The 2021 Changing Patterns of Ministry report the Conference adopted this understanding of itinerancy:
- Itinerancy is a characteristic of the Methodist Church’s ordained ministry. It signifies that Methodist ministers are connexional people who are available to the Conference for deployment for mission according to the needs and priorities of the Methodist Church. It indicates that no appointment is openended and that a minister will serve in a particular context only for a period of time;
- Itinerancy is one aspect of the covenant relationship that ministers have with the Conference. The Conference stations ministers on an annual basis, but within the current stationing processes only a portion of ministers are available for deployment each year, and account is taken of legitimate limitations on where they might be deployed. At the same time, the covenant relationship implies a readiness upon the part of the individual minister to be open to the needs of the Connexion as a whole at any point in their ministerial journey;
- Itinerancy indicates that a minister’s primary relationship is with the Conference and not the context to which they are deployed. On reception into Full Connexion Methodist ministers enter into the covenant relationship with the Conference in which they are held accountable by the Church in respect of their ministry and Christian discipleship, and are accounted for by the Church in respect of their deployment and the support they require for their ministry. Presbyters and deacons who are temporarily released from appointment in order to study or serve in a different context are not released from being stationed, nor from the covenant relationship of being in Connexion.
As the Conference discerns where it will station its ministers it will pay attention to the needs of the Church and to the ministers’ gifts, graces, experience, sense of calling, and any particular needs including family circumstances, health and legitimate geographical limitations. It recognises that there will be points in many ministers’ lives when they will be freer to travel anywhere in the Connexion than at others. It is, however, the Conference that sends ministers to particular appointments. How the Conference decides where ministers are deployed, how it takes these particular things into consideration, and how it ensures that any call to a specific context or particular kind of ministry is a matter of shared discernment by the individual and the Church through its processes of stationing matching.
It is recommended that this is read in the context of the whole report.