January 26, 2014

A message from Donna Wellmon, chairperson of the church council of UUMC:

It’s with a heavy heart and mixed emotions that I share with you today that Rev. Jill’s husband, Rev. Chali, has been offered and has accepted an appointment to serve as the Coordinator for Mercy and Justice Ministries in the Great Plains Annual Conference, Kansas.  The Great Plains Annual Conference is a newly formed Annual Conference, combining the former Kansas East, Kansas West, and Nebraska Annual Conferences.  As the Coordinator for Mercy and Justice Ministries, Chali will work with all volunteers in the Mission Teams and their leaders and facilitate the three international partnerships the Great Plains Annual Conference has with Haiti, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe.  For us, this means a move for Rev. Jill as well.  Chali will begin his position March 1.  However, Rev. Jill will remain as the pastor of University through the end of this appointive year, until June 30.

It is important to note that, and many of you long-time Methodists know, we are a part of a Connectional Church, which means all appointments will receive the consideration of the Bishop, the district superintendent and the cabinet as a whole until a decision is made.  The district superintendent and the Bishop will begin meeting to discuss appointment changes in February.  I want to assure you that our district superintendent, Kurt Schuermann, will meet and work closely with our Staff Parish Relations Committee (which is chaired by Nicole Allen), myself, and lay leaders to personally hear the qualities and skills we need in a new pastor.  This appointive process may be quick, but may also take several months.  We are likely to know who will be appointed pastor before mid-May.  Our new pastor will begin July 1, 2014.

A transition team is being organized to maximize the rest of Rev. Jill’s time with us and to facilitate a smooth beginning for our new pastor.  The Bishop and our district superintendent are aware of the courageous new direction we have set for our ministry together.  They will serve as advocates for us to ensure that the newly appointed pastor will be well-equipped to lead us as we live into our newly developed mission, vision, and values, and we can continue building upon the wonderful ministry endeavors we have begun.  We have accomplished a great many things under Rev. Jill’s leadership: stable finances, better organized communication, and an exciting road map for the future with our new mission.  We will not lose momentum with your continued involvement and commitment.

If you will indulge me for a moment personally… I have been given such a gift to be able to work with Rev. Jill, know her and pray with her.  She has left a wonderful, deep mark on this community and she will be missed.  My level of engagement in this community has increased a hundredfold as a result of Jill’s encouragement and direction.  This is a gift I never expected to receive and has enriched my life beyond measure.  She forced me (with great kindness) to become more openly prayerful and to take some serious leaps of faith.

It’s difficult to say goodbye to someone you love and someone who has touched our lives so deeply.  But as we move forward in this strong congregation with talented lay leaders, and as we encourage one another in our existing and new ministries, it’s one of the best tributes we can give to Rev. Jill.

To read Rev. Jill's own words on this transition, please visit her blog.