Pastor Changes Part I: Announcement Sunday

United Methodist pastors move around every few years in a system of itinerancy.  As a staff member, I’ve witnessed my share of senior pastor transitions. In fact, we are in the midst of a change at my current church. While changing pastors is all very normal if you know the United Methodist system, children, youth and their families may need a bit more explanation. Christian educators can play a key role in explaining the upcoming change, saying goodbye to the leaving pastor and introducing the new pastor to the children. Below I’ve shared a children’s time for the announcement of a change. I will be sharing children’s messages for hellos and goodbyes in the next week. Be sure to like Bless Each One on facebook or sign up for emails to receive Part II and Part III.

Announcement Sunday:

Often the announcement of a new appointment will be made at the beginning of worship. Anticipate that there will be a variety of reactions to the news and that the energy of worship will change. Children will hear the news and see the adults react. If you have Sunday school during worship, this is an important Sunday to be sure the children to be a part of the prayers of the people. Being part of the community’s prayerful response to change is an opportunity for children to see that feeling worried and is normal and that prayer reminds us God is with us through hard times. The children’s message on announcement Sunday can be used to explain, in kid-friendly words, our church’s tradition of moving pastors.  Use pictures or slides (if you have a projector in your space) to share the following:

  • 256px-Circuit_rider_illustration_Eggleston
    By Edward Eggleston [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
    (Show a picture of a circuit rider) A long time ago pastors used to ride from church to church on horses. Churches were farther apart and so the pastor might only visit every few months. The travelling pastors might stay with families in the church.
  • (Show a picture of the United Methodist symbol surrounded by a number of small church images) The churches that once had pastors on horses eventually became a group of churches known as the United Methodist Church. Whenever you see the cross and flames, you know that that church is connected with our church. One reason we share pastors so that everyone has a chance to hear and get to know different preachers. Our pastors don’t ride horses anymore. They drive cars and stay at the church for a while. Do you know who the pastor of our church is?
  • (Show the picture of the circuit rider with the head of your pastor pasted overlaid on the circuit rider – I found this provides a brief moment of humorous relief) Even though Pastor ___________ doesn’t ride a horse, they still travel from church to church just like the circuit riders. We just heard the news that Pastor ______ will be moving to their next church. Pastor ____ won’t be leaving right away. They will be here for _____ more months. We will have plenty of time to say a goodbye to them before they go.


Thank you, God, for our church family whom we are always connected to wherever we go. Amen.


Stained glass circuit rider photo by Chris Light (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

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