MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Major changes are coming to Montgomery's largest church, Frazer United Methodist. Bishop Paul L. Leeland has been in meetings with church leaders to discuss the possible reappointment of senior pastor Dr. Barry Carpenter. The answer came Thursday afternoon.
Through a mutual decision Carpenter will be granted "study leave", according to Leeland.
Bishop Leeland issued the following statement Thursday:
First of all, I want to say that I believe in the future of Frazer United Methodist Church. Despite some changes that will be occurring among the leadership of the church, we have a very strong clergy staff and lay leadership team who are strongly focused on the church's mission.
Second, I want to express my deep appreciation and gratitude for the ministry and leadership of Dr. Barry Carpenter, senior minister of the church. I have confidence in Dr. Carpenter and his ministry and am most appreciative of his leadership and contributions during this time of transition in the life of Frazer UMC.
On November 18, a mutual decision was reached to grant Carpenter study leave, effective December 1, 2009, in order to enable him to devote his energy to writing, reflection, and study preceding his next appointment. Dr. Carpenter will receive a new clergy appointment by July 1, 2010. This decision was reached after much prayer, as well as numerous listening sessions and meetings with all the parties involved.
This is not an unusual situation; all churches and denominations go through periods of pastoral transition. However, due to the missional outreach and size of Frazer UMC, it is understandable that these changes would generate considerable interest.
Rev. Patrick Quinn will be appointed to Frazer UMC as the Minister of Evangelism & Interim Teaching Pastor, effective December 1, 2009.
Transitions of this nature are never easy, but the Alabama – West Florida Conference is hopeful to navigate this time with the most ease as possible.
Frazer UMC has numerous other clergy already on staff that will help guide the church through this transition, and I have confidence that the church will continue to flourish.
The announcement that the church's senior pastor is leaving comes just days after Frazer's teaching pastor, John Schmidt, announced he's leaving to start a new church. That's something Bishop Leeland says Schmidt had been considering for several years.
The bishop says he's been in meetings all week with lay leaders and staff at Frazer in an effort to move forward with the least amount of disruption. He says, "Frazer has been in a state of transition for two years since the retirement of long time minister John Ed Mathison."
Bishop Leeland asked for prayers for the ministers involved and the entire Frazer family.
WSFA 12 News will have an interview with Bishop Leeland on WSFA 12 News at 5:00 and 6:00.