As opposed to other Christian faiths, the United Methodist Church assigns a pastor through a process where the Bishop of the area is ultimately responsible for assigning pastors to their churches; the appointments are made at the Annual Conference held in June by the district superintendent after consultation with the church's Staff-Parish Relations Committee and the Pastor. The process was created at the onset of the church by its founder, John Wesley, so that every church had a pastor and every pastor had a church.
Each year, all Elders of the church are subject to new assignments. As part of the Methodist philosophy, the church as a whole is "united" and the system helps to reinforce this stance.
When the Methodist church started, the need to move pastors depended on the number of churches on a circuit, and they were moved within the first year or without fail by the end of the second. When towns developed and people were located in a more central location, the pastors stayed in place for longer periods of time.
While the present system is an adaptation of the original, the governing rules remain the same. A pastor is bound to follow the wishes of the Bishop and his superintendents.