Ordained ministers in the United Methodist Church are assigned to congregations by bishops. The clergy appointment process in the United Methodist Church is called the itinerant system.
The United Methodist Church requires bishops to follow a specific process when making clergy appointments. Bishops consider many different factors when making clergy appointments, including spiritual and theological compatibility, the needs of both the pastor and the congregation and the family situation and employment needs of the pastor. In order to increase racial and ethnic diversity in individual congregations, bishops may appoint pastors who have different cultural or racial backgrounds than most members of their congregations.
Methodist congregations have pastor-parish relations committees that also participate in the selection process. Although bishops make the final appointment decisions, they must consult with pastor-parish relations committees and the current pastors when making the decision. Committee members have opportunities to learn about the itinerant system at annual church conferences.
A request for a new clergy appointment in a Methodist church can be initiated by the current pastor of the church, the district superintendent, the pastor-parish relations committee or a bishop. The bishop works with a cabinet to decide whether or not to grant the request for a new appointment.