Pastors in the United Methodist Church are appointed by a resident bishop on the advice of an organizational unit known as the Annual Conference Cabinet. Appointments are made yearly at the session of the Annual Conference.
The Conference Cabinet consists of the area provost or dean, if one is appointed, and district superintendents. Appointments are officially fixed once the bishop reads the appointments at the session of the Annual Conference.
In addition to appointing pastors, known as elders, the resident bishop also appoints another category of clergy known as deacons. However, elders are itinerant and pastor whichever congregation the bishop chooses, whereas deacons select a particular location and then seek appointment from the bishop.
Elders fulfill the priestly function of connecting the people to God. The role of deacons is to connect the people to service in the world. Also, elders have authority to preside over the Baptism and Holy Communion, whereas deacons only assist in the leadership of these sacraments.
Both elders and deacons are generally required to have a master’s degree in divinity or theology, or some other appropriate degree at a minimum of the baccalaureate level. Other clerical classifications appointed by the bishop include local pastors, lay speakers and certified lay ministers.