This June, Bishop David Graves will appoint Nolan Donald to be the senior pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Opelika, AL and the Rev. Bill Curtin as the new lead pastor of Foley UMC.
The United Methodist Church uses the biblical model of appointing pastors to serve churches across a geographical area (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5). Each year, the bishop and conference leadership collectively discern the best placement for pastors and the greatest needs of congregations in that annual conference. Based on needs in other congregations and Nolan’s gifts for ministry, Bishop David Graves has determined that appointing Nolan to serve the First UMC in Opelika and appointing Bill Curtin to Foley is the best option for the collective well-being of the whole Church.
In February, Nolan was alerted to this possibility, and on March 14, our district superintendent, the Rev. Jean Tippit, met with our Church Council to alert them of the bishop’s intention to make a new appointment. During the meeting with the Council, Rev. Tippit sought feedback and input from the Council regarding the current state and needs of Foley UMC, what gifts in a prospective lead pastor would best serve the church, and how the transition might be approached to ensure the best success for Foley UMC. Repeatedly, the bishop and the conference leadership have expressed their deep value of Foley UMC and their commitment to the continued health and growth of the church. They want to see the new mission and vision of Foley UMC flourish and thrive in the years to come.
In the appointment of Bill Curtin to Foley, the bishop and cabinet have listened to and honored the Council’s input. Bill is currently the pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Monroeville, AL. Neither Bill nor Monroeville First UMC were anticipating Bill’s move, but in a desire to support and foster the work of Foley UMC, the bishop is moving Bill to Foley. Bill has a heart for church ministry that impacts the community and is a natural fit to lead Foley’s emerging future work. He has effectively served numerous congregations throughout the Alabama-West Florida Conference, is married to Stephanie, and has grown children who live in the Mobile area.
Nolan will continue to serve as the lead pastor at Foley through mid-June. His last Sunday will be June 20. Nolan will work over the next few months to ensure a smooth transition to the new lead pastor. Over the months ahead, you will have numerous opportunities to begin to get to know Bill and Stephanie. Bill’s first Sunday at Foley UMC will be July 11.
While this transition was not requested or planned, the Church Council has already recognized that much of the work that Nolan has led the church through in the last five years was to lead us to a healthy place where we could discern and pursue a vision for the church that was greater than who was appointed as our pastor. Over the last year, we have completed that initial work, and in 2021, we are now moving forward with our emerging future that is focused on transformational discipleship, serving the kids of Foley, meeting real life needs, and building relationships around the table. While Nolan will be moving, the God who led us to this vision and the vision itself will stay here. The Council is committed to trusting God’s love and provision during this transition and doing all they can to assist in a successful transition from Nolan to Bill as the lead pastor. The Church Council believes God’s greatest desires for Foley UMC lie ahead of us and can’t wait to continue pursuing them!
Be sure to watch Pastor Nolan's video message and see FAQ's below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Did the church ask for Nolan to move?
No. The Church Council asked for Nolan to be reappointed to Foley for another year.
Did Nolan ask to move?
No. Nolan was excited to continue leading Foley UMC.
Will John move?
John will not move this year, but like all appointed pastors, he serves at the bishop’s direction and someday can (and will) be moved.
Why does the United Methodist Church appoint pastors like this?
They want to try and increase and grow healthy Spirit-led ministry in as many places as possible. As they survey the broader picture, they can try and appoint pastors to meet and lead specific churches thereby creating healthier ministry.
Is this the end of the world?
No. God is still on his throne.