A Letter from Pastor Tim

Dear Eastside Community,

We know Tim’s announcement in service on Sunday, March 20th leaves our congregation with a lot to process. To give some more context and explanation, the Administrative Council, along with Tim and the staff, have put together these Frequently Asked Questions about what to expect during this season of our church. 

We encourage you to also reach out to Tim (tim@eastsideatl.org) and to our Staff Parish Relations committee (spr@eastsideatl.org), with any further questions or concerns. We hope you will also continue to pray for Tim and his family and for Eastside.


Emily Giordano

Chair, Staff Parish Relations Committee

Staff Parish Relations Team: Kirsten Aleman, Meagan Davis, Robert Vore, Troy Kiber (Council Chair) and Sean Coleman (Lay Leader)

FAQ’s on Pastor Tim’s Spiritual Renewal Leave & Transition

What is a spiritual leave? 

Spiritual leave is a benefit available to Pastors in the United Methodist Church after at least six years of service to seek a time of formational and spiritual growth. A spiritual leave is requested by the Pastor, first approved by the Administrative Council of the church and then by the District Superintendent. Pastor Tim has not had a spiritual leave since he founded the church over ten years ago. Many founding pastors of similar church plants in our area have also taken leaves or sabbaticals after such a long stint of intensive ministry service. This leave is something the Administrative Council wanted to give Tim for his faithful service to our church. During this time, Tim will continue to be our pastor and will be available for emergency matters. The staff and Administrative Council will be available for congregational care and Tim has invited members to preach and clergy friends of our congregation to lead communion for Sunday services.    


How long will Tim be on leave? 

Tim will be on leave from Monday, April 18th (the day after Easter Sunday) through Sunday, June 19th. There will be nine Sunday services where we will have others lead the service while he is away. He will return to preach on Sunday, June 26th.  


Who will preach and serve communion while Tim is on leave? 

Eastside is blessed with more than a few community members who are able to preach, including our own staff and members, and this will be a great opportunity to hear from them. We will also invite ordained friends of Eastside to serve communion for Sunday service. We urge you to continue to come out to services and help us maintain the momentum of rebuilding our church community on Sunday mornings.  


Who can the congregation reach out to for pastoral care while Tim is on leave?

Tim, the staff and the Administrative Council will make every effort to keep our church congregation connected and supported while Tim is on leave. Our wonderful Care Ministry (care@eastsideatl.org) will continue to be available for prayer and support. Our staff will also be available to talk to you and bring in the Administrative Council as needed. In case of an emergency or an extensive need, Tim would still be available to offer support. 


Can we reach out to Tim to see him before his leave begins?

Yes! Tim welcomes the opportunity to connect with members of the congregation before his leave begins. You can request a time on his calendar here.


Why is Eastside changing pastors? 

As Tim shared in his letter, we’ve heard from the District that the Bishop will appoint a new pastor to Eastside this year. While this is the way the system works in the United Methodist Church, we recognize it may be news to some in our church unfamiliar with United Methodism. Also, this is a big deal for Eastside since Tim is the founding pastor of our church. We recognize that this may be surprising or even unsettling for members of our congregation, but it is not unusual in the United Methodist Church for a pastor to move churches, especially after 10 years of service. There is no scandal or rift in the church, in fact, quite the opposite. This transition is one of love and gratitude and a sense of God’s timing for a new season.


How does the pastoral appointment process work in the United Methodist Church? 

Since the beginning, the United Methodist Church has followed what is known as an itinerant system for appointing pastors. In this system, the Bishop and the cabinet of our districts appoint pastors for one year terms and determine how to move them around to support the changing needs of pastors and congregations.  As we shared in the announcement letter, a transition is planned for Eastside this year. Transitions in the United Methodist Church are normally announced in late April or early May, but we got permission from the Bishop to share now in light of the timeline of Tim’s spiritual leave. 


When is Tim’s last Sunday? 

Tim’s last Sunday will be June 26th


Will there be a chance to thank and celebrate Tim and Elisabeth and their family? 

Yes! There will be an opportunity to celebrate and honor Tim and Elisabeth for all they have done for our church community over a decade of service. Save the date for Sunday, June 26th after Sunday service. Let our Staff Parish Relations Committee know if you would like to help plan the celebration by emailing spr@eastsideatl.org.   


How will this change impact the staff of Eastside? 

The wonderful staff of Eastside will continue to serve our church throughout this transition and under the new leadership. The pastoral change does not change their commitment to our community. We pray our congregation will continue to pray for the staff and step up as volunteers to help them in all the work they do. 


When will we know who will be the next Pastor of Eastside? 

The official Announcement Sunday for the district is Sunday, May 1, 2022. We will be able to share more details about the incoming pastor then.


When will the new pastor start?

In the United Methodist Church, a pastoral transition takes place at the end of June with new ministers starting in July.  


Will the next pastor be affirming of LGBTQ+ lives?

Although there is currently no official process to guarantee an affirming head pastor, our Bishop and District Superintendent know our core values as a church and support our work fully. Our staff and Ad Council are confident that a pastor with values aligned with those of the church will join us in ministry.


What can we do to help during this transition? 

During this transition, please pray for Tim and his family, pray for the staff, Administrative Council and congregation of Eastside that we will continue to come together to support one another and continue to strengthen our community. Pray for the incoming pastor who will be appointed to Eastside. And for those who feel safe returning to in-person service, come to service! Support our staff and community members who will be preaching during Tim’s leave and sign-up to volunteer and reconnect with our church community.  


Who can we contact if we have questions, concerns, or feedback we want to share? 

For any questions or to share any concerns or feedback, you can reach out to Emily Giordano, the chair of Eastside’s Staff Parish Relations Committee - emilycgiordano@gmail.com, 267-977-0319. Also, Tim, members of the Staff Parish Relations Committee, and members of Staff will be available after church on Sunday March 27th and April 3rd for a chance for informal discussion and questions.