As you may be aware, it was announced that Rev. Dr. Kip Laxson will no longer serve as Senior Pastor at Asbury United Methodist Church, effective October 1, 2021. You can read the full text of that announcement by clicking here. We ask that you be in prayer for Rev. Laxson and the Laxson family during this time of transition and restoration. We also ask you support and be in prayer for Asbury’s clergy and staff as they navigate this transition and continue to lead Asbury forward in missions and ministry.

This page contains frequently asked questions and information regarding the transition in leadership at Asbury United Methodist Church and is managed by the Staff-Parish Relations Committee. Should you have additional questions, you may contact a member of the SPRC or email the committee directly at sprc@asburyonline.org.


What is the SPRC?

SPRC stands for Staff-Parish Relations Committee. Staff is the clergy and staff at our church, which includes all staff and not just ordained, appointed ministers. Parish makes up the laity of the church, the congregation. The key to the responsibility of the committee is the word Relations. Regardless of the size of the congregation, the SPRC focuses on a strong relationship between the staff and the congregation, and between the congregation and the district superintendent. The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (¶258.2g) lists specific tasks for the SPRC and goes into more responsibilities for the SPRC.

Who serves on the SRPC?

The Book of Discipline (¶258.2) requires every congregation to have a committee on staff-parish relations. The Staff-Parish Relations Committee members are proposed by the Committee on Nominations and elected by the charge conference. The Discipline requires that at least five and not more than nine members be elected for terms of three years each, in three classes. One member must be a young adult, and all members must be professing or associate members of the church. Members of the committee may succeed themselves for one three-year term.

Asbury's current SPRC membership is listed on the Lay Leadership page, along with other lay committees of the church, including Church Council, Finance, Missions in Action, Nominations, and Trustees.

Who is the Senior Pastor now?

Rev. Dr. Bill Morgan, Rev. Robert Mercer, and Rev. Maggie Dunaway will serve Asbury as the pastoral team leading Asbury and its staff as we continue to be a place for all to worship, serve, and grow. The SPRC will work with the District Superintendent and Bishop Wallace-Padgett in the coming weeks and months to ensure the next Senior Pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church continues to move us forward as a welcoming United Methodist congregation focused on missions and ministry for all.

When will we know who our next Senior Pastor will be?

Over the coming weeks and months, the SPRC will begin working with the District Superintendent and Bishop Wallace-Padgett to determine the next senior pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church. As we know more about that process, we will certainly keep the church family informed and seek feedback when appropriate.

We ask that you be in prayer for this process, for the District Superintendent, for Bishop Wallace-Padgett, and for the person who will be the next senior pastor of Asbury.

Whom should I contact for pastoral care now?

Asbury United Methodist Church has an amazing clergy and staff team to assist our congregation. Call the church office at (205) 995-1700 to speak with the appropriate person. You can also email our clergy team directly at clergy@asburyonline.org

What is the most important thing for me to do now?

Asbury United Methodist Church is a strong and caring force in our community and will continue to be in the days ahead. The clergy and staff of Asbury are all people who love God and want to help Asbury share God's love with others. The most important thing for all of us to do is pray for the church, for our clergy, for the staff, for the congregation, and for one another.

We also encourage you to remain faithful to Asbury by physically being in worship each week, attending Sunday School and Bible studies, joining small groups, and volunteering through activities with the church. Your continued support of Asbury's missions and ministries with your time, talents, and gifts will ensure Asbury moves forward stronger than before for one another and those in our community.

Will Pastor Kip receive a new church appointment?

Pastor Kip is on a personal leave of absence through July, 2022. The normal appointment season will begin at the beginning of the year as usual.

As a member of this church, I feel more specific details regarding the announcement Pastor Kip will no longer be serving at Asbury should be made available. Don’t I have that right?

In most companies, there is a Human Resources Department, a Personnel Board, or something of the sort, which is similar to a United Methodist Church’s SPRC. This committee is charged with personnel matters, including policy, professional standards, liability issues, and civil law around employment. The Book of Discipline prescribes (¶258.2.e) that Staff-Parish Relations Committee "shall meet in closed session, and information shared in the committee shall be confidential."

Additionally, it is a matter of respect and human decency that we not openly disclose an employee's personal information. Pastor Kip has requested privacy during this time and the SPRC will respect that request and asks that you do the same. Regardless of the situation, your prayers for Pastor Kip, the Laxson family, and the entire Asbury family is the most important thing at this time.

I have heard something different than what was said in the statement. I'm confused and don't know what to believe!

The SPRC has heard and seen rumors too and can say with certainty that what you are hearing is untrue and without basis. Unfortunately, several members have chosen to speculate aloud, send emails containing false information with encouragement to forward to others, and expressed baseless opinions in groups or Sunday School classes. These have not only made the work of the SPRC more difficult during this time, but have also hurt our current staff members.

We implore that members of Asbury understand that sometimes "less is more" and you don't need to know the gritty details of a situation. We ask again for prayers for Pastor Kip, his family, and our staff during this time of transition. God will take care of the details.

I've heard that Pastor Kip was removed because of the pending denominational split. Is this true?

This is not true and the denominational split had nothing to do with the decision for this change in our senior pastor. There is no truth or foundation for this rumor at all.

General Conference is schedule to take place in August 2022 where decisions regarding the denomination may be made. In the coming weeks, the Pastoral Team will announce several ways Asbury will work to bring our entire church family up to speed on concerns regarding the potential denominational split, what it all means, and how it could impact Asbury. The Pastoral Team has heard from several members of the congregation who feel a lack of information has created anxiety around this issue and is actively working to address this concern with information and discussions as we approach General Conference 2022.

I've heard from several people "who know" what's going on and I believe the SRPC has mishandled this entire situation.

The SPRC has honored its charge as outlined in The Book of Discipline by handling this and every matter before it with respect, prayer, and confidentiality. The SPRC has not and will not violate the confidentiality and privacy that should and will be afforded to all Asbury employees. The SPRC has worked closely with the District Superintendent and Bishop of the North Alabama Conference on this matter to ensure the proper processes and polity have been followed.

If you are hearing "details" from someone outside of the SPRC, we encourage you to take those "details" with a grain of salt and understand that those spreading this misinformation do not have the facts or full context of this situation. We also encourage you to help stop these rumors by not repeating them when you hear them. Rumors only cause more hurt, frustration, and division among our Asbury family.

I have more questions that aren’t answered here. What should I do?

We encourage you to reach out to an SPRC member you may know (or even one you may not know!) and begin a conversation. All members of the SRPC will be happy to address your questions within the confines of what the Book of Discipline permits. Keep in mind, contacting us directly won't mean that we will tell you exactly what you want to hear or give you additional details. You can also email us at sprc@asburyonline.org and we will be happy to respond to your emails as well, though the same rules apply for additional details and information we will disclose.