Sometimes Moving Day means thinking outside boxes


By Woody Woodrick

Advocate Editor


Moving Day — United Methodist pastors are quite familiar with the term. It’s the day set aside by an annual conference for pastors to move from one appointment to the next. A single day is designated so that clergy can coordinate moving into and out of parsonages.


Moving from one home to the next is often stressful, but amid the lost boxes, late movers and physical strain, sometimes humorous events happen.


The Mississippi United Methodist Advocate recently asked pastors to share some funny stories about Moving Day, which is June 26 this year.


Our stories actually begin with the announcement of a new appointment. Not so long ago, appointments were revealed on the last day of Annual Conference and not one minute earlier. Those moving might have an idea, but nothing was certain until the appointments were read.


“In June 1962, I was serving the Houston Circuit Charge (of the old North Mississippi Conference) as a student pastor,” the Rev. Billy McCord said. “I was scheduled to go back to the Houston Circuit for another year. However, at that time appointments were changed without notice and sometimes at conference. But I was sure I would be back at Houston and had nothing to be concerned about.”


McCord confessed that he left conference a little early.


“I was between Calhoun City and Pittsboro and listening to WCPC radio in Houston. They were broadcasting the reading of appointments by Bishop Marvin Franklin,” McCord said. “He called out the Houston Circuit Charge and to my surprise someone else was appointed pastor. About this time, I had arrived at the Pittsboro town limits and Bishop Franklin called out the Pittsboro Charge and I was appointed pastor. At that time I was not married and could move in a Kroger sack so it made little difference to me.

“The moral of this story is if you are not prepared to move in a Kroger sack do not leave Annual Conference early.”


With Moving Day in June, weather — other than heat — should not be much of a problem, right? Ask David Lowery. “It was January 1997 when we were caught up in a mid-year move,” he said. “We found ourselves moving from Corinth to Potts Camp in the midst of a snow storm. For three days it snowed and sleeted.


"January 1997 will always be memorable in our itinerant journey. I wonder how many other pastors in Mississippi have had that same experience?”


Truck trouble

Ann and Jon Kaufman had an adventure when they relocated from Meridian to Felder United Methodist Church near McComb. The couple rented a truck and trailer and filled both. All of their possessions were loaded on Saturday, and the truck sat in front of the parsonage until Tuesday. Two days were spent cleaning the parsonage. Moving Day dawned.


“Jon climbed in the cab Tuesday morning only to find the truck very difficult to crank,” Ann Kaufman related. “Once he finally did get it started, the engine blew a head gasket. Jon didn’t realize the gasket was blown until he got down the hill from the church and around the corner and decided that the dense fog following him was not letting up. 

“We called the local rental dealership and told them of our dilemma, and they said they would dispatch a mechanic — from Hattiesburg.”


The story continues.


“After waiting by the side of the road for two hours, we called the rental company back to check on the dispatched mechanic only to be informed that the mechanic had also broken down on the way from Hattiesburg,” Ann Kaufman said.


“The company then dispatched another mechanic who finally arrived certain that we had put regular fuel in the diesel tank. When he realized that the truck was, indeed, full of diesel fuel, he opened the hood, found the engine full of water and declared it ‘blowed.’”

“Since we were already hours behind schedule, and it was blisteringly hot, my nightmare was that the company would send a replacement truck and we were going to have to unload and reload by the side of the road.


"Instead, the company called for a tow-truck — one of those huge rigs used to tow fully loaded18-wheelers — and hooked up the whole rig and towed it from Meridian to McComb.”


The truck and trailer were left in front of the new parsonage until the Kaufmans were finished, and then another tow truck was called to haul it away.


“Curious thing, though,” Ann Kaufman said, “was before our truck was towed from Meridian, some other mechanics came and took off the drive train. Rumor was that it was going on another truck that had broken down. Did it go on the truck of another preacher moving out of Meridian?”


The Rev. Dr. F. Belton Joyner Jr. of North Carolina shared a story about Moving Day truck problems during his breakout session at Annual Conference. While he was a district superintendent, he arrived to greet a pastor new to his district before the pastor.

A group of church members were waiting, too, and soon a rental truck turned the corner. The church members waved, the pastor waved from the cab and then proceeded to back into the driveway. Perhaps distracted by the welcome, the pastor backed and backed and backed until he hit the garage — and knocked it down. Fortunately, Joyner said, the church members found the whole thing hilarious.


Out of the mouths of babes

Of course pastors don’t move alone. Their families come with them, and children offer interesting perspectives.


“When we moved to Parkway Heights (in Hattiesburg), there was a period of a month we had to store our furniture at a one-room storage facility,” said David Sellers. “When we were unloading, Quinn, 4 years old at the time, said ‘Mommy, our new home sure is small.’”


Lavelle Woodrick’s first appointment in 1955 was in Natchez. While there, he and his wife Pat had their first child, Debbie. A few years later, they moved to Jackson and had another child. A few years later, they moved to Sturgis and had a third child. After three years in Sturgis, the family was appointed to St. Luke UMC in Tupelo.


Upon hearing the news, Debbie, now in elementary school, slapped her forehead and said, “Oh no, another baby!”


Babies tend to do things on their own schedules, especially when it comes to making their arrivals. Andy and Holly Stoddard were near their due date when it came time to move from an appointment in the Greenwood District to Coy United Methodist Church in the Meridian District.


With Holly Stoddard 81/2 months pregnant, the doctor advised the couple that she should remain in the Delta until the baby was born. Holly was dropped off at the home of the Rev. Gary and Durranda Howse in Ruleville, and Andy Stoddard went on to Coy.

“When we arrived at Coy, church members were there to help us unload, and we put all the furniture exactly where Holly wanted. She had drawn diagrams of the house and exactly where to put everything, and it fit perfectly,” Andy Stoddard said.


He was now ready for his first Sunday. Or so he thought.


“On that Friday night, Holly called me at 10:30 and said that her contractions were five minutes apart,” Andy Stoddard said. “I jumped in my car, called my Pastor-Parish Relations Committee chair and said, ‘We’re having a baby,’ and took off back to the Delta. 


“Our daughter Sarah was born our first Sunday at Coy, June 13, 2004. It became a running joke that if I was nervous about my first Sunday, surely I could have found an easier way.


"After that, all other moves should be a piece of cake!”