The letter ends by saying, "Any pastor not attending in their scheduled year is placing their appointment at risk." Now, I'm an Elder in Full Connection, and though the bishop can move me to Outer Podunk UMC at his pleasure, I don't think anybody sending this letter has the power to remove me from the clergy, which is the only thing that would prevent me from receiving an appointment. But let that go. We aren't discussing this among colleagues, we're issuing orders.
This has become the default mode in The UMC these days. Back in the old days, the courtesy would have extended throughout the letter, and even in person the Bishop, one's Superintendent, or the Board of Ordained Ministry would never use such language; nevertheless, no one would have dreamed of blowing off the invitation to participate. And I'm not saying that we shouldn't have such events, or that I'm unwilling to attend them. But I don't like being ordered about by some jumped-up bureaucrat with exactly the same standing under the Discipline that I have. Especially not after the sixth or seventh time I get such a letter.
To add injury to insult, one of these courses costs thirty bucks and the other, fifteen. My feeling is that if they're going to demand I attend these things they ought to bloody well pay for them. I should be able to reserve my money for things I have a choice to attend.