photo by Patrick Scriven for WJ Communications

by Evelyn Warren, WJ Communications

After an afternoon of introductions and answering questions, seven of the 22 individuals who have put their name forward as possible episcopal leaders in the Western Jurisdiction have been certified to proceed.

Revs. Kristin Stoneking (California-Nevada), Timote Piukala (Desert Southwest), Sandra K. Olewine (California-Pacific), Jessica Rooks (Mountain Sky), Judy Chung (California-Pacific), Anthony Tang (Desert Southwest), and Molly Vetter (California-Pacific) all received the minimum 5 percent of the total votes on the certifying ballot taken Wednesday evening at the Centennial Hotel in Spokane, Wash., as part of the Western Jurisdictional Conference 2024.

The vote happened after all 22 delegates who were nominated had the chance to address the body in two separate conversations.

Candidates who began this process on Wednesday, Revs. Sunny Ahn, Charles Alkula, Duane Anders, Giovani Arroyo, Andy Bartel, Judy Chung, Karen Hernandez, Calvin Hill, Joel Hortiales, Brian Suk-Boo Lee, Ella Luna-Garza, William Douglas Mills, Sandra K. Olewine, Javier Olivares, Brian Parcel, Timote Piukala, Jessica Rooks, Kristin Stoneking, Anthony Tang, Sione Teiapa’a, Molly Vetter and Ken Walden.

During the first afternoon session, candidates responded to the question: “What decision from General Conference 2024 had the most significant impact to you and why?”

A clear consensus emerged, with candidates highlighting the removal of harmful language. Their perspectives varied on the positive effects for local churches, the Western Jurisdiction, and the overall connection within The United Methodist Church.

Quotes captured the sentiment: “This fosters trust and allows us to lead in relationship, both with each other and with God.” Another candidate noted, “The participants were truly invested in making changes.”

Finally, one candidate emphasized the lasting impact of experiencing “true Holy Conferencing” at this year’s General Conference.

During the evening session they had to answer one of two questions that they were allowed to consider in the few hours before: 

The first question was: Could you share an example of a situation in which you had to navigate a schism or conflict within an ethnic ministry context? What theological perspectives or ideologies did you draw upon to reconcile your actions?

The second question was: What significant changes have you implemented in your leadership role to promote more equitable practices and policies? How have you disseminated these practices within your conference or among your colleagues?

Candidates answered honestly and bravely about their experiences working in multi-ethnic ministry contexts, confronting racism and sexism and the intercultural competency training they used to address concerns, and more.

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