FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 3, 2024

The Western Jurisdiction (WJ) learned today that it must elect two bishops when delegates gather for the 2024 jurisdictional conference next week (July 10-13) at the Centennial Hotel in Spokane, Washington. The news arrives after weeks of waiting and growing speculation.

The jurisdiction had anticipated receiving two bishops via a transfer protocol from another jurisdiction. However, several developments, including a previously unannounced episcopal retirement (Bishop Robert Schnase, SCJ) and a request from another bishop for long-term disability leave (Bishop Frank Beard, NCJ), left the denomination short of the number of bishops set by the postponed General Conference when it met earlier this year. These developments led the Interjurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy to ask the WJ to elect two bishops.

June 5 Update: WJ COE releases Episcopal Election Process for 2024

The WJ Committee on the Episcopacy (WJCOE) announced late in June that they were preparing for the possibility of an election. They encouraged individuals who have discerned a call to the episcopacy to continue to discern that call in community and to fill out an episcopal profile form on the jurisdictional website (https://westernjurisdictionumc.org/episcopal-candidate-profile) to put themselves forward for consideration. The shift from possible election to definite heightens the importance of this discernment, which will move quickly from the individual to the community gathered in Spokane.

“The WJ Committee on the Episcopacy is excited about the process and looking forward to electing gifted leaders to this service,” WJCOE Chair Rev. Dan Hurlbert offered. The committee is working to ensure that remote candidates can participate in the process, with Hurlbert pointing out that two bishops – Gerald Kennedy (elected 1948) and Leontine Kelly (elected 1984) – had been elected previously by the jurisdiction in absentia.

For individuals now putting themselves forward as candidates, a special process will be in place to allow for late registration and the registration of their support team if they wish to attend in person. This process is initiated by individuals filling out the episcopal profile form. Registration for the Western Jurisdictional Conference closed at the end of June.

Individuals who meet the disciplinary requirements for the episcopacy can be nominated from the floor of the jurisdictional conference. This includes any active ordained elder in good standing who also has at least four years (a full term) to serve before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 68. A certifying ballot is expected on Thursday (July 11) morning.

The Western Jurisdiction expects two of its five active bishops—Bishops Minerva Carcaño and Karen Oliveto—to retire later this summer. Once delegates elect the jurisdiction’s new bishops, the WJCOE will recommend the bishops’ assignments to the episcopal areas within the jurisdiction.

The 2024 Western Jurisdictional Conference will occur from July 10-13, 2024, at the Centennial Hotel in Spokane, Washington. A livestream of the plenary and worship offerings will be available on the jurisdiction’s website and its YouTube channel.

The statement from the Interjurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy follows. Coverage from the United Methodist News Service is expected early next week.

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MEDIA CONTACT
Patrick Scriven –
Director of Communications, Pacific Northwest Conference


Update from the Interjurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 3, 2024

During General Conference 2024, the Interjurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy recommended 32 total bishops in the jurisdictions and the allocations of bishops of 6 in the NCJ, 6 in the NEJ, 6 in the SCJ, 9 in the SEJ, and 5 in the WJ.  This recommendation was approved by General Conference and would have required three bishops to transfer.

Since General Conference, the Executive Committee of the Interjurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy has met five times and consulted with each bishop regarding transfer.  The ICOE has discovered either an unwillingness or inability to transfer any bishops through the process outlined in the Discipline.  The Discipline clearly states, “No bishop shall be transferred unless the bishop shall have specifically consented.” (Par. 49)

Two new developments have occurred that impact the number of bishops in the jurisdictions.  Bishop Frank Beard, from the NCJ, has requested long-term disability effective August 1.  Bishop Robert Schnase, from the SCJ, announced his retirement effective September 1.  This has created two unexpected vacancies in the number of bishops eligible for assignment.

Based on these developments, the Interjurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy met on July 2nd and overwhelmingly approved the following:

  • The NCJ will assign the six remaining bishops in their jurisdiction.
  • The SCJ will assign the six remaining bishops in their jurisdiction.
  • The NEJ and SEJ will share a bishop who will serve in both jurisdictions and be a member of both colleges of bishops.
  • The NEJ will assign six bishops to serve in their jurisdiction.
  • The SEJ will assign nine bishops to serve in their jurisdiction with one additional bishop being shared with the NEJ and assigned to both jurisdictions.
  • The WJ will elect two bishops and assign five bishops to serve in their jurisdiction.

There has been unprecedented collaboration across jurisdictions to get to this point.  This plan gives each jurisdiction the minimum of five bishops as required by our Discipline and maintains the number of 32 total bishops in the jurisdictions to be funded by the episcopal fund.  The vast majority of the expenses related to Bishop Beard’s long-term disability are funded outside of the episcopal fund.

This report addresses the needs of the annual conferences, episcopal leaders, and the mission of The United Methodist Church.  It is a report that focuses on the next four years, recognizing more work will be required in 2028 when there will be further reduction of bishops.

The ICOE continues to consider the good of the whole United Methodist Church in the United States now and into the future.  Each jurisdiction is giving to the whole in specific and sacrificial ways.  There are fewer bishops than annual conferences in each jurisdiction.  Each jurisdiction will have bishops who will serve multiple annual conferences.

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