Preparing for the 2022 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference
October 21, 2022
Dear Florida Conference Clergy and Laity:
Grace and peace to you. We know many of you are still actively recovering and rebuilding from Hurricane Ian. All our churches remain in our prayers, and we encourage you to reach out to our Disaster Recovery Ministry with any need you or your community might have.
This short letter is meant to help prepare you for the upcoming 2022 Southeastern Jurisdictional (SEJ) Conference that will take place November 2-4 at Lake Junaluska in North Carolina. At the SEJ Conference, elected clergy and lay delegates from the 14 SEJ Annual Conferences will meet to vote on business matters and to elect ordained elders to be Bishops.
You can find information about the SEJ Conference and watch it live here: SEJ Conference 2022 — Southeastern Jurisdiction of The UMC (sejumc.org). The recommendation from the SEJ Committee on Episcopacy is to elect three bishops at the 2022 SEJ and you can read more about that recommendation and watch an explanatory video here.
You can read about the nine SEJ episcopal nominees here. At this link you will find information, written answers to questions, an introductory video, a website, and a Zoom webinar recording from each nominee. Please be in prayer for each nominee.
We invite the entire Florida Conference to be in prayer for the lay and clergy delegates from Florida. Their names and pictures can be found here: FLUMC - Florida GC Delegation 2020 and you may email the delegation at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to hear from you if you have questions. We are honored to serve in this way.
The Florida Conference Committee on Episcopacy, like every other annual conference committee on episcopacy, has faithfully met to discern the profile of our episcopal area, complete our conference health form and share our priority missional needs. Every episcopal leader who is not retiring at this Jurisdictional Conference has also filled out a profile.
As the two members from The Florida Conference nominated and elected to serve on the SEJ Committee on Episcopacy, we are committed to doing all we can to represent you well. After all elections of new bishops have been completed, the SEJ Committee on Episcopacy will discern the needs of the Jurisdiction and the annual conferences and match the opportunities and needs of an annual conference with the strengths of individual bishops. All episcopal assignments are significant, and the Committee on Episcopacy carefully considers the assignment of a bishop to each episcopal area through a process of spiritual discernment, dialogue, and consensus.
We especially invite you to be in prayer for our episcopal leader, Bishop Ken Carter, and his wife the Rev. Pam Carter. Bishop Carter has faithfully served as our episcopal leader since 2012 when he was elected and assigned to The Florida Conference. Since September 2020, he has served as the resident bishop of both The Florida Conference and the Western North Carolina Conference. Bishop Carter could be reassigned to continue to serve The Florida Conference as our resident bishop through September 2024, or he could be assigned to serve another episcopal area.
We also invite you to pray for our Florida Conference episcopal nominee, the Rev. Dr. Sharon Austin. You can learn more about Sharon on her website or through this recent news story.
Most of all we know that God is with us in this moment. We are a people of prayer, and we are on a journey together toward the 2022 SEJ Conference. The people of The Florida Conference have proven their strength and resilience through the storm called Hurricane Ian and we know that God continues to empower us and use us as a force for good in communities all around Florida and beyond.
The Peace of the Lord,
Rev. Alex Shanks and Molly McEntire
First Elected Clergy and First Elected Lay Delegate
Florida Annual Conference
Below are some FAQs on episcopal elections and Jurisdictional Conference:
What is the Jurisdictional Conference?
The United Methodist Church in the United States is divided into five regional jurisdictions. Every four years Jurisdictional Conferences meet to oversee the business in their regional area and to elect ordained elders to be Bishops for the church. All five Jurisdictional Conferences meet at the same time determined by the Council of Bishops. Elected clergy (pastors) and lay (local church members) delegates from the Annual Conferences within the boundaries of the jurisdiction comprise the voting membership of the Jurisdictional Conference. The business of the Jurisdictional Conference includes promoting the evangelistic, educational, missionary, and benevolent interests of the Church and to provide for interests and institutions within their boundaries, establishing Jurisdictional committees and boards and electing leadership within the jurisdiction, determining the boundaries of the annual conferences within the jurisdiction, and making rules and regulations for the administration of the work of the Church within the jurisdiction.
Why are Jurisdictional Conferences occurring this year, as opposed to traditionally following a General Conference, which is not scheduled until 2024?
Originally, both General Conference and Jurisdictional Conferences were scheduled to take place in 2020. The Commission on the General Conference made the decision in March of 2022 to postpone General Conference 2020 until 2024 due to the ongoing pandemic and long processing time of obtaining visas for delegates from outside of the United States., A number of mandatory retirements by bishops prompted the need for the Judicial Council to rule in June that jurisdictions could hold elections this year in order to ensure the continuation of the episcopacy as required by The United Methodist Church’s constitution. The Council of Bishops has scheduled the jurisdictional conferences to elect bishops to take place November 2-5, 2022.
Who decides where bishops are assigned?
Voting members of the Jurisdictional Conference vote to elect ordained elders to be bishops for the church. Once elected, bishops serve an assignment until retirement. Retirement of bishops is required by the Book of Discipline at the jurisdictional conference following their 68th birthday. A bishop is appointed to oversee an Episcopal Area within that jurisdiction. An Episcopal Area is made up of a part, a whole, or multiple Annual Conference areas. The Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy (standing committee on episcopacy) is comprised of one clergy delegate and one lay delegate from each annual conference in the jurisdiction. This committee recommends the assignments of the bishops for final action by the jurisdictional conference. The Committee also reviews the work of the bishops, passes on their character and official administration, and reports to the jurisdictional conference its findings.
The Assignment Process is found in ¶406 of the Discipline which reads as follows:
The jurisdictional committee on episcopacy (COE), after consultation with the College of Bishops, shall recommend the assignment of the bishops to their respective residences for final action by the jurisdictional conference. The committee on episcopacy shall not reach any conclusion concerning residential assignments until all elections of bishops for that session are completed and all bishops have been consulted. A bishop may be recommended for assignment to the same residence for a third quadrennium. Date of assignment for all bishops is September 1 following the jurisdictional conference. (For 2022 elections, this date is January 1, 2023.) A newly elected bishop shall be assigned to administer an area other than the area in which his or her membership was most recently held, unless the jurisdictional committee on episcopacy shall recommend that this restriction be ignored by a two-‐thirds vote and the jurisdictional conference concurs by a majority vote.
Commission on the General Conference
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2022
Nashville, Tenn.: Meeting on March 28, the Commission on the General Conference continued the work of preparing for the postponed 2020 General Conference.
At their previous meeting, the Commission discussed the need to proactively look for possible solutions that could help avoid delays in 2024 should unforeseen circumstances occur or persist.
The Commission adopted a proposal to form two strategy teams “to formulate plans for effectively executing key aspects of the General Conference.” One team will look at the issue of visas, given the long wait times for visa issuance in some countries. The other team will look at event logistics, considering options that may exist. The teams would be led by members of the Commission.
Sara Hotchkiss, Business Manager of the General Conference, reported that negotiations regarding the terms of existing Minneapolis contracts are in progress. Those negotiations could impact the remaining contracts with the 2024 location. At the point the terms with Minneapolis have been agreed upon, there will be a called meeting of the Commission for ratification of the agreements.
The Rev. Gary Graves, Secretary of the General Conference, reported that work continues on the transition to new office space in the Denman Building in Nashville, Tennessee. Occupancy began on March 1, 2022, and some construction will be necessary. Plans are to utilize the same contractor who is doing work for the general agencies that also occupy that space.
Graves said that evaluation is underway as to the impact of the recent Judicial Council decisions regarding petition deadlines and the relation to postponed dates of the General Conference. The postponement to 2024 now has to be added to the considerations. Plans will be brought back to the Commission should they require Commission approval or impact the budget.
In addition, a request has been made to the Council of Bishops to fill two vacancies on the Commission caused by the death of one member and the resignation of another.
About General Conference
General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church. The assembly typically meets at the beginning of each quadrennium to consider revisions to church law, as well as adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. It also approves plans and budgets for church-wide programs for the next four years.
Nashville, Tenn.: As the pandemic continues and the wait time for visas stretches to over two years in some countries, the Commission on the General Conference announced today that the 2020 General Conference cannot be held in 2022 due to COVID-related and governmental policies/constraints.
Commission members received a report based on conversations with multiple officials of the U. S. Department of State outlining the massive backlog of visa applications in some areas. This backlog has led to wait times up to 800+ days for scheduling an initial interview. In addition, commission members described an increasingly complex interview process in some areas requiring two or three interviews, which also creates a roadblock that would preclude participation by many delegates outside the United States of America. Click here for the full media release
Setting criteria for a 2022 General Conference - November 19, 2021
Bishops cancel May 8 General Conference - March 22, 20211
Florida Delegation Letter regarding GC2021 - March 2, 2021
General Conference Postponed to 2022 - February 25, 2021
Bishops call Special Session of General Conference, issue timeline forward - February 24, 2021