Dear Lay and Clergy Members of Annual Conference,
Every four years, new bishops are elected within the jurisdictions in the United States. The rules of our conference state, “In the calendar year preceding the year in which the Jurisdictional Conference meets, the Annual Conference shall ballot on this question, ‘Shall the Conference Secretary distribute forms for the nomination of Episcopal candidates to the lay and clergy members of next year’s Annual Conference, provided there is to be an Episcopal election?’ A majority of the valid ballots cast shall be sufficient to instruct the Conference Secretary.”
Last June 2019, we did not receive a ballot on the question, “Shall the Conference Secretary distribute forms for the nomination of Episcopal candidates to the lay and clergy members of next year’s Annual Conference, provided there is to be an Episcopal election.” Because this was not accomplished at the 35th Annual Session (June 2019), it is the intent of the Conference Secretary to request a suspension of this rule at the beginning of the 36th Annual Session (June 2020) so that we may conduct nominations for Episcopal candidates.
This is an unprecedented year in the life of The United Methodist Church. General Conference will take place in May 2020. Decisions there may impact the process for Episcopal elections in 2020. The Western Jurisdictional Conference will take place in July 2020, and there may be new bishops elected. Therefore, it is the intent of the Conference Secretary to request a suspension of the rule regarding the nomination of Episcopal candidates to allow for nominations during the 2020 Annual Conference Session. If the annual conference votes to suspend this rule, then nominations will be opened at the beginning of the session of the Annual Conference.
Each individual nominated must provide documentation bearing the signatures of thirty (30) or more lay and/or clergy members of the Annual Conference Session and accompanied by a signed statement of willingness of the candidate to be on the ballot. [A list of clergy who are eligible to be nominated as Episcopal candidates was included in the original letter.]
Rev. Jennifer Lambert, Desert Southwest Annual Conference Secretary