This article was originally published on the Western Jurisdiction website at https://westernjurisdictionumc.org/hope-springs-from-a-meeting-of-the-western-jurisdiction-as-leadership-eyes-revised-means-of-electing-new-bishops/ on April 11, 2022.
…then I’ll give them a united heart, placing a new spirit within them…
The Western Jurisdiction held its Spring Leadership Meetings from March 29 through April 2, 2022, in Des Moines, Washington.
During the several days of open discussion, prayer, and fellowship, The Western Jurisdiction Leadership Team, in collaboration with the Committee on Episcopacy, the Interethnic Coordinating Committee, and first-elected delegates, committed to creating a more inclusive and transparent process in discerning and electing new bishops this year.
“It was exciting to gather together, pooling the wisdom of several groups and task forces that have been at work since 2019, to think creatively about how to create a process for episcopal discernment that is grounded spiritually as we seek to create a College of Bishops that meets the needs and challenges of our jurisdiction for the future we face together,” stated Bishop Karen Oliveto, president of the College of Bishops of the Western Jurisdiction and Bishop of the Mountain Sky Annual Conference.
The WJ Leadership Team affirmed the mission statement and values rubric created by the Vision & Mission Work Group as a necessary resource in the discernment process for potential bishops. The Western Jurisdiction will be looking to lift up and consecrate four bishops in the coming months.
Rev. Donna Pritchard, chair of the Leadership Team, said, “now is the perfect time in our jurisdiction to identify diverse candidates for the episcopacy, creating a mosaic of strengths within the College as a whole. It is unusual for us to elect four of our five bishops at once; we are energized by the possibilities this presents the Jurisdiction.”
While the Western Jurisdiction waits on a decision from the United Methodist Judicial Council to schedule its Conference, the WJ Episcopacy Committee, the Inter-Ethnic Coordinating Committee, Leadership Team, and the First-Elected Delegates will work together on a process for discernment, both for candidates (by May 1), and for the election process during Jurisdictional Conference (by June 1). The Leadership Team, in consultation with the WJ Council on Finance & Administration, voted to approve a budget of $20,000 to help support this new discernment process in episcopal elections.
The Leadership Team affirmed the IECC’s request to prioritize de-centering whiteness, dismantling racism, and decolonization as part of the process. Additionally, the Team encouraged annual conferences to consider casting a wider net at their annual sessions by endorsing persons to enter the discernment process rather than endorsing persons for election.
In other business, the Leadership Team:
- Affirmed a plan to raise relief funds for Tonga throughout the Jurisdiction and committed up to $30,000 to pay for shipping containers full of needed emergency supplies to Tonga;
- Celebrated the WJ Volunteer in Mission report, which estimated 36,825 volunteer days throughout the Jurisdiction in 2021;
- Received a report from the WJ Program & Arrangements committee, preparing to host the WJ session at Christ UMC in Salt Lake City, Utah;
- Approved an IECC recommendation to appoint two IECC members to serve on the Worship Team for the jurisdictional conference session.