April 24, 2014

The Mission Council and the Cabinet have both voted unanimously to recommend that the Missouri Conference reduce the number of districts from twelve to nine. A proposal will be brought to Annual Conference, June 6-9, in Springfield, for consideration by conference members.

The Book of Discipline gives to the Annual Conference the responsibility for determining the number of districts, and then gives the Cabinet the responsibility to draw district boundaries.

The Missouri Conference currently has nine District Superintendents and twelve districts. The proposal merely asks the annual conference to reduce the number of districts to match the number of superintendents we currently have by immediately merging the districts in the three instances in which one superintendent supervises two districts. And then it announces that some boundaries will be redrawn during the year to come and that the new district boundaries will be presented during the 2015 annual conference.

“A few months ago, I asked several members of the cabinet to delve into the topic of reducing the number of districts and redrawing district boundaries,” Bishop Schnase reported. “They met a few times, and they have some suggestions that I think are worth pursuing. We currently have nine District Superintendents serving twelve districts. We have several instances where counties are included in one district that are actually located much closer to another district center. And we have an uneven workload, with one superintendent supervising over 130 churches and some others supervising about half that many. We also have to be mindful of geographical affinity and financial sustainability. Most importantly, we must keep the above-listed concerns in mind while focusing on what’s best for the mission of the church. As you can imagine, these are complex conversations. The proposal will help us take the first step by establishing the number of districts to match the number of superintendents. Then we will have a year to determine any boundary changes.”

The proposal which will be presented to Annual Conference by the Mission Council and the Cabinet reads as follows:

“Resolved that, in accordance with the Book of Discipline, paragraph 415.4, the number of districts in the Missouri Conference be reduced from twelve to nine. Effective July 1, 2014, the following adjustments would be made: Ozarks North and Ozarks South merge into one district; Heartland South and Heartland Central merge into one district; and Heartland North and Pony Express merge into one district.

During the 2014-2015 conference year, the Bishop and Cabinet of the Missouri Conference will work, in consultation with congregational leaders and pastors, to adjust district boundaries in order to more effectively accomplish the mission of leading congregations to lead people to actively follow Jesus Christ. Any congregations transitioning to a different district would be under the supervision of the new superintendent as of July 1, 2015, yet will continue financial commitments to their previous district through December 31, 2015.

A report will be made to the 2015 Annual Conference with new district boundaries and names.”