Episcopal Elections Explained
Just like presidential elections, the Summer Olympics and leap day, a pair of events happen for United Methodists in the United States every four years.
The General Conference, which this year was conducted in Portland, Oregon, in May, worked to settle issues on a worldwide level. July 13-16, the five geographic areas in the United States for The United Methodist Church gathered for their quadrennial Jurisdictional Conferences.
The JurisdictionThe South Central Jurisdiction met at the Hyatt Regency in Wichita, Kansas. The jurisdiction includes the 12 conferences in eight states from Nebraska to Texas, Louisiana to New Mexico. Conferences represented include the Great Plains, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma Indian Missionary, Louisiana, Texas, North Texas, Central Texas, Northwest Texas, Rio Texas and New Mexico.
The DelegatesThis year’s South Central Jurisdictional Conference had 216 delegates – 108 clergy and 108 laity. They were 63 percent male delegates and 37 percent female, a slight shift from 2012, when the split was 60/40. Missouri Conference was represented by the following delegates:
Laity – Brian Hammons, Larry Fagan, Margie Briggs, Randy Biggerstaff, Jill Wondel, Ivan James, Yvette Richards, Shannon Meister, Ken Willard, Meagan Sinn, Andrew Ponder Williams and Kay Kotan.
Clergy – Cody Collier, Lynn Dyke, Emanuel Cleaver III, Matt Miofsky, Bob Farr, Karen Hayden, Andy Bryan, Steve Breon, Trista Soendker Nicholson, Jim Downing, Kendall Waller, Jeremy Vickers.
Reserves – Amy Thompson, Tammy Calcote, Charity Goodwin-Rosario, Ron Watts.
ElectionsThe main purpose of the Jurisdictional Conference is to elect bishops and to assign bishops to their places of service. This year two bishops, Rev. Scott Jones of the Great Plains Conference and Missouri’s Bishop Robert Schnase, reached their 12-year term limit in a Conference, so they had to move. The Bishop from Rio Texas Annual Conference resigned late last year, so that Conference will also have a new bishop.
Two other bishops – Janice Riggle Huie, of the Texas Conference and interim in the Rio Texas Conference, and Robert Hayes Jr. of the Oklahoma Conference – are retiring, creating other openings.
How It’s DoneEight candidates declared their candidacies in the South Central Jurisdiction to become bishops. The candidates were voted upon by the delegates through electronic ballot. Those receiving 60 percent-plus-one vote are elected.
The Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee then met in a closed-door session, interviewing newly elected bishops. The committee then goes into an executive session to discuss which person would be best in which conference. Once the Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee comes out of its session, it privately informs each candidate of its decision.