At the end of August 2012, Bishop William H. Willimon will retire and on September 1, 2012, the North Alabama Conference will receive a new Bishop. Who that new Bishop is will be decided at the 2012 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference which meets July 18-20 at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.
Here is some basic information about the Episcopal election and assignment process in the United Methodist Church.
Jurisdictions are five large regional divisions within the United States and are composed of the Annual and Missionary Conferences within their boundaries. The Jurisdictions include North Central, Northeastern, South Central, Southeastern and Western. The North Alabama Conference is in the Southeastern Jurisdiction. There are 15 Annual Conferences which make up the Southeastern Jurisdiction.
Every four years, elected delegates from the Annual Conferences meet together for a Jurisdictional Conference to vote on business matters and to elect ordained elders to be Bishops for the church. (All five Jurisdictional Conferences happen simultaneously.) Any ordained Elder of the United Methodist Church is eligible to be nominated for Bishop by an Annual or Missionary Conference, a Conference delegation, or other group within the United Methodist Church. Once elected, a Bishop will be 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. There are 13 Episcopal areas within the Southeastern Jurisdiction.
Bishops are appointed in four-year terms and are itinerate within the Jurisdiction in which they were elected. In the U.S., bishops normally serve in an Episcopal Area for up to two terms (8 years), but they can continue in that Area for a third term with a special vote of the Jurisdictional Conference. Bishops are elected for life, but there is mandatory retirement when a Bishop turns 68 on or before July 1 in the year of a Jurisdictional Conference. (This means no Bishop will be appointed to preside over an Episcopal Area beyond the age of 72.) At retirement a Bishop continues to serve the Church on the worldwide level as a part of the Council of Bishops.
The 2012 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference (SEJ Conference) will elect five new Bishops to succeed the five Bishops retiring within the Jurisdiction at the end of August. Currently there are 15 Nominees for Bishop in the Southeastern Jurisdiction.
You can see the full list of nominees and read biographies of each candidate at http://www.sejumc.org/2012nominees
The delegates who will make up the Jurisdictional Conference were elected by each Annual Conference in 2011. Each Annual Conference has twice as many delegates to Jurisdictional Conference as they did to General Conference in the spring. The delegations are made up of an equal number of clergy and laity.
The North Alabama Conference will have 24 delegates voting at the SEJ Conference – 12 clergy and 12 laity.
• Mark Parris, senior pastor of Northport First UMC
• Bill Morgan, senior pastor of Canterbury UMC in Birmingham
• Kelly Clem, senior pastor of Holmes Street UMC in Huntsville
• Robert Sparkman, senior pastor of Hartselle First UMC
• Paul Hillard, senior pastor of St. Thomas and Haven Memorial UMCs in the Southeast District
• Robin Scott, Mountain Lakes District Superintendent
• Julie Holly, senior pastor of Discovery UMC in Hoover
• Tommy Gray, senior associate pastor of Asbury UMC in Madison
• Glenn Conner, senior pastor of Huntsville First UMC
• Dale Cohen, Northeast District Superintendent
• Alan Head, senior pastor of Pleasant Hill UMC in Bessemer
• Wade Griffith, senior pastor of Liberty Crossings UMC in Birmingham
Clergy Alternate Delegates to SEJ
• Steve West, senior pastor of Saint Mark UMC in Birmingham
• Rudy Guess, senior pastor of Decatur First UMC
• Dave Barnhart, new church start pastor in the South Central District
• Gloria Holt, member of ClearBranch UMC in Trussville
• Scott Selman, member of Vestavia Hills UMC and Conference Treasurer
• Pat Meadows, member of Pleasant Hill UMC in Bessemer
• Steve Lyles, member of Alexander City First UMC and Conference Lay Leader
• Neal R. Berte, member of Canterbury UMC in Birmingham
• Ellen Harris, member of Crumly Chapel UMC in Birmingham
• Carol Toney, member of St. Paul UMC in Triana
• Zac Riddle, member of Canterbury UMC in Birmingham
• Reid Turner, member of Alabaster First UMC
• Eric Owens, member of Brownsville UMC in Birmingham
• Charlie Carlton, member of Asbury UMC in Birmingham
• Terry Walker, member of ClearBranch UMC in Trussville
Lay Alternate Delegates to SEJ
• Judy Poole, Deaconess and member of Pleasant Grove UMC
• Paulette West, member of Trinity UMC in Homewood
• Scott Stone, member of Hartselle First UMC
After all the new Bishops are elected, the SEJ Committee on Episcopacy will begin the process to assign the 13 active Bishops to the 13 Episcopal Areas within the Jurisdiction. The SEJ Committee on Episcopacy is made up of two representatives – one clergy and one lay – from each Annual Conference in the Jurisdiction. The North Alabama Conference members of the SEJ Committee on Episcopacy are Dr. Bill Morgan and Gloria Holt.
During the Laity Session of the 2012 North Alabama Conference, Gloria Holt noted this committee has signed a covenant agreement "to make the assignment process a time of spiritual discernment." To read more about the process that was adopted for the 2012 Episcopal elections in the Southeast go to www.sejumc.org/uploadedFiles/SEJ/Jurisdictional_Conference/SEJ-Pre-Election-Process.pdf
The Committee on Episcopacy will have a lot of discerning to do this year. Not only are there five Bishops retiring, but three other Bishops have served in their Episcopal Areas for eight years. So, barring a special vote of the SEJ Conference to extend their assignment for a third term, they will also be moving to a new Episcopal Area. The five remaining Bishops have been assigned to their Episcopal Area for only one term. However, any of them could move to a new Area if the Committee on Episcopacy discerns that is best for the Church.
Once the Bishops have been assigned and informed of their new assignments, the SEJ Committee on Episcopacy will make a formal announcement to the SEJ Conference. It is expected that this announcement will be made on Thursday evening, July 19, 2012.
On Friday, July 20, 2012, the newly elected Bishops will be consecrated. Then on September 1, 2012, all the Bishops will begin their terms in their assigned Episcopal Areas.
The North Alabama Conference Office of Communication Staff will report the news of Bishop elections and assignments during the SEJ Conference.
To stay informed
For more information about the 2012 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference go to www.sejumc.org/jurisdictional-conference.