2022 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference Updates

November 04, 2022

November 4, 2022

Delegates to the 2022 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference (SEJ) concluded their business on Friday morning. During the morning session they:

  • Approved yesterday's motion to form a task force to study the impact of racial bias in the nomination and selection process for episcopal candidates including a friendly amendment to include an honorarium / reimbursement for expenses so marginalized people may fully participate in the task force. Council on Finance reported they believed the Committee on Episcopacy had funds to support this motion.  The Conference approved the amended motion by voice vote.
  • Received other reports and participated in another monitoring activity. 
  • Heard that the Mission Offering taken earlier in the Conference for MCOR and SEJ Native American Ministries totaled $3475.

Finally, the SEJ Committee on Episcopacy announced the Bishop assignments to begin Jan. 1, 2023. Those assignments are as follows:

  • Alabama / West Florida - Bishop David Graves
  • Florida    - Bishop Tom Berlin
  • Holston - Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett
  • Kentucky / Central Appalachian Missionary - Bishop Leonard Fairley
  • Mississippi - Bishop Sharma Lewis
  • North Alabama - Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett
  • North Carolina - Bishop Connie Shelton
  • North Georgia - Bishop Robin Dease
  • South Carolina - Bishop Jonathan Holston
  • South Georgia - Bishop David Graves
  • Tennessee-Western Kentucky - Bishop Bill McAlilly
  • Virginia - Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson
  • Western North Carolina - Bishop Ken Carter

The Conference concluded with the Service of Consecration for newly elected episcopal leaders.

The 2024 SEJ Conference is scheduled for July 10-13, 2024.

Additional Coverage:

To watch videos of SEJ 2022 Sessions and Worship Services visit the Southeastern Jurisdiction UMC YouTube Channel.

To see pictures of the 2022 SEJ Conference visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/sejumc/
For more information about SEJ 2022 visit https://www.sejumc.org/sej-conference-2022
Coverage of the 2022 SEJ Conference is a cooperative project of the Southeastern Jurisdiction’s Annual Conference Communicators.

Thursday, November 3

Delegates to the 2022 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference (SEJ) spent most of their day in worship and casting ballots to elect the third new bishop for the Jurisdiction.

Thursday morning began with a Centering Worship Service. Bishop R. Lawson Bryan preached a message. After a short time of business, during which delegates cast several episcopal ballots with no election, they then pause for the Service of Remembrance during which the Conference remembered three bishops and six bishop spouses who passed away since the last in-person jurisdictional conference. Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor preached the service. 

Following lunch, voting continued. Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett presided for a portion of the afternoon session.  After many ballots with no elections, delegates discussed and voted on a motion to reconsider the Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy's recommendation that the SEJ Conference elect three new Bishops and instead elect four. This motion was made in response to several episcopal candidates of color noting the harm done over the years to SEJ episcopal candidates of color due to both racism and rumor-mongering during the election process. The Conference ultimately decided to uphold the Committee's recommendation to elect three bishops.

In the early evening, the Conference elected Dr. Robin Dease from South Carolina on Ballot #25.  Rev. Dease was a write-in candidate from the floor who had earlier withdrawn her name. Today as she continued to get votes she agreed to keep her name on the ballots.

After dinner, the delegates began to discuss the three resolutions they voted to hear.

Additionally, a resolution from Thursday afternoon for the Committee on Episcopacy to form a task force “to study the impact of racial bias in the process of selection of Episcopal Committee potential reforms to the process that might reduce the harmful effects of racial bias in the nomination and selection process for the episcopal candidate; furthermore, that such a task force be composed of greater than 50 percent representation from under-represented groups; and that the task force interview recent and past episcopal candidates to hear of their experiences and to solicit their input” was referred to the finance committee after an amendment was added to provide task force members an honorarium / reimburse their expenses so marginalize people may fully participate in the task force. 

The evening ended with a Celebration of Retiring Bishops. Bishops honored include the following:

  • Bishop James Swanson who will retire in December 2022.
  • Bishop Hope Morgan Ward who retired in 2021.
  • Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor who retired in 2021.
  • Bishop Paul Leeland who retired in 2021.
  • Bishop Lawson Bryan who retired in 2021. 

The Conference did not complete its scheduled work. There will be business conducted on Friday morning including the Committee on Episcopacy announcing the Bishop assignments at an 8 a.m. (CDT) session.  

The Conference will conclude with the Service of Consecration for newly elected episcopal leaders scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. (CDT).

Additional Coverage:

To see pictures of the 2022 SEJ Conference visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/sejumc/
For more information about SEJ 2022 and to read the Daily Christian Advocates visit https://www.sejumc.org/sej-conference-2022
Watch the live stream, including the announcement of Bishop assignments on Friday morning, visit https://www.sejumc.org/sej-conference-2022.

Coverage of the 2022 SEJ Conference is a cooperative project of the Southeastern Jurisdiction’s Annual Conference Communicators.

Wednesday, November 2

The 2022 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference (SEJ) officially began today at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. Delegates from the 14 Annual Conference in the southeast are gathering under the theme “This I Know.”

The SEJ is one of five jurisdictional conferences in the United States meeting this week. The jurisdictional conferences of The United Methodist Church typically meet once every four years, however, the Conferences were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this year, the Council of Bishops called for Jurisdictional Conferences across the U.S. to meet Nov. 2-5, 2022.

The primary business of the session is the election and assignment of bishops. On Tuesday, November 1 the SEJ Committee on Episcopacy held an afternoon for delegates to get better acquainted with persons who have been nominated for the episcopacy. Any United Methodist ordained elder, not in retired status, may be elected a bishop. Each jurisdiction establishes the percentage of votes needed for election. In the SEJ, 60 percent is needed.

Wednesday’s work began with a service of Holy Communion. Bishop James Swanson preached and Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett served as the celebrant for Holy Communion. During the service, an offering was received for United Methodist Committee on Relief and Native American ministries in the SEJ. Native American Ministries leaders assisted in worship preparation for this Conference.

The Conference also accepted the Committee on Episcopacy’s recommendation to elect three bishops. Then throughout Wednesday, delegates cast 12 ballots to elect new Bishops. Each ballot was preceded by a time of prayer. Rev. Tom Berlin of the Virginia Conference was elected on Ballot 4. Rev. Connie Shelton of the Mississippi Conference was elected on Ballot 12. Balloting will continue on Thursday.

In addition to episcopal elections, the Conference's work included the following:

  • Approved nominations from SEJ College of Bishops for jurisdictional committees. Among those elected were four North Alabama clergy.
    • Dr. Dedric Cowser - Agenda Committee
    • Rev. Ron Schultz - Committee on Appeals Alternate Members
    • Rev. Sherill Clontz - Committee on Investigation
    • Rev. Sherri Reynolds - Committee on Program and Arrangements
  • Voted to streamline the work of the Jurisdictional Committee on Finance and Administration (CFA) and the Jurisdictional Committee on Coordination and Accountability (CCA) into one committee.
  • Heard a report from the SEJ Archives and History explaining that the records of the Southeastern Jurisdiction (SEJ) will move to Pitts Theology Library at Emory University in Atlanta. The Heritage Center in Lake Junaluska will close in December 2022 to prepare for the move.
  • Adopted the Committee on Finance and Administration’s recommended budget of $1,500,000 for the jurisdiction for the 2021-2024 quadrennium. This is a reduction of approximately 15.44%.
  • Approved a resolution to change the name of the Red Bird Missionary Conference to The Central Appalachian Missionary Conference. This resolution from the Missionary Conference notes the name more clearly identifies the Conference in its scope and mission.
  • Voted to consider three resolutions submitted to the SEJ. The Agenda Committee, who processes petitions and resolutions submitted to the Conference, determined the three resolutions submitted either violated the standing rules of the SEJ or the Book of Discipline and recommended the resolutions not be distributed to delegates and not be placed on the agenda. There was a motion to appeal this decision so that the resolutions could be discussed by the Conference. After discussion of this motion, delegates voted 222 to 128 to appeal the Committee’s recommendation. The resolutions will be considered by delegates on Thursday.
  • Heard a “ Building Toward the Future “ Panel Discussion with Young Adults
  • Participated in a monitoring exercise led by the SEJ Monitoring Team.

The Conference will reconvene at 8 a.m. (CDT) on Thursday morning with a time of worship, Business will continue throughout the day.

The SEJ Committee on Episcopacy is scheduled to announce Bishop assignments for the jurisdiction on Thursday evening. On Friday morning the Conference will conclude after bishops, delegates and guests celebrate the Service of Consecration for newly elected episcopal leaders.

Additional Coverage:

Coverage of the 2022 SEJ Conference is a cooperative project of the Southeastern Jurisdiction’s Annual Conference Communicators.

Monday, October 31

On Nov. 2-4, 2022, the five jurisdictions of The United Methodist Church in the United States will hold Jurisdictional Conferences. The main purpose of the conferences is to elect and assign Bishops. Currently, there are 20 bishops in the United States who have retired since 2021 or are set to retire by the end of this year. However, in each jurisdiction leaders are recommending delegates elect fewer bishops than the current vacancies.

The delegation from North Alabama will gather with the delegations from the 14 Annual Conferences in the Southeastern Jurisdiction (SEJ) at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.

This year, the SEJ would be authorized to elect five new bishops based on five Bishop retirements and the formula outlined in The Book of Discipline (see ¶404) for the number of bishops based on church membership within a jurisdiction. In its report to the conference, the SEJ Committee on Episcopacy recommends the SEJ only elect three Bishops saying, “We believe strong and consistent episcopal leadership is needed in this time as we experience the disaffiliation of some churches, denominational uncertainties, and as we respond to other changes wrought by the pandemic and challenging societal issues.” The Committee adds, “we believe it would be irresponsible to ignore the potential negative financial impact of electing five bishops until we have clearer evidence of the sustainability of such elections.” The committee also explains that all episcopal areas within the SEJ could be covered if two Bishops are assigned to oversee two episcopal areas each until September 2024. Since September 2021 four Bishops in the Southeast have been serving multiple episcopal areas — including Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett who is serving North Alabama and the Holston Conferences. The delegates of the SEJ Conference will vote on the Committee on Episcopacy’s recommendation and will decide the number of new Bishops they elect.

In addition to electing new Bishops, the Conference will decide the assignments for all active Bishops beginning Jan. 1, 2023. The episcopal assignment process is overseen by the Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy and then approved by the Jurisdictional Conference delegates.

In addition to Bishop elections, delegates will worship together, hear reports from Jurisdictional committees and consider a resolution for a name change for the Red Bird Missionary Conference. The Conference will end on Friday morning with a Service of Consecration of the newly elected Bishops.

The SEJ Conference will be live-streamed. For more information about SEJ 2022, including the SEJ episcopal nominees, and to watch the live stream of the Conference visit https://www.sejumc.org/sej-conference-2022.

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