Letter from the Bishop

July 1, 2024

To the clergy and laity of the New Mexico Conference:

Dear friends,

I have decided to request retirement at the July meeting of the South Central Jurisdictional Conference. My choice is the fruit of much prayer and discernment and of many conversations with family, colleagues, and friends.

The 2024 General Conference made important and responsible decisions, including the adoption of a lower budget and a corresponding reduction in the number of US bishops. As a result, the South Central Jurisdiction will assign six bishops rather than the seven that had been expected. It has taken some time to work out the implications for our Jurisdiction and I have only come to this decision this past week—after our annual conference session. This is the solution that best serves the whole.

I have a deep commitment to the continued sustainability and fruitfulness of the United Methodist Church and feel that my decision is best for our collective mission and the communities we serve. This places us in a better position to navigate this period of contraction and to emerge stronger and better equipped to serve our current realities. I make this decision for the sake of the new church that is emerging.

The United Methodist Church owes me nothing. Rather, I owe everything to the United Methodist Church, all that I am and everything that I have. This church surrounded me with steadfast love as a child, planted in me the seeds of faith, opened me to the saving power of God’s grace, sustained me with companions in Christ, inspired my call to ministry, ordained me, and sent me to serve a rich variety of mission fields that have blessed me, Esther, and our sons in ways beyond measure. God has blessed me in my ministry, in my education, in my pastoral work, with my family, my writing and teaching, and in my service as bishop.

I want to express my profound gratitude to the people of the New Mexico Conference for our shared journey in Christ. The road we walked together, the milestones we’ve reached, and the challenges we’ve overcome are testaments to God’s unfailing companionship. We have resilient and innovative lay and clergy leaders who are more than equipped to steer us through the steps ahead, and I will be working to ensure a smooth transition.

Elders are ordained for lifetime service and my ministry will continue as I explore new ways of living my discipleship to Christ through service to the United Methodist Church.

Yours in Christ,

Robert Schnase


Why is Bishop Schnase requesting retirement now?
Bishop Schnase is requesting retirement because this is in the best interest of the United Methodist Church and the Rio Texas and New Mexico Conferences for a fruitful and sustainable future. It took several weeks following General Conference for the Jurisdiction and the Bishops to work through the implications of the General Conference decisions. Bishop Schnase believes this is the solution that best serves the whole.

The General Conference adopted a budget nearly 40% lower than previous budgets and voted to reduce the number of the bishops in the US from 39 to 32. These were responsible decisions for the future of the United Methodist Church. This means that the number of bishops in the South Central Jurisdiction will go from 8 to 6.

How will a new bishop be assigned?
The assignment for a new bishop for the New Mexico Annual Conference will take place July 10-12, 2024, in Rogers, Arkansas. The process is outlined here and here. There will be no election of new bishops in 2024, according to the South Central Jurisdictional Conference, but assignments will take place. The New Mexico Conference will be represented by Jurisdictional Delegates elected in 2019.

When will the new bishop for New Mexico Conference begin?
The new bishop will begin his/her assignment to New Mexico Conference on Sunday, September 1, 2024.

What are Bishop Schnase’s plans after retirement?

Bishop Schnase and Esther will continue to live in San Antonio. Bishop Schnase will return to his writing and teaching, serving on the Wespath Board of Directors, and offering himself to various local ministries. He also will give more time to his outdoor interests and hobbies, especially hiking, birding, and travel.