Next week, November 2-5th, the South Central Jurisdiction (SCJ) of The United Methodist Church will gather in Houston to elect new bishops and assign the current and new bishops to annual conferences. Three new bishops are expected to be elected. New bishops will be consecrated on Saturday at 10:30 am CT.
The New Mexico Annual Conference (NMAC) is currently under the episcopal supervision of Bishop Robert Schnase, who we share with Río Texas Conference. The NMAC belongs to the SCJ, which also includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma Indian Missionary, Great Plains, Central Texas, North Texas, Northwest Texas, Río Texas, and Texas.
The Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy is composed of lay and clergy leaders from the member conferences. The 2016 Committee is still serving. There has not been a Jurisdictional Conference since they were elected, so their term has been extended. Our Delegates are Rev. Dr. Eddie Rivera and Sid Strebeck.
There are seven endorsed candidates for the episcopacy. Two of the seven are members of our Conference: Rev. Dr. Randall Partin and Rev. Dr. Eddie Rivera. All candidates have been interviewed via ZOOM by the other conference delegations prior to the SCJ Conference.
The NMAC Delegation will be in attendance. Our General Conference Delegates are: Rev. Dr. Randall Partin and Sid Strebeck. Our Jurisdictional Delegates are: Dr. Susan Brumbaugh and Rev. Dr. Pam Rowley. Alternate Delegates are: Rev. Dr. Todd Salzwedel, Dan Salzwedel and Rev. Dr. Eddie Rivera. Heath Husted passed away in 2021. GC and JC Delegates will be able to vote.
The SCJ Conference will begin on Wednesday, November 2nd at 3:00 pm with Opening Worship. At 3:30 pm, our own Bishop Schnase will preside over the opening business session. Interspersed in the up to 15 episcopal ballots are various reports and other activities.
A 50 percent plus one vote is required for election. The seven candidates will be considered and occasionally, additional candidates will arise from the floor. Once all the business of the SCJ Conference is completed, the Committee on Episcopacy will assign all active bishops to episcopal areas. That information is usually shared fairly quickly. Bishops begin their appointments on January 1.
Five bishops have requested retirement: Bishop Scott J. Jones from the Texas Annual Conference, Bishop Gary Mueller from the Arkansas Conference, Bishop Lowry from Central Texas, Bishop Bledsoe from New Mexico and Northwest Texas, and Bishop Michael McKee of the North Texas Conference.
Bishop Schnase is supervising NMAC and Río Texas. Bishop Nunn has three areas – the Oklahoma Conference, Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, and Northwest Texas. Bishop Saenz serves Central Texas and Great Plains. Once thought to be a temporary solution, this assignment may remain in place until dynamics in the Jurisdiction are more stabilized.
Conferences, including NMAC, are in the midst of disaffiliation discernment discussions. If enough churches disaffiliate, it will alter the formula which determines the number of bishops serving the jurisdiction. At the 2024 General Conference, a discussion of redrawing boundaries will likely occur.
The SCJ Conference will be livestreamed on the SCJ Conference website: https://www.scjumc.org/. The schedule of activities, profiles of episcopal candidates and much more can be found on the same website. Communications Director, Alli Newsom will be covering the Conference from Houston and will provide behind the scenes insights and interviews. We will be posting updates on our NM Conference – UMC Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NMConference. Daily news updates will also be posted on the Conference website: https://www.nmconfum.com/. United Methodist New Service will provide coverage of all the Jurisdictional Conference: http://www.umnews.org/. The Conference Staff will be hosting a watch party at the Conference Office.
We lift up the process and all those involved in prayer.