By: Christa Meland
Clergy and lay representatives from 11 annual conferences, including Minnesota, will gather next week in Peoria, Illinois, to elect bishops and other leaders at the 2016 North Central Jurisdictional (NCJ) Conference. The theme of the gathering is “Living Together…In Unity…Amid Diversity…for Ministry” based on Ephesians 4:1-16.
Every four years, each of the five U.S. geographical jurisdictions in The United Methodist Church holds a jurisdictional conference to elect new bishops and to select members of various boards and agencies.
The Minnesota Conference will be represented at the NCJ Conference by four clergy delegates and four lay delegates who were elected at the 2014 Annual Conference. Those delegates—and the ones representing the other 10 annual conferences in the NCJ—will cast ballots to determine four new bishops.
Rev. Dr. David Bard has been endorsed for bishop by members of the 2014 Minnesota Annual Conference Session and by the conference’s General and Jurisdictional Conference delegation.
Bard is among 17 episcopal candidates from which the four new bishops will be chosen. Some of the candidates, like Bard, have been endorsed by their respective conferences. Others have been endorsed by various groups and associations within The United Methodist Church.
The new bishops will replace four bishops who are retiring: Bishop Michael Coyner (Indiana), Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey (Michigan), Bishop John L. Hopkins (East Ohio), and Bishop Jonathan Keaton (Illinois Great Rivers).
Beyond electing bishops, Jurisdictional Conference delegates will also elect people to serve on general boards, agencies, and jurisdictional committees. While these bodies don’t tend to get as much attention, they are important. For example, the Jurisdictional Missions Council provides funding and ministry support for projects that take place throughout the jurisdiction and are supported by its apportionments. Those jurisdictional dollars might go to anything from disaster relief to racial-ethnic ministries.
The conference begins with an opening worship service on July 13 and concludes July 16 with a consecration service during which the 2016-2020 appointments for all nine NCJ bishops will be announced.
You can watch livestream feeds of all NCJ worship services and plenary sessions on the Minnesota Conference website, and follow along on the conference’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. You can also follow along on Twitter using the Jurisdictional Conference hashtag, #NCJUMC. Complete coverage of NCJ—including inks to photos, articles, and videos—will be posted on an NCJ page on the conference website throughout the four days of the conference. Special e-blasts will be sent occasionally throughout the conference as well (sign up here to receive conference e-newsletters).
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church