The North Central Jurisdiction (NCJ) will retain nine Episcopal Areas in the next quadrennium.
In September, the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) notified NCJ leadership that membership totals dropped below the threshold formula required by the Book of Discipline for nine bishops in the area—and GCFA said then that a recommendation for one less bishop was possible.
But after further review of the numbers, GCFA reported that the NCJ does have enough members to retain nine bishops for the jurisdiction.
The Book of Discipline paragraph 259.3 indicates that members participating in new faith communities are to be reported as members to the annual conference. But until recently, there was no simple way to report these individuals because only local churches with GCFA numbers were allowed to report in the system. When the NCJ membership was shown to have fallen 4,463 members short of the number necessary to maintain the current level of bishops, annual conference statisticians in the NCJ sought to report these pre-chartered church members.
After reviewing statistical reports, contacting churches that had not reported membership numbers, and reporting “conference members-at-large” for conferences that had them, leaders discovered 5,182 additional members across the jurisdiction’s 11 annual conferences. After they were added to the calculation, the NCJ had 719 members above the threshold to require a reduction.
“We applaud the efforts of the North Central Jurisdiction to review their reported membership numbers,” said Bishop Michael Coyner, president of GCFA. “We understand processes are in place moving forward to assure that all professing members of The United Methodist Church are accounted for in the statistical reports of the jurisdiction, conference, district, and local churches. This news is exciting because it represents the people who are a part of new church initiatives within the jurisdiction . . . letting us all know that United Methodists are still committed to making disciples of Jesus Christ.”
In light of the revised NCJ membership numbers, the board of directors of GCFA will not recommend to General Conference a review of the number of bishops for the North Central Jurisdiction.
“We are grateful for the dedication of so many people across the jurisdiction who worked tirelessly to ensure that each and every disciple of Jesus Christ in the NCJ has been counted,” Bishop John L. Hopkins, president of the North Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops, and Dr. Maggie Jackson, chairperson of the North Central Jurisdiction Committee on Episcopacy, said in a press release.
“Today’s news is good, but the reality is that we could find ourselves below the threshold prior to NCJ 2020,” they continued. “So as we look to the start of a new quadrennium, it’s important that we each consider new ways that we can offer the love of Christ to those in need in our communities.”
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church