The bishop of the new Great Plains Episcopal Area will be assigned this week during the South Central Jurisdictional Conference July 18-21 in Oklahoma City.
The Nebraska, Kansas East and Kansas West conferences will become the Great Plains Episcopal Area Sept. 1, 2012.
The South Central Jurisdiction was scheduled to elect three bishops to replace four retiring bishops. Combining the Kansas and Nebraska episcopal areas eliminated the need to replace all four.
However, another bishop may be elected following the South Central Jurisdiction’s episcopacy committee vote to place Bishop Earl Bledsoe in involuntary retirement. Bledsoe could choose to appeal that ruling, in which case he would remain an active bishop at least until the Judicial Council renders its ruling.
Read more about the Bledsoe case at http://elections.umc.org/2012/07/17/committee-votes-to-retire-bledsoe-as-bishop.
Across the United States, 11 new bishops are expected to be elected in three jurisdictions. There are 44 episcopal candidates now nominated for those 11 positions.
Delegates are free to vote for whomever they feel is most qualified and are not bound to support their conference nominee. Each jurisdiction is allowed to establish the percentage required for election. The percentage is generally set at 60 percent of ballots cast.
The voting process differs between jurisdictions, but provision must be made for delegates to vote for people who have not been nominated or endorsed. Conferences must provide information about people who receive 10 votes or 5 percent of the votes cast on any ballot.
The number of ballots needed to elect bishops varies from year to year. Occasionally a candidate will be elected on the first ballot, but, generally, several ballots are necessary. Voting by ballot continues until someone receives the required number of votes for election.
A newly elected bishop may not be assigned to the episcopal area in which he or she holds membership unless two-thirds of the committee on episcopacy members decide to ignore the restriction.
After the election of new bishops, each jurisdiction committee on episcopacy recommends to the jurisdictional conferences the assignment of bishops to their episcopal areas.
New bishops are consecrated, not ordained. They remain elders in the denomination, but they become ordained members of the Council of Bishops instead of an annual conference.
Bishops are assigned to an episcopal area for one four-year term and may be reassigned to the same area for up to two more four-year terms.
Rev. Adam Hamilton and Oliver Green represent the Kansas East Conference on the South Central Jurisdiction episcopacy committee.
Keep up on the episcopal elections at http://elections.umc.org.
Watch the South Central Jurisdiction at http://scj.umportal.org/main/section.asp?id=1030.
To get updates about elections and episcopal assignments for the South Central Jurisdictional Conference, go to www.kansaseast.org/site/stayconnected and choose “General Conference Updates.”