Jurisdictional Conference 2022, by Erin

Some of you may know that three years ago, I was elected by lay members of our Annual Conference to serve as a reserve delegate to our United Methodist General and Western Jurisdictional Conferences that were supposed to take place in 2020. General Conference is the global gathering of United Methodist delegates to conduct the business of the denomination, as well as share fellowship with our UM siblings from around the world. [Western] Jurisdictional Conference is a similar gathering for our geographical region (most of the western US from Colorado, including Alaska and Hawaii), with an emphasis on honoring retiring bishops and electing new ones. These conferences take place every four years.

Of course, we weren’t able to hold General and Jurisdictional Conferences in 2020. The logistics of an in-person conference of this size is already challenging, and because the United Methodist Church is a global denomination, holding General Conference virtually was determined to be infeasible: delegates span many time zones, not all parts of the world where delegates come from have consistent internet access for the length of time a conference takes, translators are required, monitoring voting credentials, etc. Following multiple postponements, we now know General Conference will take place in 2024 instead.

We are finally able to hold Jurisdictional Conferences this year, which is very important as many bishops across the denomination are ready and waiting to retire and we need to hold elections for our next episcopal leaders. All Jurisdictional Conferences will take place in their respective areas November 2-5, with our Western Jurisdictional Conference being held in Salt Lake City, Utah. Our jurisdiction will be honoring and celebrating three retiring episcopal leaders: Bishops Hoshibata, Hagiya, and Stanovsky.

Our Pacific Northwest Conference has 19 delegates total, 10 clergy and nine laity. The number of delegates elected for each conference is equal between laity and clergy, but unfortunately one of our lay delegates has passed away since our election three years ago. I am serving as the first Lay Reserve Delegate to Jurisdictional Conference, but will be an active voting delegate throughout because one of our other lay delegates cannot attend.

Thirty-two candidates have discerned a call to Episcopacy, and brief Zoom interviews were held last month for all Western Jurisdiction delegates to get an initial introduction to each of the candidates. Since then, each Annual Conference’s delegation may reach out to individual candidates to schedule follow-up conversations, as our PNW delegation has done. To learn more about the discernment process, timeline, and bios for episcopal candidates, check out the Western Jurisdiction website.

Jurisdictional Conference will be livestreamed. Follow along through the WJ website above. I look forward to sharing an update with you upon my return!

- Erin

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