Bishop Jones previews SCJ ‘22
The 2022 South Central Jurisdictional Conference is the second in a row that Bishop Scott Jones has hosted. The former Great Plains Conference bishop, now the episcopal leader in the Texas Conference, also oversaw the 2016 conference in Wichita.
Bishop Jones gave a preview of the 2022 SCJ to communicators from the jurisdiction on Wednesday morning, prior to the opening worship and start of the first session at 3 p.m.
He said that although three bishops are retiring — Arkansas’ Gary Mueller, North Texas’ Michael McKee and himself — and several other vacancies were created in the past several years, the episcopacy committee is recommending the election of three bishops.
That number could change during the opening business session to increase to as many as five. Bishop Jones said that financial issues in the denomination and disaffiliations would make electing any more than three bishops doubtful.
Delegates, half laity and half clergy, must vote for bishops based on the number of openings — no more, no less — Jones said. Candidates are elected bishop if the person receives 60% of votes on any given ballot.
The episcopacy committee meets with bishops, both new and established, to determine their assignments and inform the episcopal leaders of their recommendations.
“The conversations that are going on are speculative unless you’re sitting in the Episcopacy Committee, which is supposedly a confidential conversation,” Bishop Jones said while reflecting on his own move from the Great Plains to the Texas Conference in 2016. “We as United Methodist preachers go where somebody tells us to go, and bishops are no different than that. Like any good preacher should do we said, ‘Thank you very much’ and went home to start packing.”
A veteran of jurisdictional conferences since 1996, Bishop Jones said he has never seen a vote to change the recommendation of the Episcopacy Committee — “but these are unusual times.”
Once elected, the bishops would begin their terms on Jan. 1, 2023. The next jurisdictional conference is scheduled for July 2024 in Arkansas, when the schedule is expected to return as laid out in the Book of Discipline, with bishops usually taking office the following September.
Bishop Jones said his final jurisdictional conference brought with it good memories.
“This is highly sentimental,” he said.
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