What is a Jurisdictional Conference?
Every four years The United Methodist Church in the United States meets to elect new bishops and select members of general boards and agencies. Our bishops and general boards and agencies are tasked with shaping the mission and ministry of The United Methodist Church. We are divided into five areas known as jurisdictions: Northeastern, Southeastern, North Central, South Central and Western. This July 11-16, jurisdictional delegations elected by each Annual Conference will gather at their quadrennial meetings to engage in this important work.
Bishops play an important leadership role in ordering the life of the church and helping set the direction to fulfill its mission in the world. All bishops share in teaching, equipping, and encouraging mission and service. All bishops are members of the Council of Bishops, which collectively is charged with the general oversight and promotion of the temporal and spiritual interests of the entire Church. (The bishops elected this year may take part in convening a special session of General Conference that will deal with queer discrimination and, possibly, restructuring the church.) Bishops are specifically assigned to preside over the work of an Annual Conference.
General boards and agencies are created by the General Conference and administer or carry out the programs and directives adopted by General Conference.
What can we do as MFSA?
As justice-seeking people of faith we believe the ministry of the church must be intersectional in nature fulfilling our baptismal covenant to accept the freedom God gives us to resist evil, oppression and injustice in whatever form they present themselves. To do so we need leaders at every level of our denomination from our local churches to our episcopal offices who seek to fulfil that covenant. Below are some critical guidelines from MFSA for justice-seeking leadership (You can find a formatted printable version here.). Here are three ways you can use these guidelines to help make your own jurisdictional conference more just:
- Find out who are members of your annual conference’s delegation for jurisdictional conference, and email (even better, hand deliver) to them a copy of MFSA’s Guidelines for UMC Leadership.
- Find out which of your delegates are on the “Nominations Committee” of your Jurisdiction. These are the people who actually make the nominations for boards and agencies. Email (even better, hand deliver) to them a copy of MFSA’s Guidelines for UMC Leadership.
- Find out who is running for bishop in your jurisdiction. Consider using these guidelines within your own local MFSA group to make endorsements of these individuals. Then make sure voting delegates know about your endorsements!
May we be agents of sacred change, God being our guide!
Methodist Federation for Social Action
Guidelines for UMC Leadership
We need bold prophetic leaders that are Christ-centered.
We need leaders who will prayerfully follow our radically loving, fully inclusive, justice seeking, and boundary crossing God even in the midst of fear and uncertainty.
We need leaders who are followers of Jesus of Nazareth, who was born of great struggle, challenged the oppressive powers and principalities of his day, overturned the tables in the temple to call out exploitation and corruption, and called children to his side to share sacred stories of faith and hope, justice and courage, love and community.
We need leaders that are led by the movement of the Spirit. Leaders who will answer the gospel call to love our neighbors even when it’s in opposition to the Book of Discipline.
We need bold prophetic leaders who will serve with us as co-creators of justice, and co-sharers in a sacred story of hope and change. We need culturally competent leaders who seek racial, gender, and economic justice. We need leaders who seek a fully inclusive church, one that includes our LGBTQIA siblings, welcomes our immigrant neighbors, and seeks to eliminate the colonialismwoven into the very fabric of our institutional structures. We need leaders who care gently for creation and seek peaceful non-violent resolution to the world’s conflicts.
We need effective leaders, administrators and communicators.
We need leaders with the capacity for adaptive change, the ability to listen with openness and compassion, and who approach leadership with humility and grace.
We need leaders who are effective communicators, who serve with openness and transparency embracing new technologies and ways of connecting in mission and ministry.
We need creative, visionary leadership who see the church for who we are called to be not who we are in this day.We need leadership who mediate conflict assertively and are disciplined not disciplinarian.