By Rev. Deborah Coble
The 2016 Northeastern Jurisdictional (NEJ) Conference, the once-every-four-years gathering of delegates representing the ten annual conferences in the NEJ, began Monday with organizational committee meetings, a service of reconciliation with our Native American brothers and sisters, a study of Ephesians 4:1-16 and delegation meetings.
Tuesday will be devoted to Holy Conferencing as delegates, reserves and guests gather for small group interviews of the eleven Episcopal nominees.
The first plenary session of NEJ will be Wednesday, July 13, with Holy Communion and a Memorial Service at 8:30 am. The business session convenes at 10:30 am with adoption of agenda and the first ballot. Click HERE for the NEJ website.
Probably the most significant decisions to be made at the NEJ Conference relate to the election of two new bishops to succeed those who are retiring. There are 274 lay and clergy delegates who are voting to select the next bishops of the United Methodist Church for the NEJ. Click HERE for the Daily Christian Advocate, which features an agenda, and list of all NEJ delegates.
The official nominees come from a diverse background and include six women and five men. West Virginia’s Southern District Superintendent, Joe Kenaston, is the West Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church endorsed candidate for Bishop. Click HERE for biographical information provided by the nominees.
Balloting will continue through the three days of plenary sessions, until two new Bishops are selected. In addition, there will be resolutions, reports and the adoption of the quadrennium budget.
The youth were represented at the NEJ Youth Convo, which preceded NEJ. Brookann Simmons, Allie Sears and Madison Dean, with leadership by Rev. Shea James, presented legislation that restructured the makeup of the NEJ Council on Youth Ministry which connects youth throughout the jurisdiction. Moving forward, the NEJ Youth will meet twice annually throughout the jurisdiction. See Monday’s Daily Advocate HERE for more details.
Newly elected Bishops will be consecrated as General Superintendents of the church during a worship service that begins at 11:15 am Friday morning. Just prior to the consecration service assignments for the nine bishops of the Northeastern Jurisdiction will be announced. At that time, we’ll know who our bishop will be for 2016-2020.
Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball, WVUMC’s current resident Bishop, was elected and appointed to the West Virginia Annual Conference in 2012. She is serving the Jurisdiction as the President of the Northeastern Jurisdiction Council of Bishops.
As she gave thanks to our Native American guests for a gift of a wampum belt in 2012, Bishop Sandra reminded those gathered for worship that the belt shows that reconciliation between the church and Native Americans is possible, and that we can live together in harmony with each other, but only if we speak honestly and respectfully. West Virginia Annual Conference will have a Service of Reconciliation at Old Rehoboth Church on Sunday, August 28th.
The theme for NEJ 2016 is Quilted by Connection. As the NEJ website registration page says, “Like the iconic quilts, the people of the United Methodist Church are a collection of spiritual and cultural expressions connected to each other.” The colorful quilts re-present the diversity of the Northeastern Jurisdiction.
The entire Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference will be video live-streamed, except for meal breaks and the times set aside for delegation meetings and endorsed candidate interviews.
Click HERE to watch the NEJ Conference live stream.
Also, follow on social media with hastags: #nejumc and #nej2016.