The Holy Spirit is quite possibly at work. The UMC Jurisdictional Conferences are meeting this week. We are part of the Texas Annual conference, which is part of the South Central Jurisdiction. SCJ is certainly never boring, but the average Methodist is probably more aware of what happens yearly in their AC and every 4 years at the global General Conference. The Jurisdictions' work (also every 4 years) is quieter and, frankly, more wonkish.
Yet this SCJ is proving to be a rollercoaster ride of historicity. It took special clearance for these Conferences even to happen because we have not had a General Conference since 2016. Many of the delegations had to reshuffle members because of passing and disaffiliations. But it has come together in a powerful way. There are almost too many things to talk about in such a small space, so I'll focus on two.
First, the SCJ elected 3 new bishops in a single ballot. For perspective, in 2016, we also elected 3 bishops; it took over 30 ballots. The whole of the conference was visibly shocked when the first ballot came back with three elections. The stories coming out since confirm there were no backroom deals or trades struck. The spirit just spoke clearly to the hearts of the delegates and called forth these three people. They are all incredibly gifted leaders and two are first for our jurisdiction: Dee Williamston is the first black woman ever elected by the SCJ and David Wilson is the first Native American elected.
Second, we, the Texas Annual Conference will have a new Bishop come January 1. Bishop Jones is retiring in December and the Jurisdiction has appointed our own Cynthia Harvey to lead the conference forward. Some of you may remember Bishop Harvey. She ran UMCOR and the mission activities of our conference before she was elected to the episcopacy. She has served the last 12 years in Louisiana. Every episcopal leader comes with great gifts, but I am very excited by Bishop Harvey's heart for hands-on work and reaching disciples. I believe she signals a hopeful future for our conference beyond 2023.
If you would like to see more of the proceedings of the Jurisdictional conference, the archives of the live stream can be found online. The consecration service for the three new bishops will be held on Saturday at the Westchase campus of FUMC Houston and also streamed online.