Bishop LaTrelle Miller Easterling called this year’s Session of the Baltimore-Washington Conference to order as she took a sacred moment to express gratitude for and to honor the land and the Native American people of Maryland.
She was joined by Richard Church of the BWC’s Committee on Native American Ministries, who offered a welcome on behalf of the 20,000 Native Americans in The United Methodist Church.
Church and Easterling joined their voices with the 980 registered members of the annual conference and more than 200 guests in a Litany of the Land.
“We pause … and remember,” they said, “that this land is not our land.
We remember … the oppression this land has experienced and continues to suffer.
We honor … the legacies of those who have served as the first stewards of this land.
We receive … their wisdom, witness and courage.
We commit … to never forget, always honor, and be ever mindful in acting out our repentance.”
The Rev. Jim Miller, chair of the Episcopacy Committee, shared greetings with the body and talked about a quadrennial profile that has just been created that describes the breadth and depth of the BWC, which he said was the most diverse annual conference in the nation. He applauded Bishop Easterling for leading amid this diversity and for her spirit-led and inspired leadership in taking on the role of episcopal leader of the Peninsula-Delaware Conference in a unique affiliation.
Greetings were also delivered by Linda Yost, chair of the BWC’s United Women of Faith, formerly the United Methodist Women; Cefarino Epps, chair of the BWC’s United Men's Ministry, the Rev. Joseph Archie, Dean of the Cabinet of the Peninsula-Delaware Conference, and Stephanie Wall on behalf of Howard County Executive Calvin Ball.
Following the greetings, members were given the opportunity to bring forward names as nominees to be voted upon and endorsed as candidates for the episcopacy from the Baltimore-Washington Conference.
Twenty-three people were named by their peers. By Conference rules, they were given four hours as a period of discernment to fill out a form if they wished to accept the nomination. Those who accepted were the Revs. Giovanni Arroyo, General Secretary of the General Commission on Religion and Race; Joseph Daniels, pastor of Emory UMC in Washington, D.C.; Bryant Oskvig, University Chaplain at American University in Washington, D.C.; Melissa Rudolph, lead pastor of North Carroll Cooperative Parish; Antoine Love, assistant to the bishop; and Eliezer Valentín-Castañón, superintendent of the Frederick District.
The full list of those nominated from the floor included:
C. Anthony Hunt
Ginger Gaines Cirelli
Conference members will vote on who to endorse on June 2.
Last month, the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church ruled that the Council of Bishops may call Jurisdictional Conferences to elect and assign new bishops in the United State of America.
The ruling followed the postponement of the General Conference until 2024. However, the Judicial Council has determined that new episcopal elections may occur off their usual schedule to fulfill the United Methodist constitutional mandate that bishops provide continuing supervision. Learn more. See Decision 1445.
As a result, the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference will be held Nov. 2-5 in the Baltimore area. Those elected to the episcopacy will take office Jan. 1, 2023.