News and Views

New dates for Jurisdictional, General Conferences set

Posted by Erik Alsgaard on

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling will remain at the helm of the Baltimore-Washington Conference through at least Nov. 2021, according to a statement from the Northeastern Jurisdiction (NEJ) College of Bishops. Bishop Peggy Johnson, president of the NEJ College of Bishops, made that announcement today. Bishop Johnson serves the Philadelphia Area. 

All nine bishops of the NEJ will remain in their respective areas until then. That means Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar of the New England Area is postponing retirement, as is Harrisburg Area Bishop Jeremiah Park. Bishop Johnson will be staying on beyond 12 years, the maximum number of years for episcopal appointments allowed by the 2016 Book of Discipline. (¶406) 

The 2020 Jurisdictional Conference was to be held in Hunt Valley, Maryland, this coming July. But, like the 2020 General Conference, it had to be postponed because of the coronavirus. 

The new dates for the postponed 2020 Jurisdictional Conference will be Nov. 10 to 12, 2021. Read more

"This plan was developed in consultation and dialogue with the NEJ Committee on Episcopacy, which, along with the Council of Bishops has approved the plan," according to a news release from Bishop Johnson. "The current NEJ Committee on Episcopacy will continue to work with the College of Bishops to support the episcopal leaders and the conferences they serve." 

The date of transition for bishops following the postponed 2020 Jurisdictional Conference is still to be determined, according to a letter from Bishop Devadhar to his conference on May 27.

In addition, new dates for the postponed 2020 General Conference were recently announced by the General Commission on the General Conference. Those dates are August 29 to Sept. 7, 2021. The conference will still be held in Minneapolis. Read more. 

United Methodists did not gather for the 2020 General Conference earlier this month due to the coronavirus. The Executive Committee of the General Commission on the General Conference made that decision on March 18. 

The scheduling of the postponed General Conference was not without controversy. A group of young delegates asked the Commission to consider starting General Conference other than a time when the school year was about to start.

In a press release, the Commission expressed regret that they were not able to accommodate this request.

“The group asked the Commission to not schedule meeting dates that would conflict with the start of the academic year in the U.S.,” the press release noted. “They cited concerns that the timing would disproportionately affect young leaders and hinder their participation, as well as that of educators who might not be able to take off work at that time.

The leadership of the Commission met with the group and invited them to address the full Commission, which includes young adult members, at their May 16 meeting to hear the requests directly and consider their concerns. 

“Including young adults in the General Conference is always an important consideration. We affirm that their voices need to be heard,” said Kim Simpson, chair of the Commission on the General Conference. “Unfortunately, this request did not come to the Commission until late in the process. By that time, the available dates were secured and any attempt to change the dates would endanger the carrying forward of the deposits to the newly agreed-upon dates. This is at least a half-million dollars. To move the event now would require either finding a new meeting location and host annual conference(s) or pushing the event to 2022, both of which would involve canceling contracts and significant penalties.”