News from the larger church
On March 22, Bishop LaTrelle Easterling offered an online “State of the Church” address which included discussion of several topics happening in the larger United Methodist Church. First, the General Conference 2020 Session has been postponed (again).
The General Conference of the United Methodist Church meets every four years to establish priorities, church policies and procedures, budgets and elect key denomination’s leadership. The 2020 session was to be held in May 2020 but was postponed on account of the coronavirus pandemic. It has been further postponed a second time and is now scheduled to take place in September 2022. A special one day virtual session will be held on May 8 this year in order to enable the most pressing denominational matters to be addressed until the full session can be held in 2022. The General Conference is made up of nearly 900 members elected from annual conferences in the United States as well as Central conferences in Africa, Europe and Asia and the Philippines.
The General Conference held a special session in 2019 to address the matter of ordination of LGBTQ persons and same sex marriage. Following that session, there has been discussions and proposals offered about a plan for some congregations to leave the UMC to form one or more new denominations. Since the 2020 session has not yet take place, no plans have been adopted by the denomination.
For more details, see https://www.umnews.org/en/news/another-gc2020-delay-brings-relief-chagrin
The Bishop also discussed ways that the responsibilities bishops may shift in the next two years. With the pandemic and recent financial shortfalls in The United Methodist Church plans are now being considered to align the Baltimore-Washington and Peninsula-Delaware annual conferences. This would mean that Bishop Latrelle Easterling might have episcopal responsibilities not only for the Baltimore-Washington conference, but also the neighboring Peninsula-Delaware Conference.
Bishops are elected and serve within a Jurisdiction. The Northeastern Jurisdiction includes ten annual conferences and ranges from West Virginia and Maryland northward to Maine. Three bishops in the Northeast Jurisdiction have announced plans to retire. The Baltimore-Washington Conference is made up of 615 churches in Washington, D.C., parts of Maryland, and the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. The Peninsula-Delaware Conference is comprised of 416 churches in Delaware and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The proposal is for these two annual conferences would be aligned for the purposes of episcopal oversight while still retaining their own local leadership and identity. These two conferences were yoked together under one episcopal leader from 1960-1990.
For more information, see