Delegates prepare to elect bishops at Jurisdictional Conference

October 30, 2022

Delegates from Kentucky and other annual conferences in the Southeastern Jurisdiction will gather this week at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, to elect bishops – including the election of three to fill openings from retirements. The four other regional jurisdictions in the U.S. also are meeting this week.

Typically, Jurisdictional Conference is held in July in years when the United Methodist Church’s General Conference meets, but because of postponements related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the called Jurisdictional Conference this week will meet during an off year with the primary purpose to elect bishops. The formal renaming of Kentucky’s Red Bird Conference to Central Appalachian Conference also is expected to be formally approved during the sessions.

In a normal year, the conferences not only elect  to residential assignments, they promote UMC evangelistic, missionary, and educational interests; appoint committees and nominate leaders, and support and hold accountable ministries within the jurisdiction, according to the Jurisdictional Conference’s website.

Michael Watts, a lay delegate to General Conference who serves as a spokesperson for the Kentucky delegation, outlined the schedule for the week:

On Tuesday, Nov. 1, the delegation will meet with each episcopal candidate for a question-and-answer session. Elections and live streaming will begin Wednesday at the 10:30 a.m. EDT business session and continue during the business session through Thursday, Nov. 3. 

The Committee on Episcopacy is expected to announce the assignment of bishops at 8:45 EDT Thursday night.  At 9 p.m., the Kentucky and Central Appalachian (formerly Red Bird) Conferences will host a reception to either welcome Bishop Leonard Fairley back to Kentucky or to welcome a new bishop.

The reception will be held in Terrace Auditorium C at Lake Junaluska. Anyone from Kentucky and Central Appalachian is invited to attend.

Kentucky also has an episcopacy candidate, Rev. Dr. Iosmar Alvarez, who will interview for one of the three positions to be filled. Alvarez is currently the superintendent of the Lexington District.

Each delegation’s number is determined by conference size, divided equally between laity and clergy. Kentucky has 20 voting members and six alternates.

View SEJ Conference live stream.