General Conference 2008: Number of Bishops Debated

April 29, 2008

By Bruce Pettit

California-Nevada News Service


FORT WORTH, April 29, 2008 – General Conference delegates this morning debated what number of bishops the United States should be entitled to, in light of its declining United Methodist membership and compared to growing membership elsewhere in the world.


Proposals for a number – and an adjustment formula for changing membership totals – came in amendments on top of amendments. It became so convoluted that the body sent all the proposals back to the Committee on Superintendency from which they came. The matter likely will not come back to the full body until Tuesday night or Wednesday.


The various proposals had the Western Jurisdiction, currently at six bishops, being lowered to either five or three bishops.


Janet Forbes, clergy member from the Rocky Mountain Conference, gave Superintendency's reason for recommending no reduction at all: "Is limiting leadership ever an appropriate response in times of radical change?" she asked rhetorically.


Steve Wende, clergy member of the Texas Conference, gave the counter argument that the UMC should release $10,000,000 over a quadrennium to aid the church in its growing foreign areas.