July 22, 2021 | by Heather Hahn
Two United Methodist jurisdictions held special online sessions in recent days with an eye toward the denomination’s future.
On July 21, the Southeastern Jurisdiction — by a vote of 335 to 3 — approved the long-sought union of the Tennessee and Memphis conferences. With the vote, the new Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference can start operations on Jan. 1.
On July 17, the Western Jurisdiction discussed the possibility that it might need to reduce its number of bishops and reimagine its ministry. Delegates reviewed reports that dealt with the jurisdiction’s mission statement, the need for greater collaboration across boundaries and the role of bishops.
Both meetings touched on the uncertainties confronting The United Methodist Church.
The international denomination faces the ongoing ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a potential split after decades of intensifying debate over LGBTQ inclusion.
“It will be a while before we know who we are as a denomination,” the Rev. David Valera told the Western Jurisdiction. He is the executive director of connectional ministries for the Pacific Northwest Conference.
“While the question of division might be settled at the 2022 General Conference, some say it will take eight to 10 years for the structure and ethos of the new church to really emerge.”