NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) announced Oct. 28 that it will not make any recommendation to the General Conference for a review of the number of bishops for the North Central Jurisdiction after the NCJ College of Bishops submitted revised figures in response to an announcement in September that the NCJ had fallen below the threshold for its current number of bishops.
In a review of numbers, the NCJ reports that the jurisdiction does actually have enough members to retain nine bishops for the episcopal area. Bishop John Hopkins, president of the North Central Jurisdiction (NCJ) College of Bishops said “I appreciate the joint efforts of [General Secretary] Moses Kumar, [the staff of] GCFA, the NCJ College of Bishops, [the] Episcopacy Committee, and the conference statisticians who worked together to ensure that all disciples of Jesus Christ in the jurisdiction are represented in the latest membership statistics. While we will maintain our current nine episcopal areas next quadrennium, we need to continue working to expand our ministries to reach new people for Jesus Christ.”
The announcement means that the 2016 North Central Jurisdictional Conference, meeting in Peoria, July 13-16, will elect three bishops to fill the vacancies created by the retirements of Bishops John Hopkins, Michael Coyner and Jonathan Keaton.
Following the Sept. 23 GCFA release that reported NCJ membership at 1,210,538, conference statisticians discovered that new disciples who joined the church through new works had been inadvertently omitted from that total.
GCFA used this information to recalculate NCJ membership, which is now above the minimum threshold needed to retain nine bishops.
“We are grateful for the dedication of so many people across the jurisdiction who worked tirelessly to ensure that each and every disciple of Jesus Christ in the NCJ has been counted,” said Hopkins, president of the NCJ College of Bishops, and Dr. Maggie Jackson, chair of the NCJ Episcopacy Committee. “Today’s news is good but the reality is that we could find ourselves below the threshold prior to NCJ 2020. So as we look to the start of a new quadrennium, it’s important that we each consider new ways that we can offer the love of Christ to those in need in our communities.”
Coyner, president of GCFA said “We applaud the efforts of the North Central Jurisdiction to review their reported membership numbers. We understand processes are in place moving forward to assure that all professing members of The United Methodist Church are accounted for in the statistical reports of the jurisdiction, conference, district and local churches. This news is exciting because it represents the people who are a part of new church initiatives within the jurisdiction…letting us all know that United Methodists are still committed to making disciples of Jesus Christ.”
With the new information, the board of directors of GCFA will not make any recommendations to the General Conference for a review of the number of bishops for the North Central Jurisdiction.