NCJ delegates to elect up to three bishops


By Paul Black
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Delegates from 10 annual conferences across the Midwest will gather in Fort Wayne, Ind., Nov. 2-5 for a regular session of Jurisdictional Conference in which up to three new bishops will be elected.
In a quadrennium marked by postponement of 2020 jurisdictional conferences due to a global pandemic and a special NCJ session held in November 2021, delegates will gather for several items of business and will handle two of its major responsibilities – election of bishops and the approval of a jurisdictional budget for the quadrennium.

A live stream of the proceedings can be viewed at: Additional information can be found on the NCJ website,

Election of bishops

The first order of business will be consideration of a joint recommendation of the NCJ Committee on Episcopacy and the NCJ College of Bishops to elect three new bishops, which will assume office on Jan. 1, 2023.
A second recommendation is to also have the Dakotas and Minnesota conferences under a single episcopal leader as it was between 2016 and 2020 before retirements forced a temporary reshuffling of episcopal assignments.
Due to declining membership within the jurisdiction, it was anticipated that the NCJ College, comprised of nine episcopal areas would be reduced to eight for the 2020-2024 quadrennium. Normally, those numbers are announced at General Conference prior to the start of jurisdictional conference.
When the November 2021 special session was held, delegates voted to fill only one vacancy of the two left by the retirements of Bishops Sally Dyck of the Chicago Area (Northern Illinois Conference) and Bruce Ough of the Dakotas-Minnesota Area, who both were assigned to duties with the Council of Bishops.
Bishop Laurie Haller of the Iowa Area also announced earlier in August that she will retire, effective Dec. 31, allowing a third bishop to be elected.
Since that time, the Judicial Council has ruled that since General Conference did not meet and since no announcement was made, jurisdictions could use the 2016 formula for number of bishops as a guideline, meaning NCJ would maintain nine bishops through 2024.
Another factor that has led to the recommendation of three elections instead of one is that two and possibly three bishops will retire in 2024, leaving the flexibility for the jurisdiction to downsize the College of Bishop through attrition then.
Illinois Area Bishop Frank J. Beard will not be retiring until 2028 when he will face mandatory retirement.

Episcopal coverage of areas

In a quadrennium punctuated by a global pandemic, NCJ bishops have had their hands full offering supervision to the 10 annual conferences with the College at less than full strength.
Following the assignments of Bishops Dyck and Ough, the Northern Illinois Conference has been guided by retired Bishop John Hopkins. In the case of Bishop Ough’s former assignment, two bishops – Bishop David Bard of Michigan has assumed additional duties in Minnesota from where he was elected bishop in 2016, and Bishop Haller assumed additional duties with the Dakotas Conference in addition to her assignment in the Iowa Area.
Bishop Beard of the Illinois Area was on medical leave for the last six months of 2021 due to eye surgeries and Bishop Gregory V. Palmer of West Ohio, who formerly served the Illinois Area from 2008 to 2012, filled in as interim.
When Bishop Haller fell on black ice in February, suffering a concussion, she too, had to take medical leave with retired Bishop Deborah Kiesey assuming interim duties in both Iowa and the Dakotas. Prior to becoming bishop, Kiesey was a clergy member in Iowa and her first assignment as bishop was in the Dakotas.

Candidates for bishop

Ten persons have announced their candidacy for bishop.
The field of 10 include the following:  
Balloting will be in the morning session on Nov. 2, beginning at 10 a.m. EST and will continue throughout Nov. 2,3 and 4, until the number of persons elected match the number of vacancies. In order to be elected, a candidate must garner 60 percent of the vote on any one ballot.