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NCJ bishops announce Special Session

NCJ bishops praying

The North Central Jurisdiction will hold a Special Session on January 23 to approve the creation of two new episcopal areas.

On November 17, 2023, The North Central Jurisdiction (NCJ) College of Bishops announced a special North Central Jurisdictional Conference session that will be held virtually on Tuesday, January 23, 2024, at 8 pm Eastern / 7 pm Central. It will be broadcast live via the Michigan Conference’s website.

Specifically, delegates will consider forming two new episcopal areas: (1) Northern Illinois and Wisconsin and (2) East Ohio and West Ohio. The sole purpose of the Special Session is to approve new episcopal areas for episcopal assignments, effective September 1, 2024.

The sixteen members of the Michigan Conference’s delegation, led by co-chairs Rev. Paul Perez and Laura Witkowski, will prepare to participate in the Special Session, along with other delegates from the 10 annual conferences that comprise the North Central Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church.

In the Report of the Episcopacy at the Special Session of NCJ in November 2022, it said: “Recommendation 4: Future Episcopal Areas – The Committee on Episcopacy, recognizing that both the [General Council on Finance and Administration] GCFA formula for number of bishops per jurisdiction, and the anticipated reduction in membership due to disaffiliation, indicate a further reduction in number of bishops allotted the NCJ in the near future, recommend the following: The Northern Illinois and Wisconsin conferences and East and West Ohio conferences (especially Area Committees on Episcopacy, Extended Cabinets and Conference Directors) begin conversations about the possibility of sharing an episcopal area, if such a sharing should be approved by the NCJ, beginning as soon as 2024.”

The number of reductions was also considered because it was known that two bishops would need to retire at NCJ 2024 because of when their birthdays occur in relation to the mandatory retirement deadline.

If approved, there would be seven episcopal areas in the NCJ to which bishops would be assigned at the regular session of the jurisdictional conference meeting on July 10-13, 2024, in Sioux Falls, SD. Currently, there are nine episcopal areas covering 10 annual conferences. Bishop Lanette Plambeck serves the two conferences in the Dakotas – Minnesota Episcopal Area.

Paragraph 40 of The Book of Discipline, the authoritative guidance on United Methodist church law, authorizes the jurisdictional conference to determine the “number, names and boundaries of the annual conferences and episcopal areas.” Names for the new areas will be voted on and approved at the North Central Jurisdictional Conference in July 2024.

At the July 2024 conference, the North Central Jurisdiction will also honor the two retiring bishops, Bishop Julius Calvin Trimble of Indiana and Bishop Gregory V. Palmer of West Ohio.

Last Updated on January 16, 2024

The Michigan Conference