United Methodist Bishops meet to discuss church future, epidemic crisis
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church will meet November 2-5 in the midst of a pandemic, racial unrest, denominational and political anxiety.
The more than 120 bishops serving in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America will meet virtually due to the pandemic travel restrictions. They will explore, discern, and act upon ways to lead the church in this liminal season. A portion of the meeting will be livestreamed to the public.
Among the issues the bishops will be tackling will be proposals on how to dismantle racism, strengthen missional strategies, examining the role of the episcopacy, and the financial challenges facing the denomination as a result of the pandemic. The bishops will also hear ecumenical ministry reports, receive reports from various committees and task forces, and be briefed by the Commission on General Conference.
“In the midst of uncertainty and the many challenges facing the world and the church, we gather as the temporal and spiritual leaders of the church focused primarily on the faithfulness of God even in and especially in times such as these. We stand on the promise that God is with us, day after day, relying on the words of the gospel writer and of John Wesley who said, ‘The best thing of all is that God is with us,’” said COB President Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, who will deliver her presidential address on Monday morning.
Bishop Harvey added that the work of the bishops will be both strategic and technical as they address practical issues facing the church with an eye toward the future. The bishops will be led by author, teacher, and spiritual director, the Rev. Susan Beaumont, gleaning on her knowledge of leadership in times of liminality — leading in an in between season. Her latest book is, How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going: Leading in a Liminal Season.
The meeting opens on Nov. 2, with a brief time of worship that will include the President’s Address and a time of remembrance as we remember bishops and spouses who have died in the preceding year, including Bishop John Yambasu of Sierra Leone, who died in a road accident on August 16. He is the first active bishop to die in office since Bishop Martin McLee of New York died in 2014.
The opening session on Monday, including the President’s Address, will be streamed live on the COB Facebook page: facebook.com/umcbishops. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and a portion of Thursday, the bishops will meet in executive session before a closing session that will be livestreamed to the public.
Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga
Director of Communications - Council of Bishops