Q&A with Lay Delegate Don House
1. What does the South Central Jurisdiction Episcopacy Committee do on behalf of the Texas Annual Conference?
This committee has several responsibilities, including the recommendation for the assignment of our active bishops to serve each of our annual conferences in the jurisdiction.
This committee completes this task every four years. We have 15 annual conferences and 10 active bishops to serve. It also has the responsibility of organizing interviews of candidates seeking to fill the positions of retiring bishops. This year we will elect three new bishops at jurisdictional conference in July. The interviews began in January and will be completed in March.
Each delegation spends time interviewing each of the candidates. Currently, there are 11 endorsed candidates participating in the interviews. We organized a meeting of all the delegations in Oklahoma City in preparation for General Conference and jurisdictional conference.
This provided the opportunity for delegations to meet and consider legislation.
2. Who are the members?
We have two members from each of the 15 annual conferences— one clergy and lay from each annual conference. The annual conference delegations to jurisdictional conference, elected once every four years, appoint these members to the committee. Rev. Jim Welch and I are the representatives from our annual conference.
3. When do you make the assignments of the bishops?
Our committee does not make the assignments. Our committee recommends assignments and the jurisdictional conference adopts or rejects our recommendation. Once the recommendation is approved, the process is complete. We do not complete our recommendations until all new bishops are elected. Once the elections are complete, our committee interviews each of the newly elected bishops and then begins the task of developing our recommendation. We continue our work until this is done. Then we report to the jurisdictional conference.
4. What do you do to prepare for this meeting?
We met at least two times a year during the quadrennium as a full committee. We interviewed each active bishop twice in committee, and individual members met with their own bishops several times.
We met with all of the bishops together several times as a committee. We submitted questionnaires to annual conference leaders and studied the responses. We reviewed reports of annual conference successes and failures—membership, worship attendance, professions of faith, and payment of apportionments.
5. Will our bishop return? According to the Book of Discipline, we cannot make an assignment until all of the new bishops are elected. We will know the answer only after our committee makes its recommendation and the jurisdictional conference approves it. There will be 30 people involved in the recommendation of the assignment of our bishop. Many will not make up their minds until the interviews of new bishops are complete. It is frustrating to have to wait for the answer, but the rules make us all wait. It really is not fair to the new bishops to make assignments before their elections are complete. The rules are good ones.