Committee Votes to Retire Bledsoe as Bishop
The South Central Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy held its hearing to consider involuntary retirement of Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe on July 16, 2012 at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, Oklahoma City. The hearing was closed to the public, following the required vote of the committee. Bishop Bledsoe was accompanied by Rev. Zan Holmes. By invitation of the committee, representatives from the General Commission on Religion and Race were also in attendance. All thirty members of the South Central Jurisdiction Episcopacy Committee were present, representing every annual conference in the jurisdiction.
The hearing began at 2PM on July 16, recessed in the late evening, and concluded at 10:15AM on July 17. At the conclusion of the hearing, the committee began a period of discernment, study, and discussion. Materials presented by Bishop Bledsoe before and during the hearing were reviewed by the committee.
After extensive discussion and prayer, a motion was made to place Bishop Bledsoe in the retired relation as an episcopal leader in the South Central Jurisdiction, as of August 31, 2012. A secret ballot was taken at 7:30PM July 17, with all 30 members present. According to ¶ 408.3 in the 2008 Book of Discipline, a 2/3 majority is required to support the motion. This majority was attained with a vote of 24 in support of the motion, a vote of 4 against the motion, and two abstentions.
Donald House, Chair of the Committee, accompanied by Rev. Charlotte Abram, Vice Chair of the Committee, visited with Bishop Bledsoe, in person, to disclose the results of the vote. Bishop James E. Dorff, President of the South Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops was then informed of the vote.