United Methodist Church leaders may delay appointing new bishops until 2024 as the church is facing financial issues and some division over the church’s stance on homosexuality.
According to The Christian Post, the UMC Council of Bishops met in early November in a virtual meeting with plans to add more bishops in Africa where the church is growing. Some 115 bishops from around the world attended the virtual meeting.
The council also recommended that the General Conference delay the election and appointment of new bishops.
The Council says the delay would save some $10 million in bishops’ salaries and benefits.
“The bishops also agreed to encourage the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters to consider recommending to the General Conference the phasing in of the five additional bishops approved for Africa only as the resources are available and the necessary infrastructure has been secured,” the bishops said.
The Council said they also wanted to support anti-racism efforts, which would include creating space for “narratives of integrity and truth,” acknowledging pain, injury and harm, willing to be “discomforted” to be faithful witnesses, and “living as a people of relentless hope.”
In 2016, the UMC General Conference voted to add five more bishops to the continent of Africa, but the new addition of bishops could not happen before 2020.
This year, the UMC has postponed its annual General Conference, which will now take place Aug. 29-Sept. 7, 2021.
The event is expected to draw about 900 delegates at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minnesota. Currently, Minnesota is limiting in-person events to 250 people.
Delegates at the General Conference are also expected to discuss possible measures or declarations regarding same-sex marriage and homosexuality.
Some groups within the UMC have left the UMC denomination or are looking at possibly splitting into their own churches. At a meeting in Dallas for “progressive” churches, the Liberation Methodist Church was proposed.
Northside United Methodist Church in Tennessee voted to leave the denomination, change its name and join the Free Methodist Church, a small group with headquarters in Indianapolis.
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.