So after the fallout of General Conference I was fairly skeptical on whether I would make it through Jurisdictional Conference. As I read comments on General Conference people kept saying that the SEJ Conference was an important Jurisdictional Conference to follow because we were electing 5 new Bishops and considering the Bishops who were retiring were big shoes that needed to be filled. Well here it is Friday night and we consecrated 5 new Bishops in the Southeast and all 11 successfully elected across the country. However it didn’t come without much work and many many ballots.
I came to SEJ with my bags packed and my research done. I came with a list of the episcopal nominees in the order in which I liked them with attributes i liked that I picked up from their letters and biographies. However I kept my mind open as we heard each nominee speak in nominee addresses and round robin questions. I really appreciated how the Virginia Conference went about Holy Conferencing about episcopal nominees. I was told stories of how in the past people in the delegation would just pass out slips on who to vote for. Rather our delegation leader decide to give us time to voice our opinion and be open to have them changed by listening to others as well. This truly was a blessing to have further time of discernment to help in my decisions. As voting commenced and Bishops became elected including Jonathan Holston who was elected on the first ballot and Ken Carter who was thought to have been elected only to find a mathematical error invalidated his election (don’t worry he was elected on the next ballot. it was a good laugh for all).
There were many ups and downs including the down of the withdrawal of Sharma Lewis from the election process and the immediate call for prayer and singing by the conference as it continues to embrace diversity among the college of bishops in the SEJ. However as Bishops withdrew and lost votes one bishop remained to be voted on and Young Jin Cho was leaving this election up to the Holy Spirit. A man who seems to live in a state of spiritual discipline never raised doubt that whatever happened this week was God’s will (a message he had adopted since before we even nominated him as our nominee). Newly elected Bishop Cho was as low as 10 votes and on the last ballot of tuesday had 15 however the first ballot we took on Thursday morning he began to slowly rise. Next thing i knew he was passing other delegates and finally he had the lead.on the 29th Ballot he was elected which sent VA into a frenzy. Later that night we learned he would be our Bishop.
In my opinion Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference was a success. While their were bad things that happened and I still saw places in which the church needs to work I see our newly elected Bishops and I know God has a plan for each of them. Each of them was elected for a reason and each of them are well qualified for these positions. Despite what happened at General Conference I am positive about the future of the UMC based on what I have witnessed at my Jurisdictional Conference.