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August 30, 2016

How are Bishops Assigned?

news-graphicThis question, it seems, takes on center stage each time there is a change in episcopal leadership within an annual conference. It is no different this year after it was announced at the Western Jurisdictional Conference meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona July 13-16 that Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño is being assigned to the San Francisco Episcopal Area (California-Nevada Conference) and succeeding her place in the Los Angeles Episcopal Area is Bishop Grant Hagiya, who is no stranger to the California-Pacific Conference.

Bishops are assigned by their jurisdiction or central conference to serve a geographical area for a four-year term. There are 46 episcopal areas in the United States and 20 episcopal areas outside of the United States. New bishops may not be assigned to the area where they were a clergy member for at least four years after their election, however, the Book of Discipline allows for this restriction to be ignored by a two-thirds vote of both the jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy and the jurisdictional conference.

Bishops may be assigned to the same area for up to three quadrennia. Assignments take effect September 1. A newly elected bishop may not be assigned to the episcopal area in which he or she holds membership unless two-thirds of the committee on episcopacy members decide to ignore that restriction.

In rare cases, an Inter-jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy, elected by General Conference delegates, can transfer bishops across jurisdictional lines if the bishops and the jurisdictions agree.

After the election of new bishops, each jurisdictional committee on episcopacy recommends to the jurisdictional conferences the assignment of bishops to their episcopal areas. New bishops are consecrated, not ordained. They remain elders in the denomination, but they become ordained members of the Council of Bishops instead of an annual conference.

For further reading, please read the FAQ’s on the Council of Bishops and How Are Bishops Assigned?

Rev. N. Adiel A. DePano
Chair, Committee on Episcopacy
California-Pacific Conference