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Western Jurisdiction to elect two bishops when it gathers for 2024 conference

July 3, 2024

The Western Jurisdiction (WJ) learned today that it must elect two bishops when delegates gather for the 2024 jurisdictional conference next week (July 10-13) at the Centennial Hotel in Spokane, Washington. The news arrives after weeks of waiting and growing speculation.

The jurisdiction had anticipated receiving two bishops via a transfer protocol from another jurisdiction. However, several developments, including a previously unannounced episcopal retirement (Bishop Robert Schnase, SCJ) and a request from another bishop for long-term disability leave (Bishop Frank Beard, NCJ), left the denomination short of the number of bishops set by the postponed General Conference when it met earlier this year. These developments led the Interjurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy to ask the WJ to elect two bishops.

The WJ Committee on the Episcopacy (WJCOE) announced late in June that they were preparing for the possibility of an election. They encouraged individuals who have discerned a call to the episcopacy to continue to discern that call in community and to fill out an episcopal profile form on the jurisdictional website ( to put themselves forward for consideration. The shift from possible election to definite heightens the importance of this discernment, which will move quickly from the individual to the community gathered in Spokane.

“The WJ Committee on the Episcopacy is excited about the process and looking forward to electing gifted leaders to this service,” WJCOE Chair Rev. Dan Hurlbert offered. The committee is working to ensure that remote candidates can participate in the process, with Hurlbert pointing out that two bishops – Gerald Kennedy (elected 1948) and Leontine Kelly (elected 1984) – had been elected previously by the jurisdiction in absentia.

For individuals now putting themselves forward as candidates, a special process will be in place to allow for late registration and the registration of their support team if they wish to attend in person. This process is initiated by individuals filling out the episcopal profile form. Registration for the Western Jurisdictional Conference closed at the end of June.

Individuals who meet the disciplinary requirements for the episcopacy can be nominated from the floor of the jurisdictional conference. This includes any active ordained elder in good standing who also has at least four years (a full term) to serve before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 68. A certifying ballot is expected on Thursday (July 11) morning.

The Western Jurisdiction expects two of its five active bishops—Bishops Minerva Carcaño and Karen Oliveto—to retire later this summer. Once delegates elect the jurisdiction’s new bishops, the WJCOE will recommend the bishops’ assignments to the episcopal areas within the jurisdiction.

The 2024 Western Jurisdictional Conference will occur from July 10-13, 2024, at the Centennial Hotel in Spokane, Washington. A livestream of the plenary and worship offerings will be available on the jurisdiction’s website and its YouTube channel.

The statement from the Interjurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy follows. Coverage from the United Methodist News Service is expected early next week.


Patrick Scriven –
Director of Communications, Pacific Northwest Conference