United Methodist Bishops Meeting in Myrtle Beach, S.C. April 29-May 4;

Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church
Bishop Roy I. Sano Executive Secretary
100 Maryland Ave. NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
(202) 547-6270

April 25, 2007

Contact: Stephen Drachler
(615) 417-9284

United Methodist Bishops Meeting in Myrtle Beach, S.C. April 29-May 4;
Expected to Focus on Leadership Role in Growing Global Church

WASHINGTON More than 100 United Methodist Bishops from around the world will gather for their semi-annual meeting in Myrtle Beach, S.C. April 29-May 4, with key elements of the agenda focused on their role in the growing global denomination.

"For a number of years, the church has focused on more clearly defining the role of bishops in our rapidly changing world," said Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, of Houston, president of the council. "After gathering information from many areas, we may well be ready to take some steps."

One of the groups expected to offer recommendations is a special committee created by the 2004 General Conference in Pittsburgh. The next General Conference, United Methodism's top legislative body, will be held April-May 2008 in Forth Worth, Texas.

That committee has sought input from the council on a variety of issues, including reducing the number of bishops in the United States, and limiting terms to eight to 12 years with an option for re-election. It is also exploring the possibility of ending the practice of lifetime terms for bishops. Currently, upon retirement, bishops retain a voice, without vote, on the Council of Bishops.

The meeting will open on Sunday, April 29 with a 4 p.m. memorial service at Belin Memorial UMC in Myrtle Beach. Plenary sessions of the council's meeting will take place at the Springmaid Beach Resort. It will conclude with worship at around 11 a.m. on Friday, May 4 in the resort's exhibition hall.

Preparations for the 2008 General Conference will take up much of the council's agenda. Nearly 1,000 United Methodists from the U.S., Africa, Europe, and the Philippines, will act on legislation setting out a theological agenda for the 11-million member denomination. The denomination has a mission presence in 120 countries around the world.

Bishops do not have a vote at the General Conference, but serve as presiding officers during the 10-day legislative conference. They may also propose legislation for delegates to consider.

One of the traditional highlights of the General Conference is the Episcopal Address, offered by a bishop speaking on the council's behalf. The council will hear a report from Bishop Sharon Brown Christopher of Springfield, Ill., who will be delivering the 2008 address in Forth Worth.

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