United Methodists Endorse New Episcopal Area in the DR Congo

Tampa, Florida, May 3, 2012—The United Methodist Church decided to increase its number of bishops in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from three to four.

The action, taken by the denomination’s 2012 legislating General Conference, recognizes the significant growth of the church in the DRC, where the territories for which a bishop is responsible cover vast areas. The church’s bishops serve “areas” that can consist of one or more annual (regional) conferences.

The delegates in Tampa also decided to recognize the church in Burundi as a separate annual conference, apart from the current five-country East Africa Annual Conference. Burundi remains in the same episcopal area, within the Africa Central Conference. Outside the United States, United Methodist annual conferences are grouped into “central conferences,” comparable to “jurisdictions” in the US.

In another action, the General Conference approved the creation of a Central Conference Theological Education Fund to assist with clergy training in central conferences. Central conferences are located in several areas of Africa, the Philippines, and continental Europe and Eurasia.

The increase by one of episcopal areas in the DRC was brought to the General Conference by its Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters. Another proposal to add a second new bishop was referred to the standing committee for evaluation.

The three current episcopal areas in the DRC are North Katanga (office in Kamina), Central Congo (office in Kinshasa) and South Congo (office in Lubumbashi). The new area will be determined and a new bishop elected by the Congo Central Conference.

Thirteen annual conferences within the Congo Central Conference have a current aggregate membership of 2.3 million and growing, but membership is not the only criteria for determining where new bishops are needed in central conferences.

The Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters has developed criteria to assist in considering the frequent proposals for new episcopal areas. Factors to weigh in addition to membership include the number of congregations and active clergy, geography, and church structure in the region.

A review of localities seeking new bishops found that Congo Central Conference met the criteria.

In other actions concerning central conferences, the General Conference approved a measure to allow two of its general agencies to locate funds to help bear the costs of the meetings where bishops are elected and other business conducted.

Requests for funding of the meetings will in the future be referred to the General Council on Finance and Administration and the General Board of Global Ministries, which will “seek sources of funding.”

Global Ministries does the staff work for the sustained Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters.


Like what you're reading? Support the ministry of UM News! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community. Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

UMNEWS-SUBSCRIPTION
Worship
Chase Crickenberger. Photo courtesy of the author. Mr. Crickenberger's commentary appears in the Blogs and Commentaries section of Untied Methodist News.

Online communion should not be here to stay

The church would risk further marginalizing shut-ins and others by denying them a physical experience of the Body of Christ.
Mission and Ministry
Tim Tanton (center, in red), chief news and information officer for United Methodist Communications, shares updates with African communicators and other UMCom staff during the 2019 General Conference. World Press Freedom Day, observed May 3, commemorates journalists and highlights the difficulties they face while reporting truth. File photo by Kathleen Barry, UM News

May 3 is World Press Freedom Day

Tim Tanton with United Methodist News talks about giving voice to the voiceless and why freedom of information is essential not only for society but for the church.
Bishops
The Virginia Conference’s Bishop Sharma D. Lewis (upper right corner) leads the devotional during the April 30 session of the United Methodist Council of Bishops spring meeting. The bishops maintained that no elections of bishops or agency board members would be held this year, despite some delegates urging otherwise. Screengrab courtesy of the Council of Bishops via ZOOM by UM News.

Bishops: No episcopal elections until 2022

United Methodist bishops declined General Conference delegates’ calls for episcopal elections this year but opened the door to a vote on new leaders in 2022.