The special election for reserve delegates to the 2024 NCJ Conference, scheduled to be held at this year’s Annual Conference, has been canceled.
The United Methodist Church’s Council of Bishops met in Chicago and made a decision that impacts the upcoming Dakotas Annual Conference, set for June 8-10, 2023.
The canceled special election would have elected four reserve delegates to serve at the 2024 North Central Jurisdictional (NCJ) Conference.
Dakotas Conference leadership agreed to cancel the election immediately following the Council of Bishops’ interpretation of a recent Judicial Council ruling which stated that annual conferences are permitted to hold elections to fill delegate vacancies. Reserve delegates were not included as also permitted. Therefore, electing reserve delegates at this time, prior to the 2024 General Conference, would be considered out of order.
The Dakotas Conference has four NCJ delegates, two clergy and two lay, but the pool of reserve delegates—three clergy and three lay—who are able to attend NCJ, has dwindled because of recent transitions.
When the Judicial Council released Decision 1472 less than two months ago, leadership within the Dakotas Conference believed the decision did not prohibit the election of reserve delegates and began to prepare to fill the reserve delegate vacancies.
Decision 1472 ruled that annual conferences are permitted to fill vacancies in their General and jurisdictional delegations due to death, resignations, or otherwise, since the current delegation has been serving since 2019 for the postponed 2020 conferences, now to be held in 2024.
General Conference is scheduled for April 23–May 3, 2024, in Charlotte, NC, and the North Central Jurisdictional Conference is scheduled for July 10-12, 2024, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Dakotas Conference leadership interpreted Decision 1472 to mean they could go ahead with an election for reserve vacancies, even though it was not required.
But the recent meeting of United Methodist bishops further clarified Decision 1472 as the denomination continues to navigate a string of pandemic-caused disruptions to the typical four-year General Conference cycle.
The Council of Bishops membership includes all active and retired bishops of The United Methodist Church. Bishops give oversight to the worldly and spiritual interests of the church. They meet twice a year, and this spring’s meeting in Chicago was the first in-person gathering since 2019. About 100 bishops from Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America attended, with about 20 attending virtually.