Council of Bishops meets in OKC next month
On Nov. 2-7, the United Methodist Council of Bishops will meet in downtown Oklahoma City.
This international Council consists of 66 resident bishops plus all retired bishops.
Their semi-annual meeting opens at 4 p.m. that Sunday with a memorial service at St. Luke’s UMC. Participation is by invitation only.
The Skirvin Hilton hotel will be the central location for the Council’s work.
On Wednesday afternoon in Oklahoma City, the Council will begin a joint meeting with The Connectional Table.
On Nov. 1, the Connectional Table will host a panel discussion on human sexuality, the Church’s mission, and United Methodist church law. The discussion will be streamed online 8-10 a.m. Several bishops will be among the panelists.
The full Council of Bishops has not gathered in Oklahoma since March 1978, according to Christina Wolf, the Oklahoma United Methodist archivist.
Bishop Robert Hayes Jr. of the Oklahoma Area invited the Council to meet here, especially to continue the bishops’ education and participation in healing the Church’s relationships with Native Americans.
The Council’s commitment to action on this issue began with an Act of Repentance at the 2012 General Conference.
Bishop Hayes leads about 90 churches in the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference (OIMC) and 512 Oklahoma Conference churches.
The 2010 U.S. Census reported Oklahoma ranks second highest among all states for its Native American/Alaska Native population.
An Act of Repentance will be on the Council’s agenda in Oklahoma City. Glen Chebon Kernell Jr. has a major responsibility in designing the bishops’ engagement in that.
"The week will include a time of reporting on the work that has taken place across the connection concerning the Acts of Repentance and what annual conferences are doing today to maintain healthy relationships with the Native communities of their respective areas," said Rev. Kernell.
"In addition, there will be a time of witnessing various tribal cultural expressions as persons from throughout the community will be invited to come and educate the episcopacy on the great diversity of the Native American community."
This OIMC clergy member is the General Board of Global Ministries’ executive secretary of Native American & Indigenous Ministries, Justice & Relationships.
On Nov. 6, according to Kernell, time has been allotted to continue the conversations between members of the Native community and those in the Church about the role Christianity has played in their lives.
He said, "The time will end with a spiritual moment, recognizing the responsibility the bishops will carry as they depart."