Proposed Process Offered for Nominating and Electing Interim Bishops

Walter B. Fenton
Bishop Scott Jones is joined by presidents pro tem Daniel Topalski (Bulgaria Provisional Annual Conference) and Leah Hidde-Gregory (Mid-Texas Provisional Annual Conference) for a photo prior to the Mid-Texas Annual Conference’s 2024 ordination service.

The Global Methodist Church’s Transitional Leadership Council has announced the process by which nominations will be made for the election of a defined number of two-year interim bishops at its convening General Conference in San Jose, Costa Rica, September 20 – 26, 2024, if its proposal for electing them is adopted by the Conference’s delegates.

In a brief document titled, “Process Electing Interim Bishops as the 2024 Convening General Conference,” the TLC adopted a multi-stage nominations process that would include the participation of the Church’s general membership, the TLC, and the delegates to the convening General Conference. Under the plan, the TLC would determine the number of two-year interim bishops the delegates to the convening General Conference would elect.

“With this proposal, the Council is addressing a critical priority, while also adhering to a key principle in the midst of a dynamic environment,” said Cara Nicklas, the chairwoman of the Transitional Leadership Council. “The Council believes the Church needs more bishops sooner than later, but it wants to add them in a way that fairly accounts for the denomination’s continuing transition and its anticipated rapid growth over the next two years.”

According to the document, until July 15, 2024, the TLC will receive the names of recommended candidates from which it will assemble a list of nominees for the two-year interim bishops positions. To recommend a potential nominee, GM Church members should obtain the permission of the person they are recommending for consideration and then file a biographical sketch not exceeding 500 words for that person. The sketch should summarize the individual’s background in the Church or other denominations and what qualifies him or her to serve as a two-year interim bishop (recommendations can be sent to

The TLC will then assemble its slate of nominees so it is “equal to one-and-one-half times the number of interim bishops” it determines are needed during the interim period. The TLC will publish its nominations no later than July 22. Delegates to the convening General Conference can submit additional potential nominees by submitting a candidate’s biographical statement by August 21 (again, nominations can be sent to By a defined process, the General Conference delegates will vote on these additional submissions to add three of those candidates to the final slate of nominees before they proceed to balloting for elections. In order to be elected as a two-year interim bishop, candidates will need to receive 60 percent plus one vote of the delegates present and casting valid ballots.

“Admittedly, the process is a bit convoluted,” said the Rev. Keith Boyette, the GM Church’s Chief Connectional Officer. “But I think everyone will appreciate that the guiding principle in creating it was a concern for fairness; fairness for those not yet in the Church but who long to join it, and fairness for the people of the Church and the convening General Conference delegates. In way one or another, whether its recommending or nominating a candidate or actually electing a nominee, all the people of the Church are invited to participate in the process of selecting the interim bishops.” 

Last year, the TLC appointed a 15-member task force to consider how the superintendency of the GM Church might function and then submit to it a report with its recommendations. The Rev. Dr. Jeff Greenway, a TLC member and the president pro tem of the Allegheny West Provisional Annual Conference was appointed to lead the task force, which met regularly from October 2023 through February 2024. One of its recommendations was to delay a standardized election of bishops until the 2026 General Conference, when an enduring procedure adopted at the 2024 convening General Conference will be implemented.

“The task force came to the conclusion that it would be asking too much of the delegates to codify the role and responsibilities of bishops, determine the duration of their terms, clarify how the Church will hold them accountable, and then engage in full-blown and drawn-out episcopal elections at the convening General Conference,” said Greenway. “Electing bishops is an important task at any time, but it is especially so as the new Church moves into a new season of its life. Given the continuing transitional nature of the denomination and the convening General Conference’s full agenda, the task force believed we’d all be best served by electing a relatively small number of episcopal leaders who are committed to serving the Church for only a two-year interval.”

Bishops Scott Jones and Mark Webb, who both joined the GM Church in January 2023, have been sharing the responsibility of serving an ever expanding list of provisional annual conferences. In honor of their service and their working relationships with conference leaders around the world, the TLC proposal calls for the 2024 General Conference delegates to elect both of them by acclamation to serve as two-year interim bishops and grant them the right to stand for election again at the 2026 General Conference. 

TLC leaders stressed that the nominations and elections process it is proposing is what it believes is in the best interest of the GM Church based on the Episcopacy Task Force recommendations and the petitions it has submitted regarding the superintendency of the Church. Its principal reason for offering the two-year interim process is in the interest of fairness for those still in the midst of joining the denomination and others who are hoping to join it in the next 12 to 18 months. It also cited a need to be sensitive to the agenda for the convening General Conference delegates, noting that the first gathering should provide ample opportunities for worship, giving thanks to God for the launch of the GM Church, and celebrating all that has been accomplished in the less than two and a half years. 

“Every TLC member readily acknowledges it will be up to the convening General Conference delegates to discern how best to move forward regarding episcopal leadership over the next two years,” said Nicklas. “That is as it should be; all GM Church members should be prepared to honor the decision of the duly elected delegates in this matter and in all others.”

Thanks to the Florida Provisional Annual Conference’s delegation to the convening General Conference, delegates will have the opportunity to consider another option for ordering the GM Church's superintendency. Among many other things, its detailed Hybrid Episcopal Model calls for no episcopal election of any kind at the 2024 convening General Conference, and instead, it proposes current presidents pro tem be renamed conference superintendents with all the authority bishops have save the rite of ordaining clergy. The delegation maintains its proposal would allow Bishops Jones and Webb to focus on newly forming provisional annual conferences, while conference superintendency handle the many important tasks in existing annual conferences. 

“Our model dispenses with the need for a nomination and election process prior to and at the convening General Conference,” said the Rev. Jay Therrell, president pro tem of the Florida Provisional Annual Conference and the leader of its delegation to the convening General Conference. “We are aware of the legislation put forward by the TLC and are deeply grateful for its work; we have adopted some of it. However, the bulk of our petition borrows heavily from the Wesleyan Covenant Association’s, Draft Book of Doctrines and Discipline. We felt it was wise to have more than one model to consider and perfect.”

Given the Florida delegation’s proposal, TLC leaders acknowledged that the adoption of that plan would obviate nominations made for its proposed election of two-year interim bishops, but the Conference needs to be able to move ahead with selection of the two-year interim bishops if that is the path chosen by the delegates. It believes the convening General Conference will take up the two options as early as possible in its proceedings so the delegates can determine how they want to move forward regarding the matter. 

“This is how General Conferences are supposed to work,” said Boyette. “Faithful GM Church members submit proposals, every member of the church is free to consider and share their opinions about them, and then our duly elected delegates engage in prayerful discernment and vote as God leads them. No one believes the process reveals God’s perfect will 100 percent of the time, but on this side of the veil, it’s the fairest way of honoring all voices and respecting the Church and its faithful discernment.”

Launched on May 1, 2022, the GM Church continues in a state of transition until duly elected delegates from around the world meet for its convening General Conference in September 2024. The General Conference is the denomination’s principal authoritative body, and it will consider all legislative matters that come before it. In just over two years, 4,601 local churches have joined the GM Church, and 31 provisional conferences have been organized to connect them together.

Readers can learn more about the Global Methodist Church by exploring its general website, and now they can follow all the details about the convening General Conference by visiting So the World Will Know.


The Rev. Walter Fenton is the Global Methodist Church’s Deputy Connectional Officer.