Bishop Calls Special Session
Bishop Robert T. Hoshibata has called a special session of the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference. In a letter mailed to members of the Annual Conference, the bishop states that “This special session will be convened in order to vote on one question only: Shall there be 4 districts in the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference beginning on July 1, 2012?”
Attendees at the June 2011 regular session of the Annual Conference heard of the bishop’s plan to adjust the number of districts when he shared it at the conference session. Conference members have been able to share their thoughts on this matter with the bishop since then, but have not had the opportunity to vote on the item. According to The United Methodist Book of Discipline, a plan to change the number of districts in an annual conference requires a ratification vote by the membership of the annual conference.
Therefore Bishop Hoshibata has called for a vote-by-mail ballot on this question.
The letter sent to members is an “invitation to attend” the by-mail conference. It was mailed to clergy and lay members of the Annual Conference. In some cases, churches may have changed their elected representative. They are asked to contact Annual Conference Session Manager, Turella Woods at firstname.lastname@example.org to update the membership lists (note: since the vote will be held before the end of the year, members are those who were elected for 2011, even if another person has already been elected for 2012). Members of the Annual Conference who did not receive the letter should also contact Turella.
In the letter, Bishop Hoshibata lays out two key issues related to the change in districts. The first is the change in the episcopal area that will happen in September of 2012. When Oregon-Idaho, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska Missionary conferences are all supervised by one bishop, a “general assistant” to the bishop will provide “continuity of leadership and linkage to your bishop when the bishop is not full-time in Oregon-Idaho.”
The second change the bishop describes is the effort to reduce the budget of the annual conference and be fiscally responsible in challenging economic times. Therefore he is calling for the reduction in the number of districts to provide funds for the new general assistant.
Bishop Hoshibata invites comments and dialog about the proposal. (Comments can be posted below, or mailed to the bishop at Bishop@umoi.org.) More details will be shared at Clergy Colloquy sessions around the conference, here on the conference website, and with the ballots that are mailed out in early November.