By Diane Degnan
Washington, DC: The United Methodist Council of Bishops has voted to assign Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe to the Northwest Texas/New Mexico Episcopal Area effective January 1, 2013.
The vote by active bishops, conducted via email in accordance with Council bylaws, follows a recommendation by the South Central Jurisdiction (SCJ) College of Bishops to assign Bishop Bledsoe to the Northwest Texas/New Mexico Episcopal Area beginning the first of the year.
The SCJ College of Bishops and Jurisdictional Committee on the Episcopacy followed the process outlined in paragraph 407 of church law, after determining the provision was applicable in this situation because the series of events that led to the need for the assignment began with a “retirement.”
Bishop Bledsoe appealed to the Judicial Council after being placed in involuntary retirement by the South Central Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy and the 2012 South Central Jurisdictional Conference. The Judicial Council overturned the action in November.
Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, President of the SCJ College of Bishops, confirmed that the provisions of paragraph 407 have been fulfilled, which included consultation with the cabinets and the Committees on Episcopacy of both the Northwest Texas and the New Mexico conferences, as well as consultation with the full South Central Jurisdiction Committee on Episcopacy. Once those steps were completed, the recommendation was placed before all active bishops for a vote.
“The Council of Bishops supports Bishop Bledsoe through our prayers and through the collegial brother- and sisterhood, as he prepares to move to his new episcopal area,” said Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, President of the Council. “May God bless the ministry of all United Methodists in the Northwest Texas/New Mexico area as they make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”