District Realignment Task Force

District Realignment Task Force Updates

On April 20, the District Realignment Task Force hosted a webinar addressing the recommendation to move forward with fewer districts. Watch playback of the webinar below.

On April 13, the District Realignment Task Force announced they will host a webinar on April 20 to receive comments and address questions that arise from their decision to move forward with seven districts. Click here to read the announcement. Click the video below to watch an invite to the webinar from retired elder, Mike Hicks, and conference lay leader, Latoya Redd-Thompson.

On March 20 the District Realignment Task Force recommended that the Mississippi Conference move forward with seven districts. Click here to read the full announcement.

On April 19, 2021, Bishop Swanson announced the formation of the 10-person District Realignment Task Force to evaluate whether our current configuration of 11 districts and 11 district superintendents is our best structure for the future. This group was also charged with examining the relationship of the district superintendent with local churches. In short, the group is seeking to ask two questions:

  1. What do local churches most need from their district superintendent?
  2. What do local churches most need from their district office?

This work is sorely needed since the last district alignment took place in the early 1990s when the conference had over 1,300 churches versus the over 885 churches we have now.  To read the initial announcement about the work of this group  click here.

Since August 2021, this group has met monthly to study and reflect upon this work. The task force is conducting several interviews and surveys to help inform their work.  The group envisions making its initial recommendations by November 30, 2022 for consideration at the 2023 session of the annual conference next summer. 

Survey Input and Results.  During June 2022, a series of surveys were conducted to obtain feedback from clergy, laity, current & former DSs, and conference/district staff. To view these survey results, click here.

Southeastern Jurisdiction Context.  This group's work will be informed by the experiences and organization of the other annual conferences in the southeastern jurisdiction-many of which have initiated reorganizations in the past few years. In order to provide some context around the size and structure of the Mississippi Annual Conference, a chart was compiled for all annual conferences in the Southeastern Jurisdiction. To view these numbers, click here.

Video Update.  To view the 10-minute video update given by the task force at the 2022 session of the Mississippi Annual Conference in Tupelo on July 14, 2022, click here.

September 16, 2022 Update.  The task force has decided to focus its work in following four areas listed below along with the primary lead/contact for each area along with other members of that subcommittee.

  1. Number of Districts Recommendation:  Rev. Mike Hicks, Sandra Rasberry, Rev. Paulette Buford
  2. New District Boundary Recommendations:  Rev. Emily Sanford, Andrew Richardson, Donna (DK) Baria
  3. New Bishop Orientation to the work of the task force: Rev. Dr. Stephen Cook
  4. District Operational Information Sharing: Cheryl Denley, Rev. Smith Lilley, Vera Thomas

Task Force Member Names listed in alphabetical order

Name Status
Donna (DK) Baria Lay person, Greenwood District
Rev. Paulette Buford-James Starkville District Superintendent
Rev. Dr. Stephen Cook  Dean of the cabinet and district superintendent
Cheryl Denley District secretary
Rev. Mike Hicks Retired clergy and former district superintendent
Rev. Smith Lilley Associate pastor, Tupelo First UMC
Sandra Rasberry Lay person and clergy spouse of former district superintendent
Andrew Richardson Lay person, Meridian District
Rev. Emily Sanford Pastor, Wesley UMC, Tupelo
Vera Thomas District lay leader, Seashore District 
Ex-Officio Members  
James Mason Lay Person and conference facilitator
LaToya Redd-Thompson Conference lay leader
David Stotts Lay person, Conference treasurer and chief benefits officer

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