Moment for Mission
Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. — Matthew 11:28, NRSV
A shepherd of shepherds, this is the role of a bishop in The United Methodist Church.
Bishops are charged with providing spiritual oversight and seeing to it that the church's practices fall within those guidelines set by General Conference.
A bishop's work includes leading, guiding and unifying the church. It is not an easy task; it takes someone who is able to act with compassion and wisdom to navigate a diverse group of people who are in the midst of several different ministry settings. This is of particular importance as bishops oversee clergy appointments in the areas they serve.
Every four years, new bishops in the United States are elected by Jurisdictional Conferences. There are five jurisdictions in the U.S.: Northeastern, Southeastern, North Central, South Central and Western. A bishop is elected for one four-year term and can serve two consecutive terms in an area.
Bishops play an important role in keeping The United Methodist Church united. The work they do is connectional and vital at all levels in allowing us to continue in ministry together for the transformation of the world. While pastors are supported by local church giving, bishops are supported by our apportionments — more specifically, our generous giving to the Episcopal Fund.
O God, our Good Shepherd, we lift up those who have taken on the task of guiding your church, may their load be light as they follow your lead. Grant that we, the church, generously care for those who have answered the call to care for us. Amen.
From Disciple Ministries: Fifth Sunday After Pentecost – Generous God, we praise you for life itself and the spiritual renewal that you so freely give. Thank you for sending Jesus, who demonstrates what it means to be gentle and humble in heart. Gather our congregation in opportunities to respond to people's needs with tangible assistance. Fill us with your Spirit so that we are eager to help others, like Rebekah who gave water to a stranger and did not expect a reward. May our offerings be acceptable in your sight. We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen. (Genesis 24)
Bishops in The United Methodist Church have a diverse range of responsibilities, from ensuring that the church is operating in line with General Conference to overseeing clergy appointments. Even within the annual or regional conference, the bishop spends a significant amount of time traveling. It is important that a bishop is familiar with those flocks he or she is charged with overseeing.
Bishops are not only active locally, but also in leadership across the denomination. Bishops preside over plenary sessions at General Conference and are tasked with maintaining unity in The United Methodist Church. Bishops are currently active in moderating the Commission on a Way Forward, in response to the diverse opinions on how the church will move forward in the matter of human sexuality.
The United Methodist Church is able to provide for salary, housing and travel expenses through the Episcopal Fund. The Episcopal Fund is maintained through congregations faithfully giving to their apportionments. Our gifts allow the important work of the bishops to continue.