In an announcement released at the end February, the Greater New Jersey Delegation stated that it will not be endorsing a candidate for bishop for the 2016 Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference.
Every four years, United Methodists elect new bishops to fill any vacancies due to retirement. Within the United States, bishops are elected in their jurisdiction. GNJ is located within the Northeastern Jurisdiction which is comprised of 10 conferences. The 10 conferences of the Northeastern Jurisdiction send delegates to the Jurisdictional Conference which will be held this July in Lancaster, Pa. GNJ will be sending 16 delegates who were elected at the 2015 GNJ Annual Conference Session.
What are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Bishop?
“The saying is sure: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task,” writes Paul in his first letter to Timothy. Bishops in the UMC are tasked with the spiritual and temporal leadership of the church. In order to be properly equipped for this task, the Book of Discipline describes bishops as having:
• a vital and renewing spirit
• an enquiring mind and a commitment to the teaching office
• a vision for the Church
• a prophetic commitment for the transformation of the Church and the world
• a passion for the unity of the church
• giftedness in the ministry of administration. (¶403)
A bishop must be an ordained elder of the church. Bishops are elected for life and may remain in active service until age 72.
As a spiritual leader, the bishop has the responsibility to teach, preach and lead the church to grow in faith and make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
As an executive leader the bishop is responsible for assessing and assigning clergy to churches, raising funds for the life of the conference and General Church mission, casting a compelling vision and organizing the conference to pursue the vision and accomplish goals associated with the vision.
Important skills and attributes of a candidate for bishop include a caring heart, strong biblical and theological understanding, ability to interpret the Book of Discipline, a strategic mind, cultural competence, commitment to the global church, and an ability to connect with religious, business, governmental and community leaders.
Clergy and laity from GNJ proposed seven clergy to be considered as a nominee from GNJ. Two of the seven agreed to be considered as a nominee from GNJ, Rev. Dr. Heasun Kim and Rev. Dr. Jisun Kwak. The 2016 GNJ Annual Conference Session will have the opportunity by ballot to nominate an individual for bishop to the Northeastern Jurisdiction Conference in July. It may also vote not to nominate a candidate.
As a part of the GNJ rules, the GNJ delegates to the Jurisdictional Conference may recommend a nominee to the 2016 Annual Conference Session. Using a process, the delegates voted not to recommend a nominee.
“Greater New Jersey is blessed to have Rev. Dr. Heasun Kim and Rev. Dr. Jisun Kwak, clergy of high caliber and pastoral gifts.” said the Rev. Tom Lank, the head of the GNJ delegation. “We are grateful that they are willing to be evaluated to be candidates for bishop.
“The delegation took a full day to develop a common understanding of the core competencies necessary for a bishop, to develop questions that would allow us a lens to evaluate the candidates according to those core competencies and to conduct the interviews with the candidates. Each interview began and ended in prayer. Following the interviews, we deliberated extensively. When it came time to vote on whether or not to endorse a candidate, we took time to place the matter before God in prayer. While neither candidate reached the threshold of 60 percent approval for endorsement, we maintain the highest respect for Rev. Dr. Heasun Kim and Rev. Dr. Jisun Kwak.”
Rev. Kwak recently received the endorsement of the National Federation of Asian American United Methodists, one of the bodies that may nominate candidates for bishop and therefore Rev. Kwak will be a candidate for bishop at the Jurisdictional Conference in July.
At the GNJ May Annual Conference Session, the members will have the opportunity to vote on whether or not to nominate a candidate for bishop. The ballot will include three choices:
1. Rev. Dr. Heasun Kim
2. Rev. Dr. Jisun Kwak
3. No Endorsement
For more information about the election of bishops and a full statement from Rev. Tom Lank go to https://www.gnjumc.org/2016-northeastern-jurisdictional-conference/nomination-for-new-bishops/