Annual Conferences Vote Overwhelmingly to Approve Unification Plan

Unification vote

The plan will now go to the South Central Jurisdictional Conference on July 10-12

In May and June, members of the Central, North and Northwest Texas Conferences gathered for their annual conference meetings. On the agenda at all three was a shared resolution: The Unification Plan for the Central, North and Northwest Texas Annual Conferences.

The 56-page document was developed by the joint Unification Implementation Team and includes the rationale for unification, as well as plans for the new conference’s committee and board structure, personnel and staffing plan, apportionments, office locations and conference identity. Co-chairs of the Unification Implementation Team were Rev. Richard Edwards (NWTX), Kim Simpson (CTC) and Kenneth Wolverton (NTC).

“When the Bishop asked us in December to convene this team, to lead this important work and to deliver the Unification Plan in April, the task ahead of us loomed so large, it felt nearly impossible,” said Unification Implementation Team Co-Chair Kenneth Wolverton. “However, I have seen the Spirit work through the more than 130 individuals from across our three conferences who have contributed to the development of this Unification Plan. From the Board of Pension and Health Benefits, to Finance, to Mission and Vision, to Legal, each of the 14 sub-teams has done thoughtful, thorough work to discern and develop a way forward that gives me a lot of hope and excitement for our shared future.”

Northwest Texas was the first of the three annual conferences to convene, and on May 20, they voted unanimously in favor of the resolution. The North Texas Conference took up the resolution on June 3 and saw nearly unanimous approval. On June 10, the Central Texas Conference cast the final vote, another unanimous vote in favor of the Unification Plan.

“When we began this work of unification, we had a goal of 80 percent approval at each vote. We wanted to make sure that unifying was truly the will of our annual conferences and the will of God,” said Bishop Rubén Sáenz Jr. “To see all three annual conferences support this plan with such overwhelming strength and enthusiasm, we can be confident in our next steps. Now we can boldly, with one voice, proclaim that we are Jesus followers, seeking the loving, just and free world that God imagines for all people, across our entire geographic region.”

With the support of all three annual conferences, the plan will now go to the South Central Jurisdictional Conference as they convene July 10-12 in Rogers, Arkansas, with a request that they would:

  1. Approve the realignment of the conferences’ current boundaries to form one new conference, to be known as the “Horizon Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church;”
  2. Authorize the Central, North and Northwest Texas Conferences to conduct a joint organizational conference (Unifying Conference), prior to the formation of the new Horizon Texas Conference; and
  3. Authorize the Horizon Texas Conference to commence operations as a fully unified conference of The United Methodist Church after the completion of the joint organizational conference.

Following the decisions of the South Central Jurisdictional Conference, the Unifying Conference for the Horizon Texas Conference is scheduled for Sept. 28 in Abilene.

Published: Wednesday, June 12, 2024