Examination begins on uniting Memphis and Tennessee Conferences
Interim Resident Bishop
Nashville Episcopal Area
(Memphis and Tennessee Conferences)
The United Methodist Church
The first gathering of the newly named Committee on Uniting Conferences was held in Jackson, TN on March 29. The purpose of the committee is to study the reasons for unification and the issues involved, and to make some recommendation to the Memphis and Tennessee Annual Conferences in due time. A progress report on the work of the committee is planned for the 2012 sessions of the conferences, but no recommendation will be forthcoming at this time.
Clarity was brought to the committee that no foregone conclusion has been made regarding unification of the two conferences, although the leadership of the Southeast Jurisdiction would like to see it happen. Reorganizations, right-sizing, and unifications of other conferences are taking place across the denomination. So it is an appropriate time for these two conferences to take a serious look at their future. But the decision is still in the hands of the two conferences.
While studies are being made by this study committee, other efforts will be made by the conferences to live in cooperative ministries, to explore opportunities of shared efforts, and to learn more about each other.
It has been pointed out that the Tennessee Conference sent pastors as a mission team in 1831 into what is now the Memphis Conference. A long relationship exists between the two conferences. Following its organization in 1840 the Memphis Conference has been aligned at various times with the North Mississippi Conference, the Louisville Conference, and the Tennessee Conference. Since the 1950s, the Memphis and Tennessee conferences have shared a bishop and been designated in the same Area of the United Methodist Church (or its predecessor).
The Committee on Uniting Conferences is co-chaired by Gary Shorb and Rev. Harriet Bryan. Its intent is to be totally transparent as it makes this study and communicates through various means with the people of the two conferences. Your prayers are coveted while the committee continues its work on your part.