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District Changes Staging
Bishop and Cabinet Announce Coming Changes to Districts Lines
The Louisiana Conference is consistently looking for ways to hold nothing sacred but the mission. There are times when that desire necessitates changes to the way we order the life of the Conference.
Last year, these changes included reducing the number of District Superintendents from 6 to 4 while maintaining six districts. This year, beginning July 1, 2021, we continue to strengthen our capacity for holding nothing sacred but the mission by redrawing our district lines.
Beginning July 1, 2021 district lines will be redrawn, resulting in the formation of a new district and other districts being realigned. We will continue to have 6 districts served by 4 superintendents.
Recognizing the ever changing landscape of the world in which we live, this “next step” is primarily designed to allow for more strategic collaboration, partnerships and affinity groupings. In addition, it shifts the workload of the 4 superintendents into a more manageable and equitable configuration.
As you may be aware, a study was called for in 2019 to consider the number of Districts. (¶ 415.4 of our Discipline designates that the Annual Conference determines the number of districts, while assigning the shaping of those districts to the bishop and cabinet.) That task force met and has done its work on examining an optimal number of districts.
At this time, however, the task force continues to feel that the best way forward is to hold onto their recommendation until the Annual Conference can meet in person. This redrawing of district lines does not negate or hinder their work, in fact it aligns with their recommendation while allowing for any future recommendations and decisions the Annual Conference may make regarding the number of districts.
To maintain 6 districts we have generally left the Baton Rouge and New Orleans districts intact. The majority of the Lake Charles and Acadiana districts will be combined and the lower portions of Monroe and Shreveport and the upper portions of Lake Charles and Acadiana will be realigned to form an Alexandria district.
There are also a few Baton Rouge and New Orleans churches that will shift to the Lake Charles-Acadiana district. To see the new district lines, locate your church within the new configuration, discern who your district superintendent will be, and more, please click here.
Re-Drawn Six Districts
Again, beginning July 1, the six districts of the Louisiana Conference will be as follows:
- Alexandria, District Superintendent: Rev. Karli Pidgeon
- Baton Rouge, District Superintendent: Rev. Jan Curwick
- Lake Charles-Acadiana, District Superintendent: Rev. Tom Dolph
- Monroe, District Superintendent: Rev. Wybra Price
- New Orleans, District Superintendent: Rev. Jan Curwick
- Shreveport, District Superintendent: Rev. Wybra Price
Frequently Asked Questions
We know you have questions, and the below questions hope to answer some of those. We also know that many of your questions are not addressed here; therefore, if you have a question, please reach out and ask.
Our goal with this communication is to be transparent and to allow everyone to ask questions and provide feedback. Fostering a culture of innovation is and always will be necessary. For this to happen, communication needs to be honest, genuine, and understandable.
What will the districts be called?
For now, the names primarily utilize major population centers in each of the districts. Further study and conversation will be held about renaming the districts in the future.
The names will be Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lake Charles-Acadiana, Monroe, New Orleans and Shreveport.
Does Annual Conference need to vote on these line changes?
The Book of Discipline is clear that an Annual Conference is the body that sets the number of districts, and the bishop and cabinet have the authority to designate the boundaries of those districts. See ¶ 415.4. Setting the boundaries of the number of districts set by the Annual Conference is within the purview of the bishop and cabinet; no Conference vote is needed.
How do I find out which district my church is in?
Click this link to find a list that includes each church in our Conference. If you see a possible problem, please alert us.
How were the new lines determined?
We began by using some current district lines and some Louisiana Parish lines to set a base division of the districts. Once that base was set, we then looked at things like United Methodist demographics (number of churches, members, attenders etc.), general population, communal affinity, travel pathways, and overall geography.
What are the financial implications?
This redrawing of district lines will have a minimal, if any, financial impact at the conference, district or local church level. The apportionments currently set for 2021 will remain in effect for the remainder of the year.
The one difference being that the district apportionments received for July and forward will be allocated to the redrawn district in which any particular local church resides. The Conference Council on Finance and Administration and the finance committees of the newly drawn districts will make adjustments to the 2022 district budgets as needed.
The redrawing of lines has no effect on the formula on which apportionments are calculated.
What does this mean for clergy?
Ministry in the world as we are currently experiencing it necessitates greater intentionality toward connectionism, collaboration and communication. The development of peer support and accountability will be critical.
Likewise, district superintendents will also be driven to innovate when it comes to supervising, coaching, and supporting you as a pastor. Though it sounds counterintuitive, relationships will deepen because new ways of staying connected and doing the work will have to be surfaced.
Redrawing the lines of the districts, hopefully, will lead to more focused, strategic and collaborative ministries.
What does this mean for the role of District Superintendent?
District superintendents are already called upon to become more intentional about, and adept at, staying connected. Redrawing the district lines should help achieve that goal by assisting them to focus on strategic leadership and innovative practices.
Though it sounds counterintuitive, relationships will deepen because new ways of staying connected and doing the work will have to be surfaced. Redrawing the districts leads both to a better balance in workload and, potentially, greater affinity-clustering which facilitates the needed adaptive work.
What does this mean to my local church?
Your local church will continue to have as its focus its unique mission field. It will still be part of a district and still have a district superintendent. Both the changing world in which we live and the redrawing of the district lines necessitate greater intentionality toward a sharp mission focus, collaboration and strategic partnerships, on the part of the local churches, districts, district superintendents, and Conference.
By reshaping the districts it is hoped that focus and responsiveness will increase. Being part of a more efficient and affinity-centric district will be an asset to local churches and pave the way for an even more connectional, collaborative, and relevant approach to our mission of making disciples for Christ for the transformation of the world.
What has changed since the current district lines were drawn?
Perhaps the most significant change can be summarized by a few numbers. In 2012, the last year we recorded stats for seven districts, the Louisiana Conference had 502 churches, 120,935 members, and 41,185 in worship.
Today, we have 449 churches, 107,038 members, and 32,466 in worship, with several more churches slated to close this year. While the population of Louisiana has remained relatively stable, Methodism in Louisiana has shrunk.
We can also add these realities to these numbers - we have a deeper understanding of the role of districts and district superintendents as missional strategists; the tools with which to communicate with speed and efficiency have vastly increased; and there has been, and continues to be, a significant shift in culture in general.
What is the timeline?
The new district lines will begin with the new appointment year, July 1, 2021. The logistics of such a redrawing are in place and are ready to be implemented as of that date.
Why redraw the lines now?
To keep up with the demands of today’s realities requires changes that allow the Church to focus on its mission while adapting itself to the new methodologies, strategies and models that are needed for success. If this is true, we need to continually examine both what we do and how we are structured as a Church.
Our study of the appropriate number and functions of the districts, the reduction of superintendents from 6 to 4, a call for more adaptive responses to the needs of the world are all pieces of that reexamination. The next logical step is to move toward a structure that will facilitate more strategic collaboration, partnerships and affinity groupings.
In addition, as we have tried to pay close attention to travel lines, geography and some natural communal affinities, local churches and superintendents will be afforded greater ease as we strategize the best methodologies and tactics for maintaining the singular sacredness of the mission.
Who are the leaders (clergy and laity) in my District?
You can find a list of projected officers in the preconference journal or by clicking here. Basically, if someone was elected to serve in district leadership for the 21-22 conference year you will continue to serve in that position in the “new” district. In some cases, this will mean co-leadership for a year.
In January of 2022 the nominating committees of the redrawn districts will propose the district leadership for the 22-23 conference year according to conference rules. The redrawing of district lines does not change any service on Conference boards or committees.
Organizations like UMW, UMM, and Conference youth may develop different leadership plans but until such plans are developed and released it should be assumed that no one will lose a current leadership position for the 21-22 conference year.
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