Nashville, Tenn.: United Methodist bishops from Africa, Europe, Asia and the U.S. will gather in Oklahoma City at the Skirvin Hilton for the Council of Bishops meeting, Nov. 2-7, 2014.
The meeting begins on Sunday, Nov. 2, with a memorial service at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City at 4 p.m. to remember bishops and their spouses who have passed away during the last year.
Among the meeting highlights will be the traditional ceremonial “passing of the gavel” from former Council president Bishop Rosemarie Wenner to Bishop Warner Brown of the San Francisco Episcopal Area on Monday at 10:45 a.m. CST. Bishop Brown assumed the presidency of the Council in May, but the full Council last met in November so the formal recognition will occur at the beginning of this meeting.
Immediately following the ceremony, Bishop Brown will present the annual presidential address to the Council – which will be live streamed for the first time. Viewers can watch the speech online while it is happening at umc.org/cobaddress, where it will also be archived for later viewing.
“Being in the position of leading the Council means helping us be effective as a leadership organization. Our job is to be the spiritual and temporal leaders for the church ... we must speak as pastors to the church and to keep the Wesleyan spirit alive,” said Bishop Brown in an interview with United Methodist Communications. (Read the interview in its entirety.)
The Council will meet jointly with the Connectional Table beginning Wednesday afternoon through noon on Friday. Topics to be discussed include vital congregations, the Four Areas of Focus, and the worldwide nature of the church.
On Nov. 6, an “act of repentance” service will be held at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church for members of the Council and special guests. Several governors of Indian nations have been invited, as well as three Oklahoma Supreme Court justices who are active in native affairs in Oklahoma--Justice Steven Taylor, Justice Noma Gurich and Justice Yvonne Kauger.
“For me and for the people of Oklahoma especially, this is the continuation of what we began in Tampa with the Act of Repentance at the 2012 General Conference,” said Bishop Robert Hayes of the Oklahoma Episcopal Area. “We continued that journey in May in Cherokee, N.C. where we remembered the start of the Trail of Tears, and now we continue to where that trail ended. Symbolically, we are in a very sacred place for Native Americans.”
Time for spiritual reflection is a part of the Council’s agenda, including daily worship and communion and small group meetings. Plenary business sessions, held Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings, as well as each afternoon Monday-Friday, are open to the news media and the public. There will also be various committee and sub-group meetings throughout the week.