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Standing Committee Says More Bishops Needed in Africa

Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters

February 9, 2015

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Maputo, Mozambique: Meeting in Mozambique this week, the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters voted to recommend to the 2016 General Conference the addition of five new bishops in Africa beginning during the 2021-2024 quadrennium.

The recommendation comes after an assessment team evaluating the need and potential in three episcopal areas – in North Katanga, South Congo and Zimbabwe – reported that the overall need in Africa reaches far beyond the areas evaluated. Three subgroups of the team conducted the assessments during the week of January 26. The subgroups met with the bishops, staff, district superintendents, presidents of UMW and UMM, youth and young adults, lay leaders, school and local authorities, pastors and members of local churches, and others.

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The Rev. Rodney Steele presents the report of the assessment teams.


The 2012 General Conference established a set of criteria for episcopal areas in central conferences and asked that assessments into the mission potential be made. These criteria help evaluate the workload given to a bishop, foremost related to the number of active clergy and charge conferences. Other factors in the set of criteria include the size and diversity of the geographic area, the difficulty of transportation, the number of languages spoken, the bishops’ role in the area, and the potential for missional outreach.

The assessment team found that the recommendation of only one new episcopal area for the Congo would be insufficient; that the need for additional bishops in Africa affects more regions and central conferences than those assessed; and that the size and territories covered by central conferences have made them dysfunctional.

Therefore, the Standing Committee unanimously voted to plan, organize and implement a collaborative comprehensive plan on numbers and boundaries of central conferences and episcopal areas in Africa.

The Standing Committee voted to propose that:

  • A focus on Africa, its central conferences and episcopal areas, take place between 2017-2019 under the leadership of the Standing Committee, with participation of a representative team of the Africa central conferences (to be composed of representatives of all 30 provisional and annual conferences, elected by their central conferences, and all active African bishops)
  • Standing Committee participation be limited to 10 members not from Africa
  • Legislation be submitted to the 2020 General Conference recommending a revision of the number and boundaries of the central conferences in Africa and the episcopal areas in each central conference, including enabling actions to organize the “constituting sessions” of the central conferences and to raise the total of episcopal areas in Africa from 13 to 18.

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For Further Information: Bishop Patrick Streiff, chairperson -
bishop@umc-europe.org