By Madeline White (Virginia Conference)
LAKE JUNALUSKA, NC—-Bishop Sharma D. Lewis, episcopal leader of the Richmond Area, presided over the afternoon session beginning at 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday, November 2, 2022.
Ballot #1 was shared, and there was no election. Three hundred and fifty-two (352) votes were cast and three hundred and fifty votes were valid (350). Two hundred and ten (210) votes were needed for the election. The Rev. Tom Berlin, episcopal nominee from the Virginia Conference, received 180 votes.
Bishop Bill McAulily joined via Zoom to share the report from the Committee on Coordination and Accountability. Before the report, during a moment of personal privilege, McAulily shared his thanks for all the expressions of concern following his injuries in a major car accident in August. McAulily began medical leave on November 1 and is now working toward the next stage of his recovery through outpatient therapy.
He then gave the Committee on Coordination and Accountability (CCA) report which can be found on pages 55-58 in the Advanced Daily Christian Advocate (ADCA).
The Committee brought a recommendation that the SEJ CCA and SEJ Council on Finance & Administration (CFA) streamline their structure into one committee.
A vote was taken by a show of hands, and the motion was approved by the body.
According to Book of Discipline Paragraph 405.1, any individual who receives 10 or more votes as ballot write-ins are given 10 minutes to come to the podium and are added to the episcopal nominee ballot.
Three individuals received 10 or more votes on Ballot #1.
The Rev. Dr. Zachery Beasley, Mississippi Conference, spoke first. He said he felt he is called to this time of the church not because he has all the answers but because he feels God has equipped him for this time.
The Rev. Robin Deese, South Carolina Conference, spoke next and began with a prayer. She shared she wanted to be transparent and shared that she does not believe homosexuality is a sin and that LGBTQ individuals can be called by God, ordained and serve UMC churches well. She also shared that this is not the only issue the church faces.
The Rev. Rob Martin, Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference, who sees the vision of the church is that God is not done with United Methodists and United Methodists should not be done with belief in grace and acts of justice and mercy.
After the speeches, Dease dropped her name for consideration for the episcopacy.
Bishop Charlene Kammerer, retired, prayed before Ballot #2.
A video was shown about the Hinton Rural Life Center, a retreat and conference center in the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina, that is also a mission agency that works alongside neighbors at the Safe and Healthy Home Repair ministry. Hinton seeks to enhance the long-term quality of life in rural areas.
A video was also shown about Abundant Health Ministries reminding the body to breathe for 60 seconds. The video added a moment of levity and laughter for the entire SEJ body before the second ballot was taken.
Ballot #2 results were shared at 3:23 p.m. It was an invalid ballot. The body prepared for a third ballot.
An update was given from the SEJ Archives and History Vice Chair Mike Feely. Of note, records of the Southeastern Jurisdiction (SEJ) will move to Pitts Theology Library at Emory University in Atlanta. The Heritage Center in Lake Junaluska will close in December 2022 to prepare for the move.
Ballot #3 results were not ready to be shared. Bishop Lewis recessed the body until 4:05 p.m.