South Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops Join Texas Bishops in a Call to Address the Humanitarian Crisis Along U.S. Southern Border

South Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops Join Texas Bishops in a Call to Address the Humanitarian Crisis Along U.S. Southern Border

For Immediate Release

October 11, 2019

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We continue to watch with increasing distress the unfolding immigration crisis taking place along our southern border. And while much of the debate centers on the states of Texas and New Mexico, the reality is that immigration policy impacts the lives of many thousands of undocumented immigrants and asylum-seekers throughout our South Central Jurisdiction. Many of our communities are blessed with the gifts and contributions of first-generation, nonwhite, foreign-born populations.

Christian teaching tells us that realities that forcibly displace and dehumanize people must spur us to practical concern and action. Our actions must be more than just words and prayers, but rather care that hospitably tends to their wounds, needs, fears and hopes. As bishops of The United Methodist Church, we call on all people of goodwill to pray for and work toward:

Ending policies that separate families;
Ensuring compassionate care for the health and welfare of children;
Providing safe and humane care for undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers fleeing violence in their native countries;
A common solution that respects, cares for and offers tangible assistance to those immigrants and asylum seekers who are living in fear, hurting and homeless;
Working with officials in other countries to address root causes of violence and poverty, which threaten the health and safety of their citizens and force our sisters and brothers to flee their countries of origin.

Amid economic and national security concerns, we ask all who follow Christ to remember that our Savior was himself a homeless refugee fleeing violence (Matthew 2:13-14). As God’s people of hope and light in the world, let us not succumb to the fear that hardens hearts; rather, transcend fear with love and generosity so that all people are cared for with compassion.

May the peace of Christ be with you and the immigrant and refugee children and families in our midst who are suffering in hope.

Yours in Christ,

The South Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops


W. Earl Bledsoe

Robert Farr, SCJ president

Cynthia Harvey

Scott Jones

Michael Lowry

Mike McKee

Gary E. Mueller

James G. Nunn

Ruben Saenz, Jr.

Robert Schnase


Bruce P. Blake

Charles N. Crutchfield

Robert E. Hayes

Woodrow J. Hearn

Janice Riggle Huie

William W. Hutchinson

Joel N. Martinez

Albert F. Mutti

Alfred L. Norris

John W. Russell

Ann Sherer-Simpson

Dan E. Solomon

D. Max Whitfield

Richard B. Wilke

Joe A. Wilson

Two retired bishops die on same day

Bishop Benjamin Chamness (left) and Bishop William B. Oden (right).

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church regrets to announce the deaths of two retired bishops, Bishop Benjamin Chamness and Bishop William B. Oden.

Bishop Benjamin Chamness

Bishop Benjamin Chamness died Saturday, December 22, 2018 in Huntsville, Texas, with his wife, Joye, and family by his side.

Bishop Chamness was elected to the episcopacy by the South Central Jurisdictional Conference in 2000 and assigned to the Fort Worth Area.  Bishop Chamness served as the resident Bishop of the Central Texas Conference and the Fort Worth Area. He retired from the episcopacy in 2008.

Bishop Benjamin Chamness will be buried at Rehobeth UMC (126 Co Rd 207, Carthage, TX 75633) on Saturday, December 29, 2018 at 2 pm. His memorial service will be at First UMC of Huntsville (1016 Sam Houston Ave, Huntsville, TX 77320) on Friday, January 4, 2019 at 11 am. Clergy who attend the memorial service are invited to wear robes with white stoles and sit as a group. Clergy spouses who are present are invited to sit with their spouses.

Condolences may be sent to:
Mrs. Joye Chamness
319 Elkins Lake
Huntsville, TX 77340

Former Council of Bishops President Bishop William B. Oden.

With his family surrounding him, Bishop William B. Oden passed away on Saturday, December 22, 2018 in Highlands Ranch, CO.

Bishop Oden was elected to the episcopacy by the South Central Jurisdictional Conference in 1988; he served the Louisiana Area (1988 -1996), and the Dallas Area from 1996 until his retirement in 2004. He served as Ecumenical Officer of the Council of Bishops from 2004-2008.

Bishop Oden was president of the Council of Bishops from 2000-2001.

Please keep his wife, Marilyn, and their children in your prayers.

Condolences can be sent to:
Mrs. Marilyn Oden
3091 Mill Vista Road #1214
Highlands Ranch, CO 80129

Funeral details are still being planned.


Media Contact: Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga
Director of Communications – Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church

Commission ends its work; hears bishops’ recommendation for a way forward

The 32-member Commission on a Way Forward for The United Methodist Church concluded its ninth and final meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, yesterday (May 16).

The Commission met nine times over 17 months. The Commission reviewed a wide variety of petitions presented as legislation to previous General Conferences regarding human sexuality and examined how other faith communities and denominations are responding or have responded to the question of inclusion of LGBTQ persons.

“The key part of the early work was to build trust and intentional community among a group of people who had good reasons not to trust each other,” said Bishop David Yemba, one of the moderators of the Commission.

At the heart of the work on relationship building was the book, The Anatomy of Peace, from the Arbinger Institute. The focus of The Anatomy of Peace is to help people build the capacity for living through conflict with a heart of peace instead of a heart at war. A heart of peace helps us to see and treat others as people while a heart at war tends to see and treat others as objects, obstacles, or problems.

“A heart at war exaggerates our differences. A heart at peace sees what we have in common,” said Bishop Yemba.

The Commission wrote a covenant with each other that both guided the work of the Commission and helped to build community and trust. Commission members focused on finding a way forward rather than on representing groups or constituencies.

“The Commission’s practice of voicing differing theological views and interpretations of scripture stands as a model for what kind of ministry we are both called and empowered by God to do,” said Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball, one of the moderators. “This led us to discover the interests behind the various positions and opened up multiple possibilities for how the church can continue to fulfill the ministry of Christ in both unity and with diversity.”

The Commission spent significant time listening to the church through an open framework for receiving documents, ideas, and testimonies. The Commission received and processed feedback from boards and agencies, local churches, annual conferences, individual lay and clergy persons, candidates for ministry, and seminary students. Conversations took place with individuals and interest groups across the globe.

Along the way, Commission members worked on possible models for a way forward.

In November 2017, the Commission presented an extended interim report to the Council of Bishops. The report included three sketches: one that focused on accountability within the context of the current Book of Discipline language; one that focused on removing restrictive language and placing a high value on contextuality and protections of various perspective; and one that reimagined the church as a unified core with multiple branches.

In February 2018, the bishops held a special meeting to hear more details on the proposed plans from the Commission and to offer feedback.

With continued input from bishops and constituencies around the church, the Commission refined and adapted the models and presented its final report to the Council of Bishops in May 2018.

The Council of Bishops is in the process of revising and perfecting their report and recommendation based on the work of the Commission to the special session of General Conference 2019.

“We anticipate the report will be released in early July. Future work will be with delegations to create a culture that will listen to God, receive the report, and do this work with a heart of peace and not a heart of war,” said Bishop Ken Carter, president of the Council of Bishops.

Although their work is officially over, members of the Commission will collaborate with residential bishops in equipping delegations between now and 2019 General Conference, which will be held Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis, Missouri.


About the Commission: The Commission on a Way Forward was created after the 2016 General Conference approved a motion for the Council of Bishops to name a commission that would explore options to keep the unity of the church that had been threatened over the question of inclusion of LGBTQ persons. The Commission is diverse body that represents the global church with members coming from nine countries with a variety of theological perspectives. The Commission is one third laity, one third clergy, and one third bishops and includes younger persons, LGBTQ persons, professors, administrators, pastors, youth ministers, campus ministers, lay leaders, large church pastors, and persons identified with renewal and advocacy groups.


Media Contact: Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga
Director of Communications – Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church