During the 2016 session of the Alaska Annual Conference, General Secretary Thomas Kemper of the General Board of Global Ministries made it known that his intent was to cease the designation of “Missionary Conferences” within the geographic boundaries of the United States.
According to ¶ 587 of the 2016 United Methodist Book of Discipline only the General Conference can create a missionary conference or change a missionary conference to a provisional annual conference or an annual conference.
Because Alaska is not large enough to become either an annual conference nor a provisional annual conference, it appears our best path forward under the Discipline is as a Mission District, as described in ¶415.4 of the 2016 United Methodist Book of Discipline.
In order that United Methodists in Alaska might have some agency over their own future and which annual conference we might be aligned with, the Leadership Team voted on December 7 to ask the Bishop to call a special session of the Alaska Conference to vote on a petition to General Conference asking for Alaska to be released from missionary conference status at the close of the 2020 Jurisdictional Conference, so that the Western Jurisdiction can include Alaska within the boundaries of another conference in the same Episcopal Area.
While a district must meet one of the requirements listed in ¶415.4, Alaska definitively meets all four. In order for United Methodists in Alaska to continue in our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ, we believe becoming a mission district is in the best long-term interests of Alaska, the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area, and the denomination.