By now, many of you have already read that Bishop Ruben Saenz will assume episcopal responsibility for the Central Texas Conference on January 1, 2022. His selection as the coverage bishop for Central Texas represents the culmination of a careful discernment process by the South Central College of Bishops in consultation with the South Central Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy and the Central Texas Committee on Episcopacy.
I treasure Bishop Saenz as a friend and have been blessed to work with him as a colleague bishop in the South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. With the coming episcopal coverage of Bishop Saenz, the Central Texas Conference of the UMC will gain a Holy Spirit-filled discerning leader committed to advancing the mission of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” I hold Bishop Saenz in very high-esteem and believe him to be one of our truly outstanding bishops.
I’ve known Bishop Saenz for many years. His ministry as a pastor growing the local church the Rio Grande Valley was pioneering in creative outreach evangelism and missions. He has lead congregations in remarkable growth both missionally in love, justice and mercy as well as in numerical evangelistic growth. I believe Bishop Saenz is singularly positioned to help the larger community of faith reach a new generation of Christ-followers.
In coming seven months, I will continue to serve the Central Texas Conference as your resident bishop with a joyful spirit and a heartfelt commitment to faithful and fruitful ministry.
The full text of the official South Central Jurisdictional College of Bishops press release is as follows:
COB Approves Episcopal Supervision Recommendations for SCJ
June 3, 2021 – The Council of Bishops (COB) of The United Methodist Church has approved episcopal supervision recommendations for the South Central Jurisdiction (SCJ), due to the retirement of two bishops. The recommendations were made by the SCJ College of Bishops following consultation with the Jurisdictional and respective Annual Conference Committees on Episcopacy.
This follows decisions by Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe (Northwest Texas-New Mexico) and Bishop J. Michael Lowry (Central Texas) to request retirement effective January 1, 2022, under paragraph 408.2b of The Book of Discipline.
Under Paragraph ¶407 of the Book of Discipline, the Council of Bishops has authority to fill a vacancy for presidential/episcopal supervision of an episcopal area due to death, retirement (¶ 408.1, .2, .3), resignation (¶ 408.4), judicial procedure (¶ 2712), leave of absence (¶ 410.1), or medical leave (¶ 410.4).
After prayer and discernment, the bishops have approved the following recommendations for episcopal supervision:
- Northwest Texas Conference: Bishop James G. Nunn (Oklahoma Conference/Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference)
- New Mexico Conference: Bishop Robert C. Schnase (Rio Texas Conference)
- Central Texas Conference: Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. (Great Plains Conference)
The new roles are effective January 1, 2022 and will continue until new bishops are elected in the SCJ. The SCJ Committee on Episcopacy will make the assignment of bishops once the new bishops are elected at the next regular session of Jurisdictional Conference.