Rio Texas Conference Bishop to Resign Jan. 1

Bishop Michael McKee, president of the South Central Jurisdictional College of Bishops and episcopal leader of the North Texas Conference has announced that the College of Bishops has accepted the resignation of Bishop James Dorff of the Rio Texas Conference following a complaint.

In a letter released Friday, Dec. 4, Bishop Dorff stated the following:
"It is so difficult to admit and share, but I must inform you that I did not uphold the sacred vows I made to God at my wedding, at my consecration as bishop, and at my ordination as elder. I crossed what were the clear expectations of relational boundaries.
For this transgression, I am profoundly sorry. I offer my sincerest apologies to all concerned. My actions have caused pain to many, including my family, the person involved, each of you, members of the annual conference, and the greater church. I am so, so sorry."

Bishop Lowry, episcopal leader of the Central Texas Conference UMC, expressed deep concern and sorrow over today's announcement. "As many know, I was elected out of the Southwest Texas Conference, which is now part of the newly formed Rio Texas Conference, and Bishop Dorff is a personal friend. I grieve for the churches, the clergy and lay leadership of the Rio Texas conference and everyone both directly and indirectly involved in this painful situation. I ask that everyone joins me in praying for the Rio Texas Conference. May the healing that Christ alone can bring be provided to all who are affected by this tragic situation."

Bishop Dorff will voluntarily resign and surrender his credentials effective Jan.1, 2016. An interim bishop will be appointed to serve the Rio Texas Conference, and until the interim bishop is appointed, Bishop McKee will provide episcopal oversight.
“This is a difficult situation for everyone involved, but we are confident that the ongoing ministries of the conference will continue under the capable leadership of the experienced, faithful conference staff and laity,” said Bishop McKee, who will work with the leaders of the Rio Texas Conference to assure a smooth transition.
During the South Central Jurisdictional Conference (SCJC) in July 2016, a new bishop for the Rio Texas Conference will be elected and appointed to a term which begins Sept. 1, 2016.
The election of a new bishop for Rio Texas was already planned due to Bishop Dorff’s planned retirement in 2016. As such, his resignation does not increase the number of bishops to be elected in 2016. Currently three episcopal vacancies are expected to be filled at the 2016 SCJC – Oklahoma, Rio Texas and Texas Conferences
Bishop Dorff was elected to the episcopacy in 2008. Prior to his election, he served as a pastor in the North Texas Conference for 36 years. The Rio Texas Conference serves South Texas with nearly 400 churches.