The Kansas West, Kansas East and Nebraska United Methodist conferences will be incorporated into a single conference, based in Wichita, starting in January 2014.
Church members from Nebraska and Kansas voted in late May and early June for the unification of the three conferences — regional bodies that supervise churches and clergy within a geographic area. The results were announced earlier this month by Kansas Bishop Scott Jones and Nebraska Bishop Ann Sherer-Simpson.
“The biggest impact for the churches in Wichita is that we will have a better process of assigning pastors to churches, with a very large pool of possible pastors who might be assigned,” Jones said. “So it’s possible that a pastor from Nebraska will come to Wichita.”
Over the next months, cabinets and working teams from the three conferences will meet and plan the new conference.
In late July, members of the South Central United Methodist jurisdiction will elect the new bishop for the Kansas-Nebraska conference. The position might be assigned to Jones or to someone else from the South Central jurisdiction, which includes Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.
The new bishop for the Kansas-Nebraska conference will reside in Wichita, although church headquarters in Topeka and in Lincoln, Neb., will remain.
The Kansas West and Kansas East conferences are geographically divided by U.S. 77.
Altogether, there are nearly 1,000 congregations and more than 229,000 United Methodists in Nebraska and Kansas.