In recent, historic sessions, delegates attending reconvened conferences of the Kentucky and Tennessee Districts of The Wesleyan Church voted overwhelmingly in favor of merging their two districts. If approved by the General Board of The Wesleyan Church at its November 2011 meeting, the new Kentucky-Tennessee District will have 69 local churches, 108 ordained ministers, 2400 covenant members, and an average primary worship attendance of over 3,100.

General Superintendent Jerry Pence, who is presiding over the merger process, commended leaders and delegates for their courageous decisions to reinvent their ministries, refocus existing congregations on church health and multiplication, pursue revival, and remove obstacles to church growth. “Your unity and vision are an inspiring example,” he said, “as you intentionally join forces to spread hope and holiness that will result in more disciples, leaders and churches.”

The vote by Kentucky delegates on November 4 was 78 percent in favor of merger. The next day, November 5, Tennessee delegates voted unanimously to support the proposal. Plans are to convene a merging conference on May 4-5, 2012, to conduct victory celebrations for both of the former districts, elect a superintendent for the new district, adopt operating policies, and elect district officials and boards. The merger, if approved, will take effect following General Conference 2012, which coincidentally will take place in Lexington, Kentucky, where the new district will be headquartered.

Last summer, the Reverend Glenn Black announced his intention to retire as Kentucky district superintendent following General Conference, completing 22 years in that office. Dr. Marlin Hotle was elected as Tennessee district superintendent in 1992, since which that district has grown by 50% in total number of churches and doubled its average worship attendance. In addition to serving on the nine-member task force that prepared a 22-page “basis for merger” document, both leaders also conducted a series of regional information meetings that allowed interested ministers and lay persons to review the committee’s report and recommendations prior to the reconvened conferences. Rev. Black and Dr. Hotle will continue to fulfill their current official duties until June 30, 2012, when the merger transition will be complete.

 – Wesleyan Information Network (WIN)