Preliminary steps have been taken to merge the Northeast District and the Penn-Jersey District of The Wesleyan Church. The Northeast district conference approved the merger on February 10, 2018, by a vote of 95-10 and the Penn-Jersey district conference approved the merger on February 17 by a vote of 176-15.
The districts will submit a resolution to the General Board of the denomination, requesting its approval in May 2018. Upon a favorable vote by the General Board, a merging conference will be held on June 7-8, 2018, to organize the newly formed district, including the election of a district superintendent and a district board of administration.
The newly formed district will include the heavily populated area comprising the eastern half of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, the eastern third of New York State (including metropolitan New York City), Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. The new district will include 110 churches with a combined worship attendance of nearly 13,000.
“God is up to something very exciting here in the Northeast.” said Penn-Jersey District Superintendent Karl Eastlack. “He has strongly impressed upon us to reach his lost children among the 38 million who reside here, including the great cities of Philadelphia, New York City and Boston. This merger will help to fuel that passion in tangible ways.”
When asked about the Northeast/Penn-Jersey merger, Northeast District Superintendent Paul James said, “The Northeast District, which was formerly the Eastern NY/New England District and the Champlain District, feels a sense of excitement and destiny as it moves into the next step of its pilgrimage. The oldest district in The Wesleyan Church, the Northeast District has caught a new vision and a new purpose and mission.
“District personnel have been heard to say, ‘We’re willing to sacrifice comfort in order to achieve the mission of reaching the lost for Christ.’ This well-trained and motivated team does not see this merger as an ending but the beginning of a new chapter in effectively reaching the lost for Christ. With anticipation they believe that the best days for a Northeast Awakening are just ahead.”
James will retire after serving through the Northeast District conference this summer. He has served as a district superintendent in The Wesleyan Church for 17 years (Kansas from 1994 to 2001, and Eastern New York-New England/Northeast from 2008 to 2018).