|Bishops elect Huie president, Palmer president-designate|
Nov. 7, 2005
|A UMNS photo by Tim Tanton
Secretary Ernest Lyght (left) and President Peter Weaver (right)
congratulate Gregory Palmer and Janice Huie after the election.
By Tim Tanton*
LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) — Bishop Janice Riggle Huie of Texas will
take office as president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops
during a milestone year in which the church marks the 50th anniversary
of full clergy rights for women.
The council elected Huie as its next president and Bishop Gregory V. Palmer of Iowa as president-designate, effective in May.
Taking office during the 50th anniversary year of full clergy rights
for women puts “an additional dimension to this office,” Huie said Nov.
3, in an interview after the election.
“I find myself grateful for the women who went before me that paved
the way for me to receive this gift and responsibility,” she said. “I’m
strengthened by their witness because they charted new territory too,
and they did it with God’s strength, and if there’s a lesson … for me,
that’s the strength I need to rely on as well.”
Huie, 58, will succeed Bishop Peter D. Weaver of the Boston Area as
president for a two-year term. Palmer, 51, is in line to succeed her.
The council, with offices in Washington, comprises 69 active bishops and
100 retired bishops; they are the clergy leaders of the nearly 11
million-member church in the United States, Africa, Europe and Asia.
Palmer and Huie were elected during the council’s Oct. 30-Nov. 4
meeting in Lake Junaluska. Though the leadership change occurs in May, a
formal ceremony probably won’t be held until the full council meets
again in fall 2006. The bishops are forgoing their regular spring
meeting because their fall gathering will be in Mozambique.
Bishop Ernest Lyght of the West Virginia Area was re-elected
secretary of the council during the weeklong meeting. He took office in
Elected as a bishop in 1996, Huie served in Arkansas for eight years before being assigned to lead the Houston Area in 2004.
|A UMNS photo by Tim Tanton
are active at all levels of the church. Bishops Charlene Kammerer
(foreground, left) and Violet Fisher (foreground, right) join in a
blessing at the Council of Bishops’ fall gathering.
“I still am deeply honored and feel a profound sense of humility that
the Council of Bishops would elect me to this position,” Huie said
after the vote Nov. 3. “This is both a gift and an enormous
responsibility. I certainly will do my best to be faithful to what the
council needs, but most important, faithful to God.”
Palmer has led the Iowa Area since being elected to the episcopacy in
2000. He said he felt overwhelmed, humbled and honored by his election
The election is important, he said, “because I believe among the
deepest hungers of the church is (the hunger) for leadership in the
church. … It’s a crucial time for the Council of Bishops to continue to
offer strong corporate leadership to the church.”
Both bishops described their commitment to the council’s emphasis on
“Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World.”
“That’s very personal with me as well as (being) what the council believes is the mission of the church,” Huie said.
“I believe that this is our mission into God’s future,” she said. It
is a mission that extends beyond the 2005-08 quadrennium. “…What we’ve
done here in this quadrennium is to reclaim our historic mission, and
therefore I don’t see this as a quadrennial focus. We’re living into the
mission of the church. This is much deeper than a quadrennial focus.”
“The making of disciples has always been key and central to what is the heart of the mission of the church,” Palmer said.
|A UMNS photo by Tim Tanton
Peter Weaver will lead the council as president for another six months.
Bishop Ernest Lyght, council secretary, is seated next to him.
He is pleased the council is leveraging its resources to lead the
church in that way, he said. “We lead the church by saying, ‘This is our
mission, and this is what’s important.’”
Weaver, who remains president of the council for six more months, is
the first person to serve in that post for a two-year term under the
council’s new leadership structure. Previously, bishops served one-year
terms. The council also has placed its leadership in the hands of a team
comprising the president, past president, president-designate,
secretary, executive secretary and ecumenical officer.
The elections of Huie and Palmer represent the first time there has
been continuity in the new leadership structure, Weaver said. Through a
discernment process, the council tries to understand the complementary
gifts that people would bring to create a leadership team that works
“Bishop Huie and Bishop Palmer both have extraordinary gifts,” he
said, “and I’m looking forward to what God will do through them as they
help that leadership team serve the church as it serves the world.”
The council gave Weaver a standing ovation during the closing session of its meeting.
Huie told Weaver the council was grateful for his leadership, sense
of humor, the ways in which he helped the group “sing our faith,” the
amount of travel he has borne, and for his spiritual depth and ability
to lift the bishops “to a higher plane.”
“I’ve just been blessed to serve as a part of this” council, Weaver
said. The discernment process has enabled the council to put together an
incredible leadership team, he said, “… and to God be the glory.”
*Tanton is managing editor for United Methodist News Service
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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