Six United Methodist bishops elected in the Southeast
July 17, 2004
By Kathy L. Gilbert
United Methodist News Service
LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS)—Six new bishops will lead United Methodists in the denomination’s Southeastern Jurisdiction.
During a July 14-17 conference at Lake Junaluska, N.C., 556 delegates elected the new episcopal leaders.
new bishops are, in order of election, the Rev. Hope Morgan Ward, North
Carolina Annual (regional) Conference; the Rev. William H. Willimon,
South Carolina Annual Conference; the Rev. James Swanson, South Georgia
Annual Conference; the Rev. Alfred W. Gwinn Jr., Kentucky Annual
Conference; the Rev. Richard J. Wills Jr., Florida Annual Conference;
and the Rev. Mary Virginia “Dindy” Taylor, Holston Annual Conference.
new bishops were consecrated during a July 17 worship service at Lake
Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center. They will begin their first
assignments as bishops on Sept. 1.
Bishop William H. Willimon
The first and last
bishops elected by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference were both
women. This is the first time the conference has elected two women as
bishops during the same session. Ward and Taylor will join Bishop
Charlene P. Kammerer, who was elected in 1996. Balloting began at noon
July 14, with the first election coming on the second ballot at 7:30
p.m. The sixth and final election occurred on the 34th ballot, which was
announced at 10:46 p.m. on July 16.
Southeastern United Methodist leaders will continue in office. They are
Bishop Lindsey G. Davis, Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster, Bishop Charlene P.
Kammerer, Bishop James R. King Jr., Bishop J. Lawrence McCleskey,
Bishop B. Michael Watson, and Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker. All 13
bishops will receive assignments on July 17 to 13 episcopal areas
throughout the region that includes 15 annual conferences in nine
conference also celebrated the retirement of six bishops who are
retiring. They are Bishop Kenneth L. Carder, Mississippi area; Bishop
Ray W. Chamberlain Jr., Holston area; Bishop Marion M. Edwards, Raleigh
area; Bishop Robert E. Fannin, Birmingham area; Bishop William Morris,
Nashville area; and Bishop Joe E. Pennel Jr., Richmond area.
Bishop James Swanson
Ward, who spent
her childhood in a three-church charge in rural eastern North Carolina,
currently serves as superintendent of the Raleigh district. Endorsed by
the North Carolina delegation, Ward was elected on the second ballot.
This is the first time the Southeastern Jurisdiction has elected a woman
as the first bishop-elect. She is second woman elected as a bishop in
was conference director of connectional ministries from 1997-2001 and
has served as pastor of Soapstone United Methodist Church, 1986-97;
pastor, Broadway United Methodist Church, 1983-86; minister of
education, White Plains United Methodist Church, 1970-83; teaching
parent and chaplain, Methodist Home for Children, 1977-79; and director
of Christian education and mission, Fairmont United Methodist Church,
received a master of divinity degree from Duke Divinity School in 1978
and a degree in English and religion from Duke in 1973. She is married
to Mike Ward and has two children, Jason and Brooke.
dean of the chapel and professor of Christian ministry at Duke
University for the past 20 years, was elected July 14. Endorsed by the
South Carolina delegation, he was elected on the fourth ballot.
is the author of 50 books, six videos and four audiotapes. He serves as
editor-at-large for The Christian Century, The Whittenburg Door, Pulpit
Digest and Preaching, and is editor and writer for the Pulpit Resource.
|A UMNS photo by Meredyth Earnest
The Rev. Al Gwinn reacts to becoming bishop-elect in the Southeastern Jurisidiction.
Willimon served as
pastor at Level Creek United Methodist Church, Buford, Ga., 1971;
associate pastor, Broad Street United Methodist Church, Clinton, S.C.,
1971-73; pastor Trinity United Methodist Church, North Myrtle Beach,
S.C., 1973-76; and pastor, Northside United Methodist Church,
Greenville, S.C., 1980-84.
has chaired the United Methodist Archives committee, is a trustee of
Wofford College and Christ School and has been a delegate to three
Southeastern Jurisdictional conferences and two General Conferences.
He is married to Patricia Parker and has two children, Harriett and William.
who has served as superintendent of the Savannah District of the South
Georgia Conference since 2001, was also elected July 14 on the fourth
ballot. He was endorsed by the South Georgia conference.
in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and ordained in the Church of
God, Swanson became pastor of the Statesboro Circuit in the South
Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church in 1981. He served as
pastor of St. Mary’s Road United Methodist Church, Columbus, Ga.,
1988-2001. He was the first African-American chair of the South Georgia
Annual Conference Council on Ministries and just completed eight years
as a member of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.
holds a degree in Christian ministries from Southern Bible College and a
master of divinity degree from C.H. Mason Seminary, Interdenominational
Theological Center, Atlanta. He is a candidate for a doctorate degree
in evangelism from Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist
University. He is married to Delphine Yvonne Ramsey, they have six
children and seven grandchildren.
Bishop Richard Wills
Gwinn, pastor of
Lexington (Ky.) First United Methodist Church, was elected July 15.
Endorsed by the Kentucky conference delegation, he was elected on the
being appointed to Lexington First, Gwinn was pastor of Lexington
Centenary United Methodist Church, 1987-97; and superintendent of the
Lexington district. He has also chaired of the conference board of
is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and Asbury Theological
Seminary. He is married to Joyce. They have two daughters and four
currently serves as pastor of Christ United Methodist Church, Ft.
Lauderdale, Fla., where he has been since 1986. Endorsed by the Florida
conference delegation, he was elected July 15.
earlier served as pastor of Crystal Lake United Methodist Church,
Lakeland, Fla., 1967-71; pastor, Madarin United Methodist Church,
Jacksonville, Fla., 1971-75; associate council director, 1975-78; and
pastor, Englewood United Methodist Church, Englewood, Fla., 1978-86.
has also served on the Florida Conference Board of Ordained Ministry;
the large church initiative steering committee of the United Methodist
Board of Discipleship; conference and jurisdictional committees on
episcopacy; been a delegate to General Conference and the Southeastern
Jurisdictional Conference and chaired of the Order of Elders and
conference camps task force. He is a trustee of Bethune-Cookman College.
|A UMNS photo by Meredyth Earnest.
New bishop Mary Virginia Taylor will be assigned to the Columbia, South Carolina area.
Waking to God’s Dream 2000 and is also the author of many articles on
spiritual leadership. He has a degree in psychology from Florida
Southern University and a master of divinity degree from Candler School
of Theology, Emory University.
superintendent of the Cleveland District of the Holston Conference, was
elected July 16. Endorsed by the Holston delegation, she was elected on
the 34th and final ballot.
has served as chaplain, Tennessee Wesleyan College, Athens, Tenn.,
1975-76; associate pastor, Fountain City United Methodist Church,
Knoxville, Tenn., 1977-78; pastor, Boones Creek United Methodist Church,
Gray, Tenn., 1979-82; pastor, Elizabeth Chapel United Methodist Church,
Bluff City, Tenn., 1983-86; pastor, St. Luke United Methodist Church,
Kingsport, Tenn., 1987-88; co-pastor, Wesley Memorial United Methodist
Church, Chattanooga, Tenn., 1989-95, pastor, Beaver Ridge United
Methodist Church, Knoxville, Tenn., 1996-98; district superintendent,
Cleveland, Tenn., 1999-present.
has been a member of the conference Board of Ordained Ministry and a
delegate to six General Conferences and six Southeastern Jurisdictional
Conferences. She served on the conference Council on Ministries and
conference Council on Finance and Administration, as well as on the
Ministry Design (conference restructuring) Team. She is also a trustee
of Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens.
graduated from the University of Georgia in 1972 and received her
master of divinity degree from Candler School of Theology in 1975. She
is married to the Rev. James Russell Taylor and they have two children.
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer.
News media contact: Kathy Gilbert ·(615) 742-5470·Nashville, Tenn.· E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.