William Willimon elected bishop of the United Methodist Church


July 14, 2004                              


LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) — The Rev. William H. Willimon, Durham, N.C., has been elected a bishop by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Willimon, dean of the Duke University Chapel, was elected July 14. He will fill one of the vacancies created in the jurisdictional College of Bishops by the retirements of six bishops.

Endorsed by the South Carolina delegation, Willimon was elected on the fourth ballot, receiving 350 of 556 votes cast.

“I am looking forward to the adventure,” he said. “I have done a lot of thinking about what the church should do, and now I have a chance to do it.”

The new bishops are being elected by 556 delegates attending the conference.

Willimon will be one of 50 active U.S. bishops leading the United Methodist Church and serving in one of the episcopal areas in the 15 annual conferences. The denomination’s Southeastern Jurisdiction includes the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

A consecration service for the six new bishops will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday, July 17, at the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center.

An episcopal assignment committee is already considering where Willimon and other active bishops will serve for the next four years. Their assignments will be effective Sept. 1.

While the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference is occurring, four other United Methodist jurisdictional conferences are meeting to elect 15 other bishops.

Coming from a college campus, Willimon said he will continue to seek out the wisdom of young people in his new position. “I will always find the new generation and say ‘Come on, let’s take over the church.’”

A jurisdictional conference has the following power and duties:

  • To promote the evangelistic, educational, missionary and benevolent interests of the church and to provide for interests and institutions within their boundaries.
  • To elect bishops.
  • To establish and constitute jurisdictional conference boards as auxiliaries to the general boards of the church.
  • To determine the boundaries of annual conferences.
  • To make rules and regulations for the administration of the church’s work within the jurisdiction.
  • To appoint a committee on appeals.

The United Methodist Church was created in 1968 by a merger of the Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist churches. Methodists elected their bishops at one national gathering until 1940, when the jurisdictional system was instituted. Bishops in the EUB church were elected at one national gathering until 1968.


News media contact: Kathy Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.


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