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Annual conferences put forth six candidates for bishop's post


NOTE: Charles Johnson's birth date is Feb. 20, 1944. Editors and reporters who use this story after that date should change his age accordingly

By United Methodist News Service

Six candidates for bishop have emerged in the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. Only two of the six were nominated by their annual conferences before the election of three bishops last July.

The death of Bishop Cornelius Henderson in December prompted the bishops of the jurisdiction to issue a call for this special session of the nine-state region. It will take place Feb. 26-28 at Lake Junaluska, N.C.

Four men and two women have been endorsed by their annual conference delegations. One of the men is a Native American, and one is African American. The rest are white.

Martha H. Forrest, 61, is superintendent of the Atlanta-College Park District in the North Georgia Conference. A graduate of Duke University and Candler School of Theology, she served three churches as pastor between 1979 and 1998, when she became a district superintendent.

A voting member of the Commission on the Status and Role of Women from 1992 to 2000, she has also served as chairwoman of the North Georgia Council on Finance and Administration. She has been a delegate to jurisdictional conference, General Conference and the World Methodist Conference.

Forrest is married to Robert O. Forrest Sr., and they have three children.

Alfred (Al) Wesley Gwinn Jr., 57, is senior pastor at First United Methodist Church in Lexington, Ky. He has previously been superintendent of the Lexington District and has served two rural, an inner-city and four large-membership churches. He was co-chairman of the move uniting the former Louisville and Kentucky conferences.

Gwinn, who became an elder in the conference in 1971, earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Kentucky and his master of divinity at Asbury Theological Seminary.

An annual conference delegate to the last four General Conferences, he has served on the churchwide General Council of Ministries and the Southeastern Jurisdiction Administrative Council.

Gwinn and his wife, Joyce, have two daughters and four grandchildren.

Charles L. Johnson Sr., 56, an African American, is a conference director working with the South Carolina Conference Council on Ministries. A member of the conference since 1967, he has been a pastor, college chaplain and district superintendent. He earned a bachelor's degree from Claflin College, a master of divinity from the Interdenominational Theological Center and a master of sacred theology from Boston University.

Johnson has served on the conference board of ministry, council on ministries and council on finance and administration. He has been chairman of the conference's joint review and ethnic minority local church committees and been president of the council on finance and administration. Johnson is also a trustee of two church-related colleges.

In addition to being endorsed by the South Carolina delegation to jurisdictional conference, Johnson has the support of the Southeastern Jurisdiction Black Methodists for Church Renewal.

He and his wife, Charlene, have three children.

Jerry Hilton Mayo, 55, has been pastor of First United Methodist Church in Murfreesboro, Tenn., since 1992. Previously, he was superintendent of the Pulaski District. Mayo has served churches and country circuits since his student years at Middle Tennessee State University, where he earned a bachelor's degree. He received his master of divinity from Candler School of Theology.

Mayo has been a delegate to jurisdictional and General conferences, beginning with 1984. He has also been a member of the Southeastern Jurisdiction Board of Ordained Ministry and the committee on episcopacy. He has been the chairman of the Tennessee Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and the conference camping committee, a director of McKendree Village and a trustee of Martin College. He also served on the conference council on finance and administration and the council on ministries.

He and his wife, the former Patricia Scott, have four children and eight grandchildren.

Nancy Burgin Rankin, 49, is the superintendent of the Statesville District in the Western North Carolina Annual Conference. She has served three pastorates since becoming an elder in the conference, beginning in 1984. Previously, she was a preschool teacher in the Children's Enrichment Program at First United Methodist Church in High Point, N.C.

Rankin earned her bachelor of arts in Christian education at High Point University; her master of divinity at the Divinity School, Duke University; and her doctor of ministry degree at United Theological Seminary.

She has been a delegate to jurisdictional and General conferences. Rankin has been president of the Winston-Salem District Ministers Association, the Charlotte Area Clergy Association and the Duke University Divinity School National Alumni Association. She was the Winston-Salem District young adult ministries coordinator and has served on the Mecklenburg Ministries Board and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Methodist/Presbyterian Campus Ministry Board.

She is married to Terry A. Rankin, and they have two children and one grandchild.

Sam Wynn, 47, a Native American and member of the Lumbee tribe, is superintendent of New Bern District in the North Carolina Conference. He has been a pastor and executive director of the Native American International Caucus (NAIC). He was ordained an elder in 1982.

Wynn earned his bachelor of arts from Pembroke State University, his master of divinity from Asbury Theological School and his doctor of ministry from Drew University, The Theological School.

He has been a delegate to jurisdiction and General conferences and was an observer for NAIC at the 1980, 1984 and 1988 General Conferences. At the 2000 General Conference, he was chairman of the general/judicial administration legislative committee. He has also been a voting member of the General Council on Ministries and the churchwide Commission on Religion and Race. He was chairman of the denomination's Native American Comprehensive Plan from 1996 to 2000.

Along with support from the North Carolina delegation, Wynn has been endorsed by NAIC and the Southeastern Jurisdiction Association of Native American Ministries.

Wynn is married and has a son.

Bishop Henderson was beginning his second four-year term as leader of the church's Florida Annual Conference when he died Dec. 7 of cancer. He was 66.

The new bishop won't necessarily go to Florida, but may be assigned to any of the conferences in the jurisdiction.

United Methodist News Service is providing ongoing coverage of the session and the election at on the World Wide Web.
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