ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (UMNS) – San Francisco area Bishop Warner Brown has begun his term as president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops.

Bishop Rosemarie Wenner of the Germany Episcopal Area has served as president of the Council since April 2012. Her two-year term ended at the close of the Council’s executive committee meeting on May 4. A formal celebration and the traditional “passing of the gavel” will take place at the Council of Bishops’ meeting in November 2014.

Bishop Robert E. Hayes, Jr., who has served three terms as the Councils’ secretary, was succeeded by Louisiana Area Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey.

Brown said his hope for the Council is that they can speak with one voice with words of encouragement to the church “in the many places where the church is doing good work, where growth is happening, where lives are being touched and lives are being saved … we have much to celebrate.

“We are a very diverse church with a lot of things to learn from each other about how we effectively can be the church and make disciples of Jesus Christ, transform the world and hear and see the needs of people,” said Brown. “In order to do that, we’ll need to talk with each other and be honest with each other and learn from each other. I hope I can facilitate that kind of conversation.”