North Central Jurisdiction elects one bishop

A Special Report
By United Methodist News Service

United Methodists in the United States elected and assigned eight new bishops and re-assigned the rest during jurisdictional meetings held in five regions last week.

It was an often-intense week as delegates worked to fill leadership vacancies created by seven retirements, one resignation and a death. Bishops are the top clergy leaders of the denomination, and the 50 or so U.S. bishops oversee some 7.9 million of the church's 11.5 million members worldwide.

The United Methodist Southeastern Jurisdiction wasted no time, taking its first ballot on opening day, July 16, and announcing the first elected bishop of the 2008 group - Paul Leeland - the next morning. The Northeastern Jurisdiction, which began meeting two days earlier than the other jurisdictions, also took its first ballot July 16 and finished choosing a bishop the next day.

The process took longer elsewhere. The North Central Jurisdiction, meeting in Grand Rapids, Mich., experienced slow going, but managed to complete its work July 18.The Western Jurisdiction, which had two bishops to elect, went into the wee hours of the morning July 19 before completing its selections. The South Central Jurisdiction started quickly, electing the first of three bishops on the third ballot before noon on July 17, and then worked until late in the evening July 18 to elect the third.

The newly elected bishops expressed feelings of humility and gratitude, and also shared glimpses of their personal visions.

In addition to choosing and assigning bishops, delegates in the jurisdictions acted on other items. In the North Central Jurisdiction, delegates gave permission July 18 to the North Indiana and South Indiana annual conferences to unite into one new Indiana Conference. Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner has called both conferences to attend a special session Oct. 4 to finalize details.

The jurisdictional gatherings are held every four years. Bishops for the church in Africa, Europe and Asia are elected at other times in central conference gatherings.

Of the eight new bishops elected, two are women and six are men. One is Asian American, two are African American and five are white. All bishops' new assignments took effect Sept. 1.

United Methodists in the North Central Jurisdiction elected Julius Calvin Trimble as a new bishop. Bishop Trimble was assigned to the denomination's Iowa Area for the next four years.

Trimble was elected to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Bishop Sharon Brown Christopher. Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, president of the Council of Bishops, will move to the Illinois Area, where Christopher was leading the church's Illinois Great Rivers Conference. Palmer has been serving the Iowa Area (Iowa Conference).

The North Central College of Bishops requested that Bishop Bruce R. Ough remain in the Ohio West Area (West Ohio Conference), where he has already served two terms.

The seven other active North Central bishops are being reassigned for second terms in their areas:

  • Bishop Michael J. Coyner, Indiana Area (North and South Indiana),
  • Bishop Sally Dyck, Minnesota Area (Minnesota),
  • Bishop John L. Hopkins, Ohio East Area (East Ohio),
  • Bishop Hee-Soo Jung, Chicago Area (Northern Illinois),
  • Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton, Michigan Area (Detroit and West Michigan),
  • Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey, Dakota Area (Dakotas), and
  • Bishop Linda Lee, Wisconsin Area (Wisconsin).