Bishops serve in our church’s highest leadership role, providing spiritual and institutional guidance both within their Annual Conference and across the connection. Given bishops’ importance to the well-being and direction of the church, it seems important that a diversity of perspectives and experiences be represented among them.
Recently, United Methodists in the United States elected eleven (11) new bishops to fill episcopal seats vacated
by retirements. In the United States, the five jurisdictional conferences elect bishops every four years.
For the 2013-2016 quadrennium, there are 140 active and retired U.S. bishops. Out of the 46 active bishops,
11 are women (24%). Of the 11 women bishops, nine are white and two are Latina. No other U.S. racial-ethnic
group is represented among active women bishops. This will be the first quadrennium since 1984 that there
will be no black U.S. woman among the active United Methodist bishops. The denomination has yet to elect a
Native American or Pacific Islander—male or female—to the episcopacy.
By Craig This and Elaine Moy
The 2008 U.S. Jurisdictional Conferences elected
eight clergypersons (six men and two women)
to replace the seven retiring (and one resigning)
bishops (five men and three women). As a result,
the total number of active U.S. women bishops
dropped by one, from 15 in 2005-08 to 14 currently.