Bishop L. Jonathan Holston will stay on as South Carolina resident bishop until late 2022.
That’s the word from The United Methodist Church’s Council of Bishops, which approved episcopal supervision recommendations for the Southeastern Jurisdiction May 14. The recommendations were made by the SEJ College of Bishops following consultation with the SEJ Committee on Episcopacy.
Holston will remain as resident bishop of the South Carolina Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church through the current quadrennium, which has been extended at least through late 2022 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two South Carolina representatives on the SEJ Committee on Episcopacy—Conference Lay Leader Barbara Ware and the Rev. Dr. Tim McClendon, pastor of St. John’s UMC in Aiken—expressed their excitement at the continuation of Bishop Holston’s assignment, saying it “affirms his vital, focused ministry in South Carolina.”
Holston said he is eager to continue walking alongside the laity and clergy of the South Carolina Conference.
“Felecia and I look forward to building on the strong lay-clergy partnership that has developed here in our first nine years in South Carolina,” Holston said. “We are pleased to take the next faithful steps with all of you as we seek a more excellent way in all avenues of ministry and mission.”
Holston was assigned as resident bishop of the South Carolina Conference after his first-ballot election as bishop at the 2012 SEJ Conference. He was reassigned for a second quadrennium in 2016.
Four SEJ bishops to retire
Instead of electing four new bishops in the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church as four retire, a number of conferences will now share supervision.
Bishops Lawson Bryan (South Georgia Conference), Hope Morgan Ward (North Carolina Conference), Paul Leeland (Western North Carolina Conference) and Mary Virginia “Dindy” Taylor (Holston Conference) have requested retirement effective Sept. 1, 2021.
Given this, the United Methodist Council of Bishops has approved episcopal supervision recommendations for the SEJ. These recommendations were made by the SEJ College of Bishops following consultation with the Jurisdictional and respective Annual Conference Committees on Episcopacy.
Approved episcopal supervision changes are as follows:
Bishop Ken Carter will now serve as resident bishop of his current Florida Conference, as well as the Western North Carolina Conference;
Bishop Leonard Fairley will now serve as resident bishop of his current Kentucky Conference, as well as the North Carolina Conference;
Bishop Debbie Wallace-Padgett will now serve as resident bishop of her current North Alabama Conference, as well as the Holston Conference; and
Bishop David Graves will now serve as resident bishop of his current Alabama-West Florida Conference, as well as the South Georgia Conference.
These decisions came “after much prayer and discernment,” according to a COB press release issued May 14.
Under Para. 407 of the Book of Discipline, the COB has authority to fill a vacancy for presidential/episcopal supervision of an episcopal area because of death, retirement (Para. 408.1-3), resignation (Para. 408.4), judicial procedure (Para. 2712), leave of absence (Para. 410.1), or medical leave (Para. 410.4).
The new roles are effective Sept. 1 and will continue until new bishops are elected in the SEJ.