S.C.’s Bishop Holston elected as next secretary of UMC Council of Bishops

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Bishop L. Jonathan Holston of the South Carolina Conference was elected Nov. 3 as the next secretary of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church during the bishops’ online meeting via Zoom.

Bishop Thomas Bickerton, the residential bishop of the New York Conference of The United Methodist Church, was elected as the next COB president, Bishop Tracy Smith Malone of the East Ohio Conference was elected the COB’s next president-designate.

"It is very humbling to be asked to offer my leadership at this point in the church’s life and work,” Bickerton said after the election. “While the road ahead will no doubt present us with great challenges, I celebrate a faith which offers the firm assurance that God will provide us with the light we need to find the next step on the path.

“My prayer is that with grace and deep respect, we will continue to find ways to love one another as a response to God’s great love for us. I pledge to lead out of that same conviction and covet the prayers of the church as we embark on this journey together.”

Current officers are Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, president; Bickerton, president-designate; and Malone as secretary.

The new officers will take office at the end of the 2022 spring meeting of the COB.

Harvey will serve as the immediate past president of the COB.

As the COB began its virtual meeting Tuesday, Nov. 2, Harvey called her colleagues to a time of leading by the example of love.

“It’s time to face the reality that our Big Tent is having trouble holding up to the winds of change,” Harvey said.

The bishop said the denomination is in a waiting period that began last year and is now extended to at least 2022, when the postponed 2020 General Conference is scheduled to meet. During this time of waiting, she said, there is the “potential to shift our focus from the very people we are called to serve.”

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