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Judicial Council elects first woman president

By Neill Caldwell*
May 1, 2008 | FORT WORTH, Texas (UMNS)

The Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe is the new president of the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church. She is the first woman to lead the denomination's "supreme court."

The 2008–2012 council met May 1 to elect officers and organize. The other new leaders are Jon R. Gray, vice president, and the Rev. Belton Joyner, secretary. The group will have an orientation meeting in July in Chicago and will convene in late October for its first official session.

Henry-Crowe, a clergy member of the South Carolina Annual (regional) Conference, has been dean of Cannon Chapel and Religious Life at Emory University since 1991. Elected in 1992 to her first eight-year term on the Judicial Council, she was elected to a second term in 2004.

When she was ordained in 1974, Henry-Crowe was only the second woman to serve as a full-time United Methodist pastor in South Carolina. She served as campus minister at Winthrop and Furman universities and later was director of the conference's council on ministries. In her post at Emory, she coordinates the work of more than two dozen religious groups. She also created the Journeys program, which takes groups of students and staff into areas torn by war and violence such as Bosnia, Palestine and Northern Ireland.

Gray returned to private law practice in Kansas City, Mo., last fall after 20 years as a family court judge.

Joyner, who with the other new members was elected to the council on April 28 by delegates to the 2008 General Conference, is a retired member of the North Carolina Conference now serving as an interim district superintendent.

Beth Capen of the New York Conference and the Rev. Dennis Blackwell of the Greater New Jersey Conference continue on the Judicial Council and will complete their current eight-year terms in 2012.

Angela Brown of California-Nevada, Ruben Reyes of the Philippines the Rev. Kathi Austin-Mahle of Minnesota and the Rev. Bill Lawrence of North Texas were elected on April 28 and complete the council's roster.

Reyes, a justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, flew to Fort Worth especially for the organizational meeting. He is only the second international United Methodist to be elected to the council. Fellow countryman Rodolfo Beltran was elected in 2000 and is retiring with this session of General Conference. The Rev. Shamwange P. Kyungu, of the Northwest Katanga Conference in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was elected as first alternate in 2004 and became a full member later that year when the Rev. Larry Pickens resigned.

Reyes will step down from his supreme court post in January and hopes to develop a nationwide campus ministry program in the Philippines. Brown is a district attorney in San Francisco. Austin-Mahle is retiring from a conference staff position in Minnesota this summer. Lawrence is the dean of the Perkins School of Theology in Dallas.

Newly elected members and those who are retiring were recognized before the General Conference during the May 1 morning plenary session. Outgoing council president Dr. James Holsinger thanked those who have served during the past four-year period and gave Judicial Council lapel pins to the new members.

*Caldwell is editor of the Virginia United Methodist Advocate and covers the Judicial Council for United Methodist News Service.

News media contact: Kathy Noble or Tim Tanton, e-mail: newsdesk@umcom.org.

Phone calls can be made to the General Conference Newsroom in Fort Worth, Texas, at (817) 698-4405 until May 3. Afterward, call United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn., at (615) 742-5470.

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