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Bishops pass the gavel in their April 2022 meeting

New Council of Bishops President Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton receives the gavel from outgoing President Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey during the spring meeting, Friday, April 29, 2022. (Photo courtesy of the COB.)
New Council of Bishops President Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton receives the gavel from outgoing President Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey during the spring meeting, Friday, April 29, 2022. (Photo courtesy of the COB.)
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The bishops of The United Methodist Church completed their Spring meeting today in a spirit of collegiality and love for one another and the worldwide denomination.

In a moving time of worship, the bishops celebrated the leadership of the Council with the passing of the gavel as New York Area Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton assumed the mantle as the new president of the Council of Bishops (COB) of the UMC.

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In his address, Bishop Bickerton called on the United Methodists to commit to “spending most of our time positioning our church for the next chapter of our life together: talking about the movement of the spirit in our midst, the exciting days that lie ahead, and the joy we will have being able to live out our calling to preach the Good News of God’s love rather than the bad news of what’s happening to us in the current moment.”

“This is our church – let us claim it, guard it, preserve it, and use it to bless generations for years to come just as we were blessed by those who came before us.”

Referring to the launch of the Global Methodist Church on May 1, Bishop Bickerton called for the re-launch of the UMC.   “In the midst of the heartache of separation, let us launch and proclaim once again a unity of purpose and ministry together. In the midst of legal documents and term sheets, let us launch and affirm the reality that United Methodists are bible-based, faith-driven, mission focused, and global in scope,” Bishop Bickerton said.

He urged United Methodists to be hopeful: “Let’s get out of the boat of our malaise, the boat of our current dilemma, and let us walk, no, run on the water keeping our eyes focused on the only one who can calm our anxious spirits, focus our blurry eyes, and point us in the direction that will lead to us once again to strength, relevancy, and joy.”

Addressing the issue of separation, the bishops acknowledged tension that exist with the leaders of  Wesleyan Covenant Association remaining in the UMC.  In a motion that was passed, the bishops urged the WCA leaders to clarify their intent to remain in the UMC or depart for the GMC.

The bishops then shared the work of their leadership teams and finally the highlight of the day: the passing of the gavel and welcoming of new officers. Bishop Bickerton, who has served as president-designate, becomes president while Bishop Tracy Smith Malone of East Ohio Conference is the new president-designate and Bishop L. Jonathan Holston of South Carolina Conference is the new COB secretary.

Bishop Bruce Ough and Bishop Sally Dyck will continue in their roles as COB Executive Secretary and COB Ecumenical Officer, respectively. 

excerpt from a press release by Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga, Director of Communications, Council of Bishops

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