The Rev. Dr. Debbie Wallace-Padgett of the Kentucky Annual (regional) Conference has been elected a bishop by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference of The United Methodist Church. She becomes the first woman elected to the episcopacy from the Kentucky Conference.
She becomes the fourth bishop elected in the 2012 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. Jurisdictional conferences are being held this week in five regions of the United States. Wallace-Padgett, who serves as Lead Pastor of St. Luke UMC in Lexington, KY, was elected on a ballot taken at 5:20 p.m. on July 18. She will fill one of the vacancies created in the denomination's jurisdictional College of Bishops by the retirement of five bishops.
Wallace-Padgett will become one of 13 active bishops serving the Episcopal areas of the 15 annual conferences that make up the Southeastern Jurisdiction.
Upon being elected Wallace-Padgett was congratulated by members of the Kentucky Conference delegation and then escorted to the stage by Bishop Lindsey Davis, resident bishop of the Kentucky Conference and Bishop James King, former bishop of the Kentucky Conference. Her husband, Rev. Lee Padgett and their children, Leanndra and Andrew, were in attendance and soon joined her on stage.
In her remarks to the body of the conference, Wallace-Padgett spoke of her hope for the future, stating that her "vision for this denomination is for renewal and my commitment is to do all I can to make that vision a greater and greater reality".
A consecration service for the new bishops will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, July 20 in Stuart Auditorium at Lake Junaluska.
An Episcopal assignment committee is considering where Wallace-Padgett and other active bishops will serve for the next four years. Their assignments will be effective Sept. 1.
Endorsed by the Kentucky Annual Conference, Wallace-Padgett was elected on the eleventh ballot, receiving 274 of the 434 votes cast. She is a former district superintendent and has a Doctorate of Ministry from Asbury Theological Seminary and Master’s degrees in Christian Education and divinity from Scarritt College and Lexington Theological Seminary, respectively.
She has served as a General Conference delegate from 2000 through 2012 and her previous service to The United Methodist Church includes the following.
Kentucky Annual Conference Leadership
• Episcopacy Committee Chair 4 years
• Board of Ordained Ministry - 14 years
• Dean of Cabinet - 2 years
• Primary Task Team - 6 years
• Vital Church Network Chair - 2 years
• Methodist Children’s Home Chair - 2 years
• Lexington District Committee on Ministry Chair - 7 years
• Children & Poverty Board - 2 years
• Education Chair - 4 years
• Summer Camp Dean - 3 years
Southeastern Jurisdiction Leadership
• Episcopacy Committee - 4 years
• Intentional Growth Center - 12 years, Chair - 2 years
• Clergy Women Consultation Steering Team - 1 year
General Church Leadership
• General Commission on Status and Role of Women - 8 years
• Executive Committee of the Interjurisdictional Committee on the Episcopacy - 4 years
• World Methodist Council
A United Methodist bishop in the United States is elected for life and, although eight years is the standard term for a bishop to serve in an Episcopal area, it is not unusual for a bishop to be assigned to one area for 12 years for “missional reasons.”
Bishops are charged by the church’s Book of Discipline to “lead and oversee the spiritual and temporal affairs” of the church and to “guard, transmit, teach and proclaim, corporately and individually, the apostolic faith as it is expressed in Scripture and tradition, and, as they are led and endowed by the Spirit, to interpret that faith evangelically and prophetically.”
A jurisdictional conference has the following power and duties:
• To promote the evangelistic, educational, missionary and benevolent interests of the church and to provide for interests and institutions within their boundaries.
• To elect bishops.
• To establish and constitute jurisdictional conference boards as auxiliaries to the general boards of the church.
• To determine the boundaries of annual conferences.
• To make rules and regulations for the administration of the church's work within the jurisdiction.
• To appoint a committee on appeals.
The United Methodist Church was created in 1968 by a merger of the Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist churches. Methodists elected their bishops at one national gathering until 1940, when the jurisdictional system was instituted. Bishops in the EUB church were elected at one national gathering until 1968.