United Methodist Church Elects 4 Black Women Bishops

Photo by Ansley Brackin. Joy is evident as the Rev. Sharma Lewis, center, of the North Georgia Conference is elected a United Methodist bishop on the first ballot July 13 by the denomination’s Southeastern Jurisdiction. Lewis is the first African-American woman to elected bishop by that jurisdiction.
Photo by Ansley Brackin.
Joy is evident as the Rev. Sharma Lewis, center, of the North Georgia Conference is elected a United Methodist bishop on the first ballot July 13 by the denomination’s Southeastern Jurisdiction. Lewis is the first African-American woman to elected bishop by that jurisdiction.

Four African-American women were recently elected as bishops at quadrennial meetings of the United Methodist Church, further removing the glass ceiling for Black women in the denomination.

In a historic election, the Rev. Sharma Lewis was elected bishop by the Southeastern Jurisdiction on July 13, becoming the first African-American women to be elected as prelate in that jurisdiction.

“I was called by God and I made myself available, not just to a position, but to follow God’s will,” said the lifelong Methodist in a statement. “I am excited, and I am really humbled. At 52 years old, I am excited that my next phase of life will be as an episcopal leader. I am humbled to the fact that this is historic.”

A native of Statesboro, Ga., Lewis is a woman of several “firsts.” She was the first female senior pastor and first African-American pastor of Powers Ferry United Methodist Church. She was the first woman to serve as senior minister of Wesley Chapel UMC, and the first woman to serve as district superintendent in the Atlanta-Decatur-Oxford District, her current position.

Lewis came to the ministry after a long career as a biologist. With bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Mercer University and the University of West Georgia under her belt, she went on to study at Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, where she earned her master’s of divinity with honors. Since then she has served at various churches and in numerous capacities at the jurisdictional and general conferences.

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SOURCE: AFRO – Zenitha Prince Senior