Rev. David Anthony Gilmore

2022 Episcopal Candidate

The Reverend David Anthony Gilmore is an ordained elder of The United Methodist Church. Reverend Gilmore answered the call to ministry in 1998 where he began serving as Ministries Assistant at Bethany UMC, New Orleans, Louisiana.

In 2000, Reverend Gilmore was appointed to Swope Park UMC, Kansas City, MO. At the time of his appointment, the church reported a membership of 47. By the grace of God and under Reverend Gilmore’s spiritual guidance and able leadership, the church’s membership increased to 270 and included a music ministry that expanded to include five choirs and three praise groups.

In his next appointment at The ‘Historic’ Centennial UMC (2008 – 2016) the church received more than 300 new members, nurtured 5 candidates into the ministry; and planted an offsite campus with the purpose of engaging the community beyond the community.

From 2016 – 2020, Rev. Gilmore was appointed to the cabinet of the New York Conference as the Director of Congregational Development and Revitalization. In this role, he was responsible for planting new churches; identifying, recruiting, equipping, and empowering emerging leaders (clergy and laity); supporting and nurturing the creation of new ministries; offering one-on-one consultations with churches; and offering diagnoses and prescriptions for churches seeking to become vibrant. In his four years of serving, Rev. Gilmore facilitated the start/restart of ten (10) churches/initiatives.

In July 2020 Rev. Gilmore returned home to the Missouri Conference and is currently appointed to the cabinet as Superintendent of the Northwest District. In this role he serves as:

  • Chief missional strategist of the Northwest District.
  • Member of the appointive cabinet responsible for the appointments and assignments of ordained and licensed clergy, qualified and trained laypersons, and lay ministers or lay missioners.
  • Working with the district committee on ordained ministry, responsible for recruitment and examination of candidates for ordained or licensed ministry, and ongoing oversight of persons approved for licensing.
  • Establish working relationships with staff/pastor-parish relations committees, clergy, district lay leaders, and other lay leadership, to develop faithful and effective systems of ministry within the district.
  • In a supervisory capacity offer support, care and counsel to clergy concerning matters affecting their effective ministry.
  • In consultation with the bishop and cabinet, work to develop the best strategic deployment of clergy possible in the district, including realignment of pastoral charges (when needed) and the exploration of larger parishes, cooperative parishes, multiple staff configurations, new faith communities, and ecumenical shared communities.

Most recently, Rev. Gilmore has been asked to lead the Conference Black Church Strategy team, which is tasked with revitalizing 25 historic Black churches and planting a Black church by 2025.

Rev. Gilmore is a Lewis Center Community Leadership Fellow and the recipient of the 2009 Harry Denman Evangelism Award for the Missouri Conference.

More importantly, Rev. Gilmore is married to Kimiko Capri Black Gilmore (Kansas City, MO); the father of Kenneth (Jacksonville, FL), Victor (Dallas, TX), Latesha (Huntsville, AL), Lauryn (Brooklyn, NY), Moneshia (Kansas City, MO); and the grandfather of two precious grandchildren (Charitye Rose & Denise Alexis).

1. Why are you willing to be considered for the episcopacy?

I am offering myself for the episcopacy because of the ‘nudging’ of the Spirit; affirmation of trusted ‘voices;’ and the gifts and graces with which I’ve been blessed. In my opinion, our denomination is a crucial crossroads in discerning and determining whether we will live into God’s purpose. We are constantly hearing the warning that we need ‘strategic thinkers,’ and I support this warning. However, I also believe we are at a place where we need ‘strategic doers’…of which I have a proven track record. We need people who appreciate and foster collaboration between groups that may not share the same social values, but believe Christ is Lord and we are here to ‘make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.’ Up to this point, my life and service in the church has prepared me to use my gifts to inspire, motivate and unite our church for the challenges of ‘today’ and hope for ‘tomorrow.’ John Wesley reminds us to ‘Do no harm…do good…[and] stay in love with God.’ It seems we, as a denomination, have been leaning towards causing more ‘harm’ than ‘good’ with our words and attitudes and I believe God has prepared me for this seminal moment in the life of our Church to serve as a conduit for doing more ‘good’ than ‘harm.’

2. How should the United Methodist Church go forward into the future? What are the most critical issues? How would you respond as a bishop of the church to these issues?

The United Methodist Church needs to return to our spiritual roots. Yes, we should focus on spreading scriptural and social holiness, but focus on the ‘holy’ believing our dedication to pleasing God will feed the church in addressing societal ills and divisiveness. Our denomination, like many others, has become defined by our infighting and ‘sides,’ which has led me and others to liken our church to a tree. When looking at a tree, one can tell the overall health of the tree by the condition of the ‘leaves. If the ‘leaves’ are yellowing or brown, it is safe to assume the ‘roots’ may not be receiving enough water or nutrients. However, when the ‘roots’ are fed correctly, the ‘leaves’ will be green. Applying this agrarian approach to our church, I believe our most critical issue is our focus on the ‘leaves’ rather than the ‘roots.’ We have been a ‘cause-driven’ denomination (racism, ageism, gender inequality, human sexuality, etc.) whose focus has been diverted from ensuring we are connected to Jesus, the ‘living water.’ As a bishop, I would respond by using my gifts and graces ensuring that our cause(s) are rooted in Christ instead of trying to root Christ in our cause(s). Lastly, and possibly more important, if we truly believe ‘the world is our parish’ we MUST move forward determined to be more inclusive. As a bishop, I would work with conference and local church leaders to address racism and human sexuality; provide space for holy conversations about the future of our denomination; focus on learning and sharing best practices for planting new churches and revitalizing existing churches; addressing and providing safe spaces for focusing on the mental health and well-being of our clergy; and, lastly, seeking out new ‘fishing holes’ for the recruitment of a new generation of leaders.


3. Where do you see God at work on the margins of the world? How would you embrace and encourage new, emerging forms of the church among new people? 

Within many of those the world has marginalized, there remains a very real hunger for the Good News. The issue is not that there is a lack of hunger, but rather the church has failed in feeding that hunger. My time as the Director of Congregational Development & Revitalization in the New York Annual Conference taught me that the most effective new expressions of church and/or ministry must be an ‘outside-in’ rather than ‘inside-out’ approach. In other words, there must be an authentic relationship created/fostered with the community we hope to engage, first. In this relationship the church/ministry planters, along with their team, what iteration of ‘church’ will be most impactful in their community. As a bishop, I would encourage continuing this kind of attitude and practice in the conference to which I was assigned. Additionally, if we are going to engage new and emerging groups of people, we MUST improve our digital/virtual presence! While people in my generation may loathe the idea of a ‘pajama church’, the truth is that there are more and more people who desire to worship from home or work and, if we are going to engage that growing demographic, we must begin to not only upgrade the digital technologies in our local churches, but also refrain from ‘othering’ those who are not worshiping in person.

4. How would you lead the church in reaching its mission field across divisions of age, economics, ethnicity, and culture? Share how you have done this in your current ministry setting? 

Continuing and building upon my thought from Question #4, what is most imperative is the creation of trusted and authentic relationships in and with the people of the mission field. I would encourage my church leaders, clergy, and laity, to listen first in every possible area OUTSIDE the walls of the church building to the community. For example, joining Homeowner Associations, Neighborhood Associations, etc. I also believe it is imperative that the community ‘listeners’/change agents ‘mirror’ the community. For example, while I try to be empathetic and attentive, I am not a young adult…do not possess young adult thoughts/attitudes…and do not fully grasp the language of a young adult. Thus, it seems logical to recruit/nurture young adults who will partner with me to authentically engage with young adults. In my current ministry setting as a district superintendent, which includes Kansas City, Missouri, we have a mission field in midtown Kansas City that has an estimated 15,000 young adults of every hue and walk of life within a 4-mile radius of one of our church buildings. The pastor who was serving this church is a retired elder in his 80’s. I recruited a 40-year-old Hispanic elder, who is happily married to an African American woman, to serve this congregation. His energy and ‘look’ have already begun to provide avenues of opportunity for authentic engagement with a demographic that had not been previously met.

5. What risks have you taken in ministry? How do you leverage what you learn from failure and success?

I have learned from trusted elders and the experiences of ‘trial and error’ to listen, discern, and learn when taking risks in ministry. I ‘listen,’ with head and heart, for the voice of God in the people outside and inside the church. As I am ‘listening,’ I seek discernment from the Spirit that we have been called to serve in a ministry initiative. This discernment is usually a little disconcerting because invariably I/we are being called to move beyond what makes us comfortable. And hopefully, I learn not just what did and did not work; but, also to adjust while we are in the midst of ministering to and with the community. Some have referred to this as ‘building the plane while flying the plane.’ When I served as a local pastor, my DS and I took a ride through a part of town that was economically and socially depressed. While driving, I felt a ‘voice’ calling me to ‘do something for God’s people’! I brought our church leadership to the area asking them to just ‘listen.’ We pulled into an empty parking lot and, when I asked what had been ‘heard,’ tears began to flow and our church leadership said, ‘we have to do something for the people’! We took on a building in an area of town that was devoid of a Wesleyan presence and have used this site to host a literacy program for disadvantaged children; host both an African and Hispanic faith communities; and host community forums. As a Director in the New York Annual Conference, I ‘listened’ to the people who were not engaged in the life of any church, and the message I kept receiving was that the church was disconnected from the community. So, I recruited clergy and planted churches designed to engage the community surrounding the sites, rather than the communities that dominate our denomination. Thusly, I recruited younger Korean, African, African American, Chinese, and Anglo clergy to plant/nurture churches along the theological spectrum (i.e., conservative Chinese and African, centrist African American and Anglo, liberal Korean, and Anglo) in an attempt to engage as many of the people possible in and around the mission field. As a district superintendent I believe that leaders who either have borne or have the potential to bear ‘good fruit’ need to be given opportunities to do so. My idea of ‘success’ is simple: did we ‘make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world’? And, that is how I leverage and employ lessons to be learned. Conversely, I consider ‘failure’ to be two-fold: 1) the opposite of my definition of ‘success’; and 2) refusing to try! When it comes to ‘making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,’ there is NOTHING too far-fetched in the realm of ministry initiatives…NOTHING!

6. What types of strategies would you emphasize to accomplish the mission of the church in two areas: To strengthen annual conferences? To increase the number of healthy, vital congregations effectively making disciples of Jesus Christ??

Strategies to strengthen annual conferences:

  • Listening sessions to give ‘voice’ to those who have historically been silenced and/or ignored.
  • Ensuring there is diversity around the cabinet table, conference and district staffs, and conference/district leadership teams.
  • Transparency, without breaking sacred trusts, in how we conduct the ‘business’ of the annual conference; including, but not limited to: administrative reporting, election of officers, etc.
  • Fostering a collaborative spirit among the different ministry teams always focused on the vision/mission of the annual conference.

Strategies to increase the number of healthy, vital congregations:

  • Presenting and promoting evangelistic opportunities to existing congregations, such as Fresh Expressions (US) and Fresh Expressions (UK)
  • Encouraging/supporting new ministry initiatives designed to change the present ‘culture’ of stagnant faith communities. (i.e., Creating a Culture of Renewal, etc.)
  • Lovingly closing churches that are no longer vital and have been assessed as having no potential for growth.

7. One of the greatest struggles in appointment making is access to sufficient numbers of effective clergy. How would you work to recruit new, effective clergy? How would you address the issue of ineffective clergy?

I believe the recruitment of new and effective clergy should begin in three areas: seminary, other denominations, and second-career or bi-vocational ministers. It has been my experience that traveling to seminaries provides the best opportunities for recruiting younger and hungrier clergy IF the recruiter has strategic appointments in hand along with the permission to present these appointments to the seminarians. Additionally, many of the seminarians I recruited came onboard, not so much for salary (although salary does matter greatly); but, more because relevancy and purpose mattered most to the younger adults. My next ‘pool’ for recruiting new and effective clergy came from other denominations. One of our greatest ‘hooks’ for attracting these clergy are our benefits packages, because many of the clergy in other denominations (especially congregational denominations) offer little to nothing towards the healthcare and retirement of their clergy. Lastly, I would choose to ‘fish’ in the second career and bi-vocational ‘pools.’ Many of the clergy I’ve recruited from these ‘pools’ have encountered many life experiences that have prepared them for the challenges of pastoral ministry. These ‘saints’ ‘bear good fruit’ as leaders, because they acknowledge, respect, and are not taken aback by the fact that the people in the pews are people…a microcosm of life. And, this microcosm of life has people representing every aspect of humanity which their life experiences have prepared them to engage. I also believe this last group is the future of our denomination. One day, not too long from now, we will come to a place where elders are the minority and local licensed pastors are the change agents in our communities. With regards to addressing ineffective clergy, I believe one of our greatest denominational ‘millstones’ are guaranteed appointments for elders. A less-than-casual observation made in the past 8 years is that some of our colleagues have become complacent/entitled knowing they will have a full-time appointment and many of our annual conferences are ordaining ‘chaplains’ and not ‘change agents’. For those who have grown complacent/entitled and are not bearing ‘good fruit,’ I would work with the Board of Ordained Ministry and cabinet to establish an exiting pathway that offers a detailed strategy of 1) coaching 2) counseling 3) gradually movement towards less impactful (read ‘strategic’) appointments 4) surrendering of credentials.

8. What is your philosophy of appointment making?

My philosophy of appointment making is to place the most effective leaders in the most strategically important appointments. I place clergy into one of three categories: 1) growers 2) maintainers 3) hospice chaplains. Those clergy who have a proven track record of impactful leadership, with observable and/or measurable results, would be considered for what the cabinet had identified as the most strategic appointments. Those clergy who have not necessarily grown a church but have not hurt the churches they have served would be considered for appointments where the church is more self-determining or where there has been a slight decline. Churches that are in serious decline and have no desire to do the work necessary to regain vitality would be served by the ‘hospice chaplain’ who would assist the faith community to become a legacy blessing the births of newer faith communities. I feel it important to note that ‘growers’ and ‘maintainers’ would be afforded the opportunity for coaching to assist them in their growing in leadership. Lastly, I believe that, while the bishop sets and fixes appointments, the process itself MUST b

9. Describe how you work in partnership with the laity in the planning and execution of ministry. How would the laity you work with describe your work in this partnership?

As equal partners in ministry collaborating with each other to live into the vision God has placed on that faith community and other faith communities, within the connection and ecumenically. While serving as Director of Congregational Development & Revitalization in the New York Annual Conference, I worked with a lay person and co-authored Laity Excellence Group (LEG) curriculum designed to equip and empower laity to take on greater responsibility in Kin-dom building through missional initiatives and the creation of accountability groups. I believe the majority of the laity with whom I’ve worked wou

10. Describe your understanding of the inclusive nature of the church. In what ways have you lived up to and fallen short of that understanding?

The church should model the biblical examples the Kin-dom of Heaven. This means that there is a place for everyone, but it is God and not humanity that determines entry. Additionally, there is a Divine invitation to everyone to enter in and join in at the feast, but acceptance cannot be coerced, and God’s grace covers us until we acknowledge and accept God’s love. COVID; divisiveness in society and the church; hate-filled speech and acts against non-majority groups; and a refusal to listen have led to the reinforcement of an ‘us’ versus ‘them,’ rather than an ‘us and them’ mentality that has been instrumental in ‘othering’ others. This marginalization has ostracized and alienated at least two generations of people who no longer see the church as an ‘anchor’ in the community and their lives. My vision for the future of the church brings the church back into the conversation and consciousness of a people who are, in many instances, bereft of hope and seeking relevance. Leaning on John 21: 15-17 for my foundation, my vision can be summed up in the following diagram which was initially developed in 2012:

Please note this diagram does not place specific “tags” on the ‘least, last & lost.” This model for renewal is a vision intended to engage ALL of God’s people!


11. What do you feel has been the most significant contribution or difference you have made toward fulfilling our mission as a church in the local churches you have served? In your annual conference? At the general church level?

In EVERY ministry setting in which I’ve been planted, I have bloomed and borne fruit. Whether it was growing a church averaging 15 in worship (on a ‘good’ Sunday) to 180; or 115 in worship to 300+; or planting 10 new churches in the New York Annual Conference in 4 years; or strategically closing historic churches within the district in order to plant a Hispanic and African faith communities which are thriving, I use God’s gifts and graces within me (passionate preaching, desire for collaborative relationships, visionary ‘out-of-the-box’ ministries, ‘bridge builder’) to focus on ‘making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world’.


12. John Wesley is often quoted as saying “in essentials, unity, in non-essentials, diversity, in all things charity.” What constitutes the essentials for you?”

While some have sounded a ‘death knell’ on the church, I believe that God is about to do something amazing and new. I envision a church that will become smaller, but more adept (read: “nimble”) at engaging communities beyond their faith community. I envision a church that will become better at ‘listening’ first to the hurts, fears, joys, and needs of their community before ‘speaking’ a solution that is based on information/observations that are decades old. I envision a church that will become more missional in nature, collaborating with UM and non-UM agencies, more as a “partner” than “leader,” in meeting the needs of their communities. And, I envision a church that will focus more on the ‘holiness’ associated with scriptural and social holiness, remembering that change begins within first. In my humble opinion, our beloved United Methodist Church has become so ‘cause’-driven we have lost sight of what really matters. Using the imagery of a tree, we are so focused on the ‘leaves,’ we have forgotten to make sure our ‘roots’ are being fed. And, what we are missing is that if we focus on ensuring our ‘roots’ are connected to something good and holy, our ‘leaves’ will be green and healthy. In a nutshell, I envision a church that wraps our causes (racism, ageism, gender inequality, LGBTQIA+ rights, etc.) in Jesus, the ‘living water,’ rather than attempting to wrap Jesus around our causes.

13. How would being elected and assigned impact your family? What challenges might it present and how will these be addressed? Are there health, financial, or other issues that could possibly affect your ability to serve as a bishop?

I would be eligible and willing to serve two quadrennial terms.

14. Under the current rules, how many quadrennial terms would you be eligible to serve?

I would be eligible to serve until 2032—this partial term, plus two full ones.

15. How do you understand your obligation as a bishop to uphold the Book of Discipline?

According to Section IV ¶414 in the Book of Discipline (2016), a bishop is responsible for spiritual and temporal leadership of the Church. Specifically:

  • To lead and oversee the spiritual and temporal affairs of The United Methodist Church which confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and particularly to lead the Church in its witness and service in the world. (¶414.1)
  • To teach and uphold the theological traditions of The United Methodist Church. (¶414.5)
  • To discharge such other duties as the Discipline may direct. (¶414.9)

Leaning into ¶401 in the Book of Discipline (2016), in order to fulfill the obligation of ‘enabling the gathered Church to worship and to evangelize faithfully,’ I believe one of a bishop’s primary functions is to instill hope. People will engage in seemingly impossible visions/missions/ministries if a leader is able to instill the hope that what they are being called to do will be pleasing God and be a blessing to others. I believe a transformational bishop should possess the ability to:

  • infuse people with a vital and renewing spirit
  • instill a desire, among the people, to learn and teach the life-changing love of Christ for ALL of God’s people\
  • offer a prophetic Word intended to transform our Church and our world
  • model what ‘unity’ looks like in our denomination

16. If you could change any section or provision in the Book of Discipline, what would you change?

I have already mentioned my hope that we will change the disciplinary sections on same-gender weddings and LGBTQ clergy. Beyond that, I hope for a revision of our
Discipline that lightens our structure and makes our common rule less confusing and cumbersome. I hope we can move toward a flexible system that allows for contextual ministry, maintaining the core of our identity and enlivening a connectional system that runs more horizontally than vertically.

17. When is the last time you led an individual to a profession of faith? Tell us about it.

The last time I am aware of leading an individual to a profession of faith was as a local pastor in 2016. This was, in fact, the last sermon I preached as the appointed pastor of The ‘Historic’ Centennial United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Missouri. The theme of the sermon was on ‘Memories’ and was based on 2 Timothy 4: 6 – 8, 16 – 18. When the invitation to Christian discipleship was offered a young lady came forward on profession of faith as a candidate for baptism. In truth, I cannot remember every individual who I led to a profession of faith. Not because I’m being immodest, but rather because I fervently lean into the promise of Isaiah 55:11 “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” I try to convey in my preaching and in my living the ‘believability’ of the Gospel and, thus cannot know how many lives have been changed…how many hearts have been warmed…how many eyes have been opened to see and believe that Jesus is Lord.