Reverend Delores ‘Dee’ J. Williamston

2022 Episcopal Candidate


  • Topeka High School 1979-1981 – General Education Diploma | October 1982 | Topeka, Ks
  • Bachelors of Science | December 1, 2000 | Manhattan Christian College, Manhattan, Ks Management and Christian Ethics
  • Masters of Divinity | May 18, 2007 | Saint Paul School of Theology | Kansas City, Mo. | Specialization: Evangelism and Black Church Studies
  • Doctor of Ministry in progress, January 2019 | Phillip’s Theological Seminary, Tulsa, Ok | Transformational Leadership in Intercultural Community


  • Assistant to the Bishop / Director of Clergy Excellence – Topeka Ks, – July 1, 2021, to present.
  • District Superintendent, Salina – Hutchinson – July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2021
  • District Superintendent, Salina-Hays District – July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2020
  • District Superintendent, Salina District – July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2017
  • Senior Pastor (FE), Independence First UMC – July 1, 2010 – June 30, 2014
  • Senior Pastor (PE), Mentor and Quayle UMC- July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2010
  • Senior Pastor (PE), Mentor UMC, Mentor Ks, – July 1, 2007 – June 30, 2009
  • Associate Pastor (Part-time Local Pastor) – Highland Park UMC, Topeka Ks, – October 2002 – June 30, 2007


Previous Military Career & Awards and Training:

  • Retired Sargent First Class 1982-2004 served in Kansas and New York Army National Guard.
  • Interim First Sargent in the absence of the First Sargent and Platoon Sargent duties. (2000-2003)
  • Chief Supervisor of Accounting & Finance Operations U.S. Property and Fiscal Office – Topeka, Ks (2000-2003)
  • Award of Excellence – Government Accounting -National Guard Bureau, Washington DC. 2001, 2002, 2003
  • Military Pay & Accountant – U.S. Property and Fiscal Office – Topeka, Ks (1987-2000)
  • Award – Soldier of the Quarter 1985: 42nd Rainbow Division Finance Company in New York City, NY.
  • Army Basic, Advance Initial Training, Primary Leadership Development, Battle Skills, Basic & Advanced
  • Non-Commissioned Officer Courses,

Leadership Positions & Community Leadership:

  • Great Plains Conference boards and committees 2014 to present
    Chair – Community Remembrance Project (CRP) The Dana Adams Project 1893 with EJI – June 2020 to present.
  • Delegate to General Conference 2020 to present.
  • Conference Connecting Council 2014 to present.
  • Conference Board of Ordained Ministry 2012 to present,
  • Board of Trustees Kansas Wesleyan University 2014 to 2021.
  • Member Salina Health Education Foundation / Chair of Religious Affairs – NAACP Salina Kansas. 2017-2021.
  • Delegate 2018 Christian Communities Together Ecumenical Concerns. (COB)
  • Kansas East Conference Diversity Task Force 2010-2013
  • Conference Episcopacy Committee 2012-2013. / Chair of Parsons District Committee on Ordained Ministry 2012-2014.
  • Organizer Parsons District Clergy Women 2012-2014.Chair 2013 Martin Luther King Jr Celebration Independence, Ks
  • Chair 2012 Community Thanksgiving Dinner Independence, Ks.

Family Information:

  • Divorced. – One son and daughter-in-law. Seven grandchildren. Mother and host of family in Topeka, Ozawkie, Oskaloosa, Atchison, Lawrence Kansas, Kansas City Mo, Illinois and Virginia. 1 pet dog shin tzu.

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

I am willing to be considered for the episcopacy because I believe God is calling me to as a unique witness to God’s saving grace and that God can use my unique life experiences to help the larger Church to witness to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Ever since my call to ministry in the United Methodist Church in 2002, God has given me various opportunities to use my gifts and graces in leadership as a local church pastor, a district superintendent (2014-2021), and now the current Assistant to the Bishop of the Great Plains Conference and Director of Clergy Excellence July1, 2021. Humbly I continue to receive affirmation and encouragement from family, friends, co-workers, the annual conference, delegation, and colleagues who have witnessed and experienced my leadership in the conference and larger church and community. I am optimistic and encouraged as I challenge myself to step up by the power of the Holy Spirit to offer myself to the ministry of the episcopacy.
In this three-year season waiting for this opportunity and of spiritual discernment and reflecting in this time in the life of The United Methodist Church, I believe the UMC on the horizon will need a resilient leader who will persevere as the Church marches forward. I am a resilient leader and know what it means to persevere in life. I also believe the Church will need a leader, who will take risks and step forward courageously to lead the Church into a diverse multi-cultured mission field and commit to:

  • Convey the transformational power of the Holy Spirit by focusing on a compelling vision of revival for the potential future of the Church to reach all people.
  • Inspire the general church, annual conference, laity, and clergy, to strategically focus on revival, evangelism, and faith sharing as the Church moves forward to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
  • Influence the general church, conference, district, churches, laity, and clergy, in reclaiming the power of Pentecost in the mission field.
  • Provide intentional leadership of seeing the intersectionality of life in a diverse and multi-cultural mission field. And identifying the need for more conversations and action around cultural competencies, meaning filled conversations, and including the voices of the missing generations of youth and young adults and various populations of people.
  • Make wise/informed decisions from a heart of grace and peace using practical knowledge in the care and love of the people, the mission context, and the community of faith, mindful that there is always room to grow and learn.
  • Visioning with innovation to build creative entrepreneurial opportunities and collaborative relationships between church, society, and global mission to engage in discipleship making.
  • Lead with the boldness and gumption and the conviction of the Holy Spirit to inspire the Church, the annual conference, laity, and clergy, and to take risks in mission and ministry.

I humbly believe that I am equipped with the capacity and grit for this journey, and I have demonstrated in ministry my willingness, resilience, perseverance, ability to lead, create, discern, inspire, encourage and campion the mission of the Church forward and for the Church be the Church.

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?

There are multiple opportunities for the Church to navigate to go forward towards the future, such as:

  • Directing our focus on our unique movement origins to strengthen the potential to reach new people, diverse people in life and society to make disciples of Jesus Christ to transform the world.
  • Refocusing the energy of the Church on revival, evangelism, and faith sharing through intentional equipping or re-equipping of laity and clergy.
  • Casting a compelling vision that is also informed with unusual and unacknowledged voices from a broad spectrum of people, socially, economically, ethnically, and culturally.
  • In faith and trust that the power of the Holy Spirit will transform the Church and touch the lives of all people. The Church can model the words of Howard Thurman who says it best as we seek to engage the poor, disinherited, and dispossessed and what the gospel says to those who stand with their backs against the wall.

There are obvious critical issues that are facing the United Methodist today such as:

  • The current climate of disaffiliations in the UM denomination. There are annual conferences in the connection that are struggling with the process and the information circulating in various places. This has created more anxiety in the Church as the flood of information is not always clear about disaffiliation and paragraph 2553. And yet, there are some annual conferences in the connection who developed in 2019 a conference process based on paragraph 2553 and have had less contention in the annual conference in the disaffiliation process. Regardless, of the process there is heartfelt sorrow, but in Christ there is still hope that ministry will happen in the mission field to go make disciples of Jesus Christ.
  • Covid-19 is another critical issue. Covid-19 is still at the heart of how we do church in a world still affected by Covid-19. Covid-19 has changed the landscape not only of the church but the global world. Covid has affected how we meet as a connection broadly and locally. Covid 19 has redefined how we connect with our own families, how we travel, learn, and meet with our sisters and brothers in other places around the world.
  • Covid-19 has revealed that access to internet or technology and extreme differences of time zones affects our gathering together. And in some places in the world safety is a major concern. Another issue reveals how or where does the Church step in on issues of visitor VISAs for those who coming to the United States as possible covid quarantines add days for the persons say. Overall, Covid-19 has shoved the Church and world forward at an accelerated pace.

And there are continued critical issues for The United Methodist Church as matters of race, human sexuality, class, gender equality, environmental concerns and continue in the nation and in the Church. These are deeply troubling matters with no easy answers on how to eradicate, and their weight continues to saddle the Church with deep conflict. Legislation alone does not fix or alleviate these critical matters. Yet, the Church is poised at this critical juncture in time to hold fearless dialogue that is open, honest, to begin the process of moving towards a more beloved community. Without space for these conversations, critical issues will continue to impair the Church’s mission on the horizon.

Concerning these issues, as a bishop, I would respond with hope for fearless and intentional dialogue in the Church, annual conference, and broader community, in hopes that people will build relationships and see and experience each person’s humanity. And see we are all made in the image of God. I would respond by influencing ways that seek to dismantle systems that support discriminatory practices with an immediate heart of grace, peace and compassion as Christ as responded to us in giving up his life. I would respond by being curious and asking questions and doing the reconnaissance work to become fully informed to lead the Church. I would respond with the belief that God will lead us forward in the faith and hope of Jesus Christ. I would respond with the expectation that the transformative power of the Holy Spirit will lead us to better understanding of our neighbor and the mission field we are called to as disciples of Jesus Christ.

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

When I think about seeing God at work in the margins of the world, I think of the stories in the gospels where Jesus continually walked in marginal places in the community. On the margins, Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman, the Canaanite woman, the lepers, the woman with the issue of blood, and Lazarus in the tomb, to name a few. Jesus often walked where the least, the last and the lost were placed, while confronting the rich and powerful.
Through God’s disciples, I see God at work in the margins of the world in the roughest urban neighborhoods and the rural, isolated, unincorporated towns. I see God at work in the margins when non-government organizations (NGO) and not-for-profit initiatives tackle concerns of humanity by digging wells, providing health initiatives, and dealing with deadly but preventable diseases. I see God at work in the margins with the AIDS epidemic, polio eradication, and stopping the use of extraordinarily addictive and dangerous drugs. I see God at work in the margins in the concerns of health care for the working poor, veterans’ health, treatment of the elderly, and advocacy for a living wage and the concern for pay day and title loans and food deserts. I see God at work in the margins, reading to children in schools and shelters, and addressing the needs of food deserts and access for the elderly. I see God at work in the margins working in collaborative ways in many cities and small towns to make a difference.
As a bishop, I would embrace and encourage new emerging forms of church to engage new people by doing the following:

  • Intentionally being a catalyst for revival, evangelism, and faith sharing in the annual conference and the larger Church.
  • Embracing the power of technology and social media or the ‘metaverse’ to encourage new forms of ecclesiology for those whose home has become their house of worship.
  • Initiating honest conversations about cultural and social issues of concern in the conference and Church in hopes of deeper change.
  • Visioning for the church of next two generations where my grandchildren will become adults in 15 – 20 years.
  • Engage in recruiting field experts from the gifts of laity, clergy, community, and national leaders in an emerging mission field to inspire vital ministry in the Church.

I would embrace creative ideas and opportunities in the Church at every level to instigate a way to encourage and support emerging forms of the Church with new diverse people in unconventional ways.

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.

I would lead the Church and a conference to strategically involving the community and diverse people we seek to be in ministry within the mission field. I would lead by influencing the need to create of focus groups in the mission field to bring those voices into the conversation and build relationship in hopes that it would build trust in the community. In other words, I would lead by involving those within the demographics and intentionally inviting those voices to the table. This would strengthen the potential to for the Church and conference to understand what is important to the mission field. And it would provide the narrative needed to address discipleship for those who ‘stand with their backs against the wall’ in the words of Howard Thurman. It would focus the larger work of the Church on the mission field and address the multiple spectrums of culture in the conferences and inform the Church and conference of the deep intersections of age, economics, ethnicity, and culture experienced by the everyday people.

I would lead by identifying leadership to equip laity and clergy to study the demographics and discern what is unique about the community, region, or area and cultivate a cultural awareness of who is missing from the conversation. I would lead by asking questions and I would lead by listening, listening, listening. I would lead by including the unheard, unusual, and odd voices from various spectrums of age, culture, ethnicity, class or economic status. I would lead by looking at the historical world of scripture and today’s world to understand that the mission field has always been about diversity of age, economics, ethnicity, and culture.

In my current ministry as Assistant to the Bishop/Director of Clergy Excellence I have led in the Church in reaching the mission field across division, age, ethnicity, and culture by:

  • Leading the Annual Conference 2022 to reflect the rich diversity of the conference in its leadership, committees, boards, and team.
  • Influencing the 2022 Orders and Fellowship for clergy to gather in groups that reflect the demographics of the conference for deeper conversations.
  • Motivated the nominations committee and various conference committees notice the voices or people groups missing at the table.
  • Diligent the conference Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity Task Force.
  • Immigration equity in Conference for international clergy and family move cost associated with USCIS. (U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Service)
  • Addressing the limited opportunities for non-white clergy.
  • Development of a protype for stronger support of cross-racial/cross-cultural clergy appointments in 2021. Cultural coaching and programs for entry for clergy to serve successfully in the conference.
  • Leading in the development of processes for clergy families in isolated locations.
  • Work with GCOR to address systemic issues in conference processes and systems.
  • Conversations with youth and young adults.
  • Prompted the continued ad-hoc gathering of international laity and clergy of color to strengthen connections serving in cross-cultural and cross-racial appointments in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2022.

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

The first risk was to quit my full-time job in the Kansas Army National Guard to serve as a part-time local pastor and attend full-time seminary while my son was in his last year of high school. I risked leading a large children’s ministry every Friday evening for many years in the urban core of a community with children who were labeled ‘at risk’ in a zero-tolerance zone targeted by the city.

The risk that I have taken in ministry are being appointed to serve in cross-racial/cross-cultural contexts to make disciples and influence people to serve the Lord and offer their gifts. I have taken risk to initiate new ministries in the various ministries when all the mechanisms of the ministry were not thoroughly in place. And when the status quo confronted shared it would never work; the Holy Spirit came through. And the outcomes generated new life, new hope and new possibilities for more ministry and visioning.

I have taken risk to speak out about inequality in how women/girls’ sports were not recognized with the nation anthem. I took risk to speak up and out about injustice in community. I have taken risk get involved in necessary trouble or good trouble in community about community injustice because the Church is called prophetically speak to the concerns of those as Howard Thurman states’ stands with their backs against the wall’, or the poor, disinherited and disposed.

The risks in ministry are around matters of appointments, removal of charismatic pastors and angry congregations. In some situations, I have had success and yet it is the failures I learned the most from as I learned sometimes slower is better than moving too fast in some cases. I learned a valuable lesson about how deeply and dearly people love their pastoral leaders even when a leader has crossed boundaries. I continue to take risk in the conference to in revisioning the annual with an infused spirit of hope after three challenging years. All my life I have learned from my failures to look to the gifts and talents of others who can also influence lead change to strengthen the ministries.

Finally, I am currently taking a risk in the process of episcopacy, especially after waiting in unusual times for The United Methodist Church, with 2020 General Conference postponed three times, the splintering/splitting/fracturing of the Church with continued waves of disaffiliation, closures and the ever-changing mission field. And yet there is still hope.

I am taking a risk as a first-time attender to a three-time postponed 2020 General Conference, by offering myself to the episcopacy. But through my life experiences, resilient spirit, and gumption to offer all my gifts to the episcopacy, I believe these risks, successes, and failures contribute to my character as I continue to learn, adapt, and challenge myself to continue to take more risks to call forth change in hopes of making disciples Jesus Christ and transforming the Church, community, and world as a United Methodist.


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?

I would first emphasize the need to identify what the vision of the Conference is by asking three questions. Who are we? Where are we going? How are we going to get there? I would emphasize to the Conference the need to cultivate our compelling story, to share the witness of where God is at work in the Conference. Some strategies and tools I would use to guide the Conference into the mission field to strengthen disciple-making are:

  • Retrieve the practical evangelism and revitalization tool such as the FRAN plan of asking Friends, Relatives, Associates, and Neighbors.
  • Review how to Intentionally usage of social media, podcast, online church models and other tools to enhance the visibility of the conference and witness of the good news Jesus Christ.
  • Restrengthening, the understanding of the Methodist Movement through renewed efforts to form Methodist bands and class meetings, especially in declining areas Wesleyan witness in a community has disappeared.

To increase the number of healthy, vital congregations effectively making disciples of Jesus Christ, I would begin by accessing the currently known statistical data and narratives of healthy and vital churches in the conference. This data would guide collaborative conversations with the cabinet, congregational excellence, and essential lay leadership of the conference to do the following:

  • Identify cultural trends and set achievable outcomes such as increasing the number of professions of faith, baptisms, and other small group opportunities.
  • Create regional leadership summits with healthy and vital churches to provide training to help other locations in the conference.
  • Celebrate “turn-around” churches experiencing new renewed vitality.
  • Champion the variety of gifts represented in the conference using a narrative platform.

I would emphasize that the leadership needed already resides in the conference. And with an intentional focus on the gifts of the laity and clergy so the conference can reach its mission field. I would encourage the usage of tools from United Methodist agencies and other resources to assist the conference in strengthening its commitment to making disciples and increasing the number of healthy vital congregations.


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?

The 2016 Book of Discipline outlines the duties and responsibilities of the Staff/Pastor-Parish Relations Committee in ⁋258. The S/PPRC’s ministry is to identify persons who are possibly experiencing a call to ministry. I would lead the conference to encourage the work of the staff pastor-parish relations committee to intentionally create annual opportunities to identify children, youth, and adults for ministry in the local church.

These opportunities can guide the district and conference and church leadership to create greater visibility for potential candidates to explore a call to ministry.
For clergy effectiveness, I believe intentionally addressing the need for effective clergy early in the ministry process is key to preparing for effective clergy leadership. I think that designating teaching churches through-out the conference would allow the candidate to explore their calling, and it would provide new life, purpose, and vitality to some churches. It would also become another way for a congregation to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

In this model, the district superintendent can assign a mentor or coach with a consultation with the Clergy Excellence, Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, and the District Committee on Ordained Ministry to support the candidates’ ministry. The candidate, with the support of the teaching congregations, would have the liberty to experiment, innovate, and create projects for ministry. The teaching church would provide supervision and feedback with the candidate and the district superintendent to evaluate for effectiveness.

In the situation of ineffective clergy, the 2016 Book of Discipline in ¶359 on Administrative Location provides a current process to guide the evaluation of a clergy person whose ministry effectiveness is in question. Before this formal process, I believe an intervention can happen with the district superintendent, in consultation with the bishop and cabinet. This process would include providing written corrective measures to guide a clergy person to re-evaluate their fitness for ministry and their effectiveness in ministry. Included in the intervention is consultation among the district superintendent, pastor, and SPRC so that a plan would be designed with attainable goals, outcomes, and expectations and with a stated time limit (e.g., nine months) to assist the clergy person in revitalizing their effectiveness in ministry. If, after the time limit, there is no improvement, the district superintendent would recommend that the bishop initiate the process in ¶359. If effectiveness is not achieved based on the ¶359 plan, the clergyperson can request a voluntary leave, or the district superintendent or bishop may request involuntary leave with approval residing with the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry.

    8. What is your philosophy of appointment-making?

    My philosophy of appointment making is to make every effort to consider contextual pastoral leadership to strengthen the church’s mission and vision to reach the mission field. Important to sending and appointing clergy is their ability to transcend and navigate the culture and context they are appointed to serve. Continuous learning, cultural competencies, emotional intelligence, and adaptability are skills all clergy need to develop in any appointment in the evolving mission field that is multiracial and multiethnic.

    It is important that cabinets engage in appointments that are G.I.F.T.E.D. that is to consider is the appointment a great or good fit. Is it inclusive? Is it a faithful discernment or is more time needed? Is it an equitable situation and is it diverse. Gifted does not just rest on the shoulders of the clergy considered but the local church and mission field where their giftedness is being called. (GIFTED was developed in the GPAC)

    And cabinets should also consider is this a necessary to move, is it earnest, what is the strategy and is it strategic for the Conference? (N.ES.S.) (GIFTEDNESS)

    I believe the itineracy system in appointment making has its advantages; it also has its disadvantages. For example, an advantage of the itineracy system is receiving the diverse gifting of clergy from other places and appointing clergy from other conferences, jurisdictions, and cultural contexts as cross-racial and cross-cultural appointments. In part, cross-racial and cross-cultural appointments testify to the commitment towards inclusion and diversity on one level. Also, in the appointment-making process, I think the possibilities for clergy couples for some locations could be an advantage. However, the disadvantages of the itinerancy system can be from the length of the appointment, the difficulty in placing clergy couples, and the reality of appointing ethnic clergy to communities that do not express diversity.

    I also think making specific mission field appointments to various organizations, such as campus ministries and other ministries are essential to the broader reach of the church. Constant equipping, adapting, identifying, and encouraging of the clergy to learn new skills is also crucial to appointment-making within an annual conference for the mission of the Church. Assessing the clergy’s capacity for leadership in the local church, district, conference, and general church is vital to the future development of our young clergy as the church swiftly changes post-Covid into a fast-changing technological community and world.

    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?

    Currently, I work in partnership with the laity in nominations, and with the conference lay leader in leadership of the annual conference. I continue to work to involve laity in the Conference as their participation and expertise is over 99.8% of the conference. Ove the years I have been intentional to include laity in local and district events and made recommendations of laity to serve in conference level opportunities.

    In my new role as the Assistant to the Bishop, I believe the laity in the past and present would describe my work in partnership with laity ministries in planning and execution is considerate, and concise. Laity would say that I listen intently, and I am mindful of the current demands of their time and participation in the ministries of the church, district, and conference as the often are employed outside the church and Conference. Laity would say I seek to maximize their unique gifts and passions they bring to the table, and I seek to invite diverse voices to the table. Laity would describe my leadership as direct, passionate, persuasive convincing, and inspirational to the objective of making disciples of Jesus Christ and furthering the mission of the conference and Church together.

    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?

    First, scripture prompts my understanding of the inclusive nature of the church. In Galatians chapter 3 verse 28, the Apostle Paul says: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This scripture opens the door to all people of every station, location, background, or ability in this life. It gives hope for those who have yet to come to faith in Jesus Christ, and there is a place for all people. Also, the beginning of the church at Pentecost describes that people came from all around from the bringing of the church universal.

    Second, my understanding of the inclusive nature of the church also echoes some of what the Church states in the 2016 Book of Disciple. Paragraphs 124 and 140 indicate the inclusiveness or openness of the Church is its mission and hope to include all people of every background, ethnicity, and ability in life. The Church strives for the inclusion of all people, especially those from the margins of life. Yet, this is a work in progress for the Church.

    On the one hand, I believe I have lived up to the inclusive nature of the church by living to include my neighbor no matter what a person’s race, class, sexuality, gender, ability, or ethnic background. I live up to the idea of inclusion as I sit at the table as one whose encounter with the world where doors of opportunity are are not always opened or hard to open, for where information is not equally shared, and who find that their body, opinions, and voice are easily muted or unacknowledged, misunderstood, or unheard.

    On the other hand, I have fallen short of God’s glory when I have not always addressed the elephant in the room in hopes that someone else would step-up, but it did not occur, and the issue remains unaddressed. Or, I have not verbalized a narrative to assist the majority in hearing the voice of the marginalized. I realize, at times, I have fallen short to speak up consistently to help the institutional Church delve deeper to topple systemic issues that keep the marginalized on the margins. The good news is it is not too late to become a voice of transformation and recommit to address issues and concerns with new tools! Since the murder of George Floyd in May 2022, I have committed myself through study, prayer, hope, and love, to understand and lead and step-up and speak-up for God is calling the disciples of the Church to embody speak the truth in love with the gifts

    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?

    The most significant contribution and the difference I feel I have made fulfilling our mission in the local church through my passion for passionate and inspired preaching that leads to inspiring people to become a disciple of Jesus Christ and empowering disciples to step-up in discipleship to use their gifts, expertise, and graces to the glory of God. While in the local church and in the district superintendent role I made significant contributions to empower and equip the disciples to serve in leadership in the local church, on district and conference committees and to step into leadership. Many found or answered a calling they laid aside for many years and several become certified lay ministers and license local pastors and a few journeyed on to seminary. And, I have made a significant difference in inviting and inspiring young people in and conference levels to serve God by encouraging them to speak up, step up and share their witness and faith in Christ to become a part of the transformation by lending their voice and asking for access to truly engage in the ministries of the conference and Church.

    I feel I have made significant contributions in my leadership as the assistant to the bishop especially in the leadership at the June 2022 annual conference of nearly 1300 members. As the new assistant to the bishop and director of clergy excellence, I led in the annual conference nominations by significantly identifying where the absence of diversity resides in our conference committees, boards, and teams. I have stepped forward to lead the efforts of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity Task Force through the team leaders to address the need for recommendations that will guide the conference in addressing racism, inequality, and equity issues to name a few. I have contributed to the leadership of the annual orders and fellowship event in January 2022 after the selection of a nationally known author and speaker Tim Wise who addressed racism from a societal perspective. My vision for the meeting led the design and planned engagement of the clergy and lay ministers in the online even. The difference the event made created a platform for clergy to learn about racism and witness through video testimonies the challenges that non-white clergy encounter navigating race in the Church and community.

    I initiated the vision of a three-part webinar called, ‘A Time to Listen’ that brought the voices of non-white clergy in the Great Plains conference together after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. The webinar brought their collective narratives and voices to the table for a discussion about what it means to be a non-white clergy serving in the Great Plains Conference since many non-white clergy serve in cross-racial/cross-cultural appointments in predominately white communities in the GPC. The differences these events made brought more clarity and awareness to clergy and laity in the conference about the battles non-white clergy have in the dominate culture in the name of the Church. The videos reside in the conference as equipping tools to make a difference for the conference, churches, study groups, clergy and any person who happens to view these powerful testimonies to listen and learn from other people made in image of God. I have significantly contributed and led as a coalition chairperson for a Community Remembrance Project (CRP) with the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery Alabama. The project addressed lynching and racial terror in Kansas. This is significant because the lynchings happened in the conference. The story was feathered in the Great Plains Conference news in July 2022 and listed by the UM News service. Naming this project is important beyond the conference and impacts the larger Church as we continue to address the harm done with lynching in the nation and in the boundaries of the conference.

    Though I have served on a jurisdictional task force in 2020 as the SCJ realigned annual conference coverage to address retiring bishops, I have served previously as a delegate in 2018 on the Christian Communities Together Ecumenical Concerns of the COB. I continue to be blessed to serve on the 2020 General Conference as delegate for the first time. I believe my service in the local church, district, and conference and in other places in the Church and beyond are important to the experience of attending General Conference. I am honored to have the opportunity now to serve with the trust of the clergy in the Great Plains Conference who elected me to the delegation and that they see that my gifts of inspiration, enthusiasm, gumption, passion, and commitment to the Lord are significant and needed in the Church. I believe that my unique experiences in life, in community, and as a former army soldier has prepared me for such a time as now and I am willing and blessed to serve. I believe the opportunities I have had in ministry are a significant testimony of God’s transformational power which is an important narrative for the future of the Church.

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

    I consider faith in Jesus Christ and his saving work essential for my journey. It is essential for me that God’s love and grace be extended to every soul regardless of the circumstances someone may be currently experiencing. It is essential for me that the good news is preached and that words of life are spoken that compel people to seek change or transformation. It is essential for me that it be made known that God forgives our sins and will transform our lives, minds, and hearts. It is vital for me that love, hope, and faith override the negativity that is often encountered in the community, world, and the Church.

    It is essential for me that we see our neighbors and other people and not walk by them as though they do not exist. It is essential for me that the woman at the well have an opportunity to ask questions because it was, she who went and told everyone about the man that told her everything about herself. It is essential for me that the Church is engaged in the mission field and making disciples, serving, and engaging children, youth, and young adults and elders in need of hope and that unjust systemic issues are addressed by the Conference and the Church. It is essential for me that every soul knows that they do have gifts, talents, and graces to offer, and that God can use them to help build God’s kingdom on earth. It is essential for me that the church of Jesus Christ move forward into the future so that my seven grandchildren can have a place in the church where their gifts and graces are developed. It is essential for me that the church reaches out in innovative ways to reach new places for new people. It is vital for me to build a life of devotion to the Lord and remember that all I have to offer to the Lord is myself, and I pray that the Lord can use me while I have time on this earth to serve.

    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?

    If I am elected, the assignment would have minimal impact on my family. My son and his family live and work in Wisconsin. My mother resides in Topeka, Kansas, where there are numerous family members and church family. We will discern if my mother moves to the location of my assignment or remains nearer to the family. My dog will reside in foster care until the new living situation is settled.

    My health remains constantly and significantly improved since the fall of 2017. Physically, I have lost one hundred pounds and constantly work on diet and exercise. I am a breast cancer survivor, and I remain cancer-free since July 2012 and completed the chemotherapy pill regiment in January 2022. Annually, I have regular medical check-ups for my total physical health.

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

    I am eligible to serve three quadrennials if elected by the South Central Jurisdiction.


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

    How I understand the obligation as a bishop to uphold the Book of Discipline parallels my understanding as a former Army soldier who had to uphold regulations and policies of the military in field training and daily work, I understand the commitment. As a government accountant for the Army National Guard, the rules, and regulations to perform my work in compliance with federal funding was critical to receiving funding from Department of the Army and the National Guard Bureau. In like matter, I understand the bishop is obligated to uphold the Book of Discipline, even as there is legislation to revise and perfect its governance in consideration of the diverse and global nature of The United Methodist Church in an ever-changing world.

    I understand bishops for the Church are obligated in their roles and responsibilities as the general superintendents of the whole Church to passionately uphold the discipline and order of the Church for the unity of the Church as the chief elder and shepherd of the whole flock with the desire for unity within the Church even in discordant times. However, Bishops are also obligated to lead through the disciplines of teaching how to make disciples, being curious and knowing the Wesleyan heritage, history, and doctrines.

    Bishops are obligated to lead the whole Church, in visioning new paths or ‘better’ ways of being Christ disciples in the world. And are obligated to seek justice and to speak prophetically to a broken world. There is also the obligation for bishops to be life-long learners and sharing with other bishops the oversight of the whole Church with accountability to the Council of Bishops, in conjunction with the conference and jurisdictional committees on episcopacy. Bishops as the general superintendent of the Church are obligated to guard the faith, order the Church, hold to the doctrine, and discipline of the Church even in chaotic and uncertain times and to appoint clergy (¶403). And bishops are obligated to the ministry and witness of leadership, visioning, clarity of mission, teaching, promoting evangelism, encouraging, inspiring, and making disciples as a primary responsibility to the broader Church (¶414).


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

    I believe there are areas in the current 2016 Book of Discipline that can change. Simplistic changes to some practices and procedures found ¶230-242 are a good start. The three-year process to remove a member who has not attended the church in nearly ten, twenty, thirty years is cumbersome. Streamlining the process is a worthy work. With the aftermath of Covid-19 the church must redefine what a vital congregation is when online viewing has become the new way to attend worship. Ideas about vitality and average worship attendance in the United Methodist Church deserve a worthy rethink how we count or whom we count.

    Another area for revision consideration is found in ⁋205 and ⁋268 when dealing with issues of supplying ministerial leadership in isolated depopulating places and urban ministries that are in places where the community and neighborhood is more diverse racially and culturally than the church attenders. It is at times challenging to appoint licensed or ordained clergy due to the inability for the context to fund a full-time minimum salary package. Allowing for more flexibility is needed to assign longer-term certified lay ministers or district assignees to these ministries. Added requirements to serve in as a CLM/DSA can create unrealistic expectations when the person is offering themselves as a bi-vocational minister and they want to use their gifts for ministry in the local church. Conversations with the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and in consultation with the cabinet can facilitate some options. But legislative changes can help the Church move forward.

    I believe that by making positive changes, innovations, and streamlining the Book of Discipline of some processes, restrictions, requirements, and paperwork would give more time to the mission of the to make disciples of Jesus Christ to reach the multi-cultural and multifaceted world we live in today.

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

    Leading an individual to a profession of faith takes place best in relationship and is highly effective in the context of the community and local church. In the leadership roles I have held in the last eight years my ministry has resided outside the local church serving as a District Superintendent seven years and now as the Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Clergy Excellence, therefore must be creative and strategic approach in my approach to leading a person(s) to a profession of faith.

    In past experiences, in the local church context I have led youth on the margins into understanding faith that led to a profession of faith and baptism or confirmation. Previously as a District Superintendent, I intentionally met with young adults at the university where the district office was on campus and slowly built relationships with the students in hopes of either planting or watering seeds of faith. One such encounter in 2014-16 of a young person has recently begun to bear fruit in July of 2022 with another inquiry about their faith and calling to ministry.

    I continue to explore the opportunity to engage in a campus ministry in the community I live. I believe the Holy Spirit is calling me to participate this way in the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ and this adaptation allows me to build unique and innovative relationships with diverse young people in hopes that the Spirit of the Lord will transform their lives as they encounter Christ, and in the years to come bear fruit and witness to the mission of the Church.