BWC-endorsed candidate reflects on the church
BY MELISSA LAUBER
At the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference July 16-20 in Charleston, W. Va. three bishops were elected from among 19 endorsed candidates.
On the fifth ballot, Sandra Steiner Ball, the director of connectional ministries for the Peninsula Delaware Conference, was elected. She will serve the West Virginia Annual Conference.
On the twenty-first ballot, Martin D. McLee, superintendent of the Metro Boston Hope District of the New England Conference, was elected. He will serve the New York Area.
On the thirty-fifth ballot, Mark Webb, superintendent of the York District of the Susquehanna Annual Conference, became a bishop. He was appointed to the Upper New York Area.
The Rev. Rodney Smothers, the endorsed candidate for the episcopacy from the Baltimore-Washington Conference, withdrew from the election for bishop July 19, on the second day of voting before the 19th ballot was taken, thanking God for “the wonderful journey this has been.”
The pastor of St. Paul UMC in Oxon Hill and Corkran Memorial UMC in Temple Hill was endorsed by members of the Baltimore-Washington Conference at their May session to be in an election to choose three bishops who will serve in the Northeast Jurisdiction.
In interviews for discernment with the 227 members of the Northeastern Jurisdiction on July 17, Smothers stressed the need for United Methodists “to act and live with a courageous prophetic witness that addresses advocacy, injustice and transformation at every level of church,” and to reach out to the unchurched “through relevant discipleship that touches and connects people with Christ.”
In his ministry at all levels of the church, he said, he has become firmly convinced that “evangelism at its best is sharing Christ in people’s everyday life experiences.”
Smothers prayerfully withdrew from the election after dropping to 16 votes. He called it his “Genesis 50 moment. … I relinquish this opportunity,” he said, “trusting that greater things are in store for me.”
During the election for three bishops, the Rev. Laura Easto, pastor of Westminster UMC, was nominated from the floor. During the third ballot, she received 18 votes, but her support dropped to three votes by the eleventh ballot.
In a written statement to the delegates, she offered herself as a servant leader. “Servant leadership is the model of Jesus,” she wrote. “Somehow the Lord always managed to be on the margins without excluding the crowds. He healed the non- and nominally religious even as he held his own disciples to a significant level of accountability. He taught with actions as much as his words.”
The name of the Rev. Joan Carter-Rimbach of First UMC in Hyattsville surfaced toward the end of the balloting. On the twenty-eighth ballot she received 10 votes. She addressed the members, saying that after prayerful discernment, she wished to withdraw from the process.
“God has spoken to my spirit and said, ‘not yet,’ Carter-Rimbach said. “And I want to be faithful to the call God has on my life.”