Matthews begins appointment with call to prayer
BY MELISSA LAUBER
Updated July 23, 12 p.m.
Bishop Marcus Matthews is beginning his term as episcopal leader of the Baltimore-Washington Conference with a call to prayer.
As an order of the day, he invites every United Methodist to join with him in prayer each morning. “I ask God every morning to make me a better man this day than I was yesterday. … If we’re a praying annual conference, miracles will happen,” he told the Baltimore-Washington Conference delegates to the Northeastern Jurisdiction in a July 20 meeting, following the announcement of his appointment.
Matthews is following Bishop John Schol, who has led the Baltimore-Washington Conference for the past eight years. Schol acknowledged the positive potential Matthews brings with him as “a man of God, and someone who knows how to get good ministry done.”
Matthews begins as bishop in this area in September. The move will be a return home to the conference in which he began his ministry.
A 1971 graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., he served Douglas Memorial Asbury UMC Jones Memorial UMCs in Washington D.C, and Epworth Chapel UMC in Baltimore. Growth and community outreach were the focus at each of the churches he served. At Jones Memorial, from 1976 to 1982, he oversaw the creation of a new sanctuary and a community development program. During his four year appointment at Epworth, from 1982 to 1986, 272 new members joined the church.
In 1986, Matthews became district superintendent of the Baltimore East District and in 1991 was named conference council director, a position he held until being named Washington West District superintendent in 1999.
In 2004, the conference endorsed him as a candidate for bishop and he was elected to the episcopacy that year. He was assigned to serve the Philadelphia Episcopal Area, which includes the Eastern Pennsylvania and Peninsula-Delaware annual conferences.
In 2008 he was appointed to serve as the episcopal leader of the New York West Area and in 2010, he was appointed to lead the newly formed Upper New York Annual Conference. Under his leadership, four annual conferences -- North Central New York, Troy, Western New York and the Wyoming Conference -- were united into one.
In his work in the General Church, Matthews, who received his doctorate from New York Theological Seminary, has focused on growth and continuing education, most recently leading ministry efforts at Africa University in Zimbabwe, and served as chair of the denomination’s General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
Matthews says he is looking forward to returning to the Washington, D.C. area, a place that first captured his imagination when he was in the sixth grade in Florence, S.C., and the school’s safety patrol took a field trip to the nation’s capital.
From the bus window, he caught his first glimpse of the monuments, and was “amazed at the beauty and majesty of Washington.” When he returned home, he said, “the first thing I remember saying was, ‘One day I will live in Washington, D.C.’”
He admits feeling God’s hand at work, allowing him to return to the area to faithfully and actively serve in the next four years before he retires.
After meeting with the BWC delegation at the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference, Matthews went immediately to preach at the Service of Consecration, which welcomed three new bishops into the church.
In his sermon, he continued the theme of faithful service, reminding those present that “this journey we’re on is not, nor never has ever been, about us. It’s really all about God and fulfilling God’s purpose in us.
“Whenever we focus on Jesus everything else will always fall into its proper place,” he said. “Remember to put Christ first, at the center of every single thing you do.”
Matthews will be joined in this new ministry by his wife Barbara. On the day of the announcement they celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary. The couple has two children, Jaime and Marci, and five grandchildren.
“I want to say God has given us a great gift. There is nowhere else on earth we’d rather be than the Baltimore-Washington Conference,” Matthews said. “I know the Baltimore-Washington Conference continues to be a great conference and we look forward to being part of that journey with you.”