Jul 18

Debra Wallace-Padgett elected a bishop of The United Methodist Church

July 18, 2012 Lake Junaluska, N.C.

The Rev. Dr. Debbie Wallace-PadgettThe Rev.Debra Wallace-Padgett of the Kentucky Annual (regional) Conference has been elected a bishop by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference of The United Methodist Church.

She becomes the fourth bishop elected by the 2012 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. Jurisdictional conferences are being held this week in five regions of the United States. Wallace-Padgett, who serves as lead pastor of St. Luke United Methodist Church in Lexington, Ky., was elected on a ballot taken at 5:20 p.m. on July 18. She will fill one of the vacancies created in the denomination’s jurisdictional College of Bishops by the retirement of five bishops.

Wallace-Padgett will become one of 13 active bishops serving the episcopal areas of the 15 annual conferences that make up the Southeastern Jurisdiction.

A consecration service for the new bishops will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 20, in Stuart Auditorium at Lake Junaluska.

An episcopal assignment committee is considering where Wallace-Padgett and other active bishops will serve for the next four years. Their assignments will be effective Sept. 1.

Endorsed by the Kentucky Annual Conference, Wallace-Padgett was elected on the eleventh ballot, receiving 274 of the 434 votes cast. She is a former district superintendent and has a doctorate of ministry from Asbury Theological Seminary and master’s degrees in Christian education and divinity from Scarritt College and Lexington Theological Seminary, respectively.

Wallace-Padgett is married to the Rev. Lee Padgett, executive director of Aldersgate Camp and Retreat Center, and is the mother of two children, Leanndra and Andrew.

She has served as a General Conference delegate from 2000 through 2012 and her previous service to The United Methodist Church includes the following:

Kentucky Annual Conference Leadership
•Episcopacy Committee Chair 4 years
•Board of Ordained Ministry – 14 years
•Dean of Cabinet – 2 years
•Primary Task Team – 6 years
•Vital Church Network Chair – 2 years
•Methodist Children’s Home Chair – 2 years
•Lexington District Committee on Ministry Chair – 7 years
•Children & Poverty Board – 2 years
•Education Chair – 4 years
•Summer Camp Dean – 3 years

Southeastern Jurisdiction Leadership
•Episcopacy Committee – 4 years
•Intentional Growth Center – 12 years, Chair – 2 years
•Clergy Women Consultation Steering Team – 1 year

General Church Leadership
•General Commission on Status and Role of Women – 8 years
•Executive Committee of the Interjurisdictional Committee on the Episcopacy – 4 years
•World Methodist Council

A United Methodist bishop in the United States is elected for life and, although eight years is the standard term for a bishop to serve in an Episcopal area, it is not unusual for a bishop to be assigned to one area for 12 years for “missional reasons.”

Bishops are charged by the church’s Book of Discipline to “lead and oversee the spiritual and temporal affairs” of the church and to “guard, transmit, teach and proclaim, corporately and individually, the apostolic faith as it is expressed in Scripture and tradition, and, as they are led and endowed by the Spirit, to interpret that faith evangelically and prophetically.”

A jurisdictional conference has the following power and duties:
• To promote the evangelistic, educational, missionary and benevolent interests of the church and to provide for interests and institutions within their boundaries.
• To elect bishops.
• To establish and constitute jurisdictional conference boards as auxiliaries to the general boards of the church.
• To determine the boundaries of annual conferences.
• To make rules and regulations for the administration of the church’s work within the jurisdiction.
• To appoint a committee on appeals.

The United Methodist Church was created in 1968 by a merger of the Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist churches. Methodists elected their bishops at one national gathering until 1940, when the jurisdictional system was instituted. Bishops in the EUB church were elected at one national gathering until 1968.

Cathy L. Bruce is the associate director of connectional Ministries for communications for the Kentucky Conference of The United Methodist Church.


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  1. Annie Haigler

    Blessings and congratulations Debbie and Lee.

    What a spiritual honor to be elected to this position. Please know that we are praying for you and your family. We celebrate this with you. May God always bless you and the ministry that you’ve been called too. It is always an emotional time when you witness God’s work being lived out. Today was especially emotional because you are one of us.

  2. Ron and Bonnie Crandall

    The conference that receives Debbie as their bishop will truly be blest by one who can live out 1Peter 3:15. In her heart she has set apart Christ as Lord. She is always prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks for the reason of the hope she has. And she does it with gentleness and respect.

    We support her and her amazing husband and children as they undergo this transition.

  3. Harun Gatobu

    Pator Debbie, What can we say but to praise and thank God for you. All along God had a plan for you and for his Church both locally and global.We celebrate with you Lee and and your family. In my language, “Pongezi Sana”- Congratulations. The Lord will be with you wherever you go (Joshuah1:9)

  4. Laura McDonald

    Blessings to you, Lee, and family on your election. Although we have lost touch, I still remember your quiet wisdom and persistent hope from Scarritt days and KY CEF. I know the UMC will be much blessed by your gifts and service. Prayers for this big transition!

  5. John and Lauta Hardeman, north Al Cong.

    I am excited for the North Alabama Conference that you are our in-coming Bishop. You and your family will be in our prayers. WELCOME to North Alabama.

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