Mueller, 58, was elected Thursday, July 19, at the jurisdiction’s quadrennial meeting in downtown Oklahoma City. On the 11th ballot, he received 170 of 506 votes cast. The delegates voted for two bishops on this ballot.
He described his leadership style as one that seeks “to bring lots of people to the table.”
He seeks to help ask the right questions and fully keep the vision and mission in front of people. He wants to empower laity and clergy “so they own it and get about the business of disciple-making.”
Mueller was the second bishop elected by the 256 delegates, an equal number of United Methodist clergy and laity, from the eight states that form the South Central Jurisdiction. The assignments of bishops in the South Central Jurisdiction for the next four years will be announced later in the week. His four-year term of service begins Sept. 1.
Mueller, nominated by the North Texas Annual (regional) Conference and endorsed by the North Texas jurisdictional delegation, has helped his Plano congregation grow from an average weekly attendance of 760 in 2001 to 1,265 in 2010.
He sees hope for reversing the declining United Methodist worship attendance in the South Central Jurisdiction and the United States over all. “You start with the basics, and that’s Jesus and get the congregation to fall in love with Jesus and get excited about sharing Jesus,” he said. “The thing that makes me most proud of the folks at First Plano is their commitment to grow deeper in discipleship. In fact, they just adopted a new mission statement. It came from the laity: ‘Creating a Hunger to Follow Jesus.’”
He presently serves as chair of the conference’s board of ordained ministry and previously was chair of the North Texas Conference Ministry Center Building Committee.
He was a delegate to the 2012 General Conference, where he successfully put forth the “Mueller Amendment,” which created greater oversight of the appointment process along with the end of guaranteed full-time appointments for ordained elders.
He first got involved with The United Methodist Church as a high school student in Pittsburg, Kan., and as an undergraduate student at the University of Kansas, he was roommates with future Kansas Area Bishop Scott J. Jones. His previous appointments include time as an associate and later executive pastor of First United Methodist Church in Richardson, Texas. Since then, he has been pastor of Brewster Memorial United Methodist Church, McKenzie Memorial United Methodist Church, First United Methodist Church Roanoke-Trophy Club-Westlake and First United Methodist Church in Denton. He also previously served as director of the North Texas Council on Ministries.
He is a graduate of Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology.
A consecration service for the three new bishops will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, July 21, at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City. The ceremony can be watched live at the South Central Jurisdiction’s website.
Within the United States, local United Methodist churches are organized into increasingly larger groups: numerous districts, dozens of annual conferences and five jurisdictions (regions). Ten active bishops now lead the annual conferences that form the South Central Jurisdiction.
A United Methodist bishop in the United States is elected for life. Typically, a bishop will serve in a specific annual conference for eight years. The United Methodist Book of Discipline, the denomination’s law book, directs each bishop to “guard the faith, order, liturgy, doctrine, and discipline of the Church” and to “lead all persons entrusted to their oversight in worship, in the celebration of the sacraments, and in their mission of witness and service in the world.” Bishops also are to be “prophetic voices and courageous leaders in the cause of justice for all people.”
The states represented in this jurisdiction are: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.