BY SKYLER E. NIMMONS*
July 18, 2012 Lake Junaluska NC
The Rev. Dr. Kenneth H. Carter Jr. of Waynesville, N.C., has been elected bishop by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference of The United Methodist Church.
Carter, 54, superintendent of the Smoky Mountain District of the Western North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference, was elected July 18 by jurisdictional conference delegates. On Sept. 1, he will become one of 13 active bishops in the Southeastern Jurisdiction, which includes 15 annual (regional) conferences. Delegates of the 2012 jurisdictional conferences will elect a total 11 U.S. bishops, 5 of which will come from the Southeastern Jurisdiction. Carter is the second elected bishop of the 2012 conferences.
A consecration service for the new bishops will be held at 10:00 a.m. July 20 in Stuart Auditorium at Lake Junaluska Assembly.
An episcopal assignment committee will consider where Carter, the other bishop-elects and the other active bishops will serve for the next four years. Their assignments will be announced before the consecration service on July 20.
Endorsed by the Western North Carolina Conference, Carter was elected on the third ballot, receiving 271 of 438 votes cast.
A native of Georgia, Carter received a Bachelor of Science from Columbus College, a Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School, a Master of Arts from the University of Virginia, and a Doctor of Ministry from Princeton Seminary.
In a brief word to the conference Carter said, “I know it’s a gift, and it’s not really a gift to me, but a gift to me for the sake of the Church, the mission of the Church, the renewal of the Church, and the unity of the Church. I ask for your prayers and I thank you.”
Carter, who currently serves as the superintendent of the Smoky Mountain District, has been a delegate to five Jurisdictional Conferences and three General Conferences and has served as the chairperson of the Western North Carolina Conference delegation for both conferences in 2012.
Carter and wife, Pam have two daughters, Liz, a Chinese translator in Washington, D.C., and Abby, a recent graduate of Huntingdon College, a United Methodist-related institution, in Montgomery, Ala.
He is the author of seven books with topics that range from stewardship and spiritual gifts to baptism and Methodist practices. His eighth book, on intercession, was published by the Upper Room in 2012. Dr. Carter has preached and taught in more than 10 annual conferences in the Southeastern Jurisdiction alone and countless other conferences in each of the five jurisdictions of the United States, as well as annual conferences in Liberia and Haiti.
Carter was ordained a deacon in 1983 and an elder in 1986; and has served a variety of appointments prior to his appointment to his election to the episcopacy.
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.
Skyler Nimmons is the Communications Specialist for the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church.