By Kathy Gilbert*
Nov. 4, 2009 | LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS)
Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster of Western North Carolina will be the next president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops.
The council at its fall meeting on Nov. 4 elected Goodpaster president and Bishop Rosemarie Wenner of Germany president-elect by a "staggering" majority, announced Bishop Gregory Palmer, current council president.
Goodpaster will take over leadership of the worldwide council May 6, 2010. Wenner will serve as president in 2012. The bishops serve for two-year terms.
"It was exciting two years ago when I was in Bishop Wenner's place as president-elect, but now making it official I also feel the weight and the excitement of the possibilities," said Goodpaster, 61. "I am energized for this great opportunity to do something for Christ and his church that will have lasting benefits."
Power in the connection
Goodpaster was appointed to serve as the leader for the Western North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference at the 2008 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference.Elected to the episcopacy in 2000, Goodpaster led the Alabama-West Florida Conference for eight years. Before his election, he served as a pastor and district superintendent in the Mississippi Conference.
His pastoral experience includes a five-church rural charge, a new congregation and several larger membership churches. He has taught in a variety of settings and published in various denominational publications. His latest book, "There's Power in the Connection," was published in 2008 by Abingdon Press.
Goodpaster earned a bachelor of arts degree from Millsaps College, Jackson, Miss., and master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from Candler School of Theology in Atlanta.
A sign of trust
Wenner, 54, was elected bishop in 2005, becoming the denomination's first woman elected to the episcopacy outside the United States.
"When you are one of the central conference bishops, you don't come here thinking you are going to be a leader for the Council of Bishops," she said. "It was surprising when they asked me and a great sign of trust and expectations. The past presidents have set the stage for us to focus on the most important thing in the world, to make disciples for the transformation of the world."
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A native of Eppingen in southern Germany, she had served as superintendent of the church's Frankfurt District since 1996. She studied at the United Methodist Theological Seminary in Reutlingen and has held pastorates in Karlsruhe, Hockenheim and Darmstadt.
The Council of Bishops represents 11.5 million United Methodists in the United States, Africa, Europe and Asia. It includes 69 active and 98 retired bishops.
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or [email protected].