Southeastern elects Haupert-Johnson as bishop

The Rev. Sue Haupert-Johnson, a district superintendent of the Florida Annual Conference, has been elected as a United Methodist bishop by delegates at the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference.

Haupert-Johnson, 54, was elected Wednesday, July 13, at the jurisdiction’s quadrennial meeting at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. On the 10th ballot, she received 230 of 375 votes cast.

In her introduction address on Tuesday, Haupert-Johnson stressed the need for the church to have room for everyone at God's table.

“I hope you will go and spread a table ‘with a sumptuous gospel feast,’” she bid the delegates.

Haupert-Johnson was the fifth bishop elected by the 376 delegates, an equal number of United Methodist clergy and laity, from the nine states that form the Southeastern Jurisdiction. The assignments of bishops for the next four years will be announced later in the week. Her four-year term of service begins Sept. 1.

Haupert-Johnson, nominated by the Florida Conference, is the current district superintendent of Florida’s Gulf Central District. She served as North Central District superintendent since July 2013, overseeing a church landscape of large and small congregations in a mix of urban, suburban and rural communities. The district’s demographics are diverse as well, including African-American, Haitian, Hispanic and Native American worshippers.

Before that, she served as pastor of churches in Tampa, Cape Coral and Ocala, and was an associate pastor at First United Methodist, Lakeland. She holds a law degree from the University of Florida and was a litigator with a Tampa law firm before answering the call to ministry and graduating summa cum laude from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. She was ordained a deacon in 1996 and an elder in 1998.

Haupert-Johnson has had numerous leadership roles in the Florida Conference and has represented the Florida UMC twice at General Conference – serving as Judicial Administration Legislative Committee chairperson in 2012 – and three times at jurisdictional conference.

A consecration service for the five new bishops will be held at 10:00 a.m. EDT Friday, July 15, at Lake Junaluska. The ceremony can be watched live at the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center’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). Thirteen active bishops now lead the 15 annual conferences that form the Southeastern Jurisdiction.

A United Methodist bishop 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: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

*Reporting by staff of the Florida Conference.

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