Members of the United Methodist Judicial Council for 2016-2020 met briefly during General Conference 2016. From left are the Rev. Dennis L. Blackwell, Beth Capen, the Rev. J. Kabamba Kiboko, N. Oswald Tweh Sr., Ruben Reyes, the Rev. Øyvind Helliesen, and the Rev. Luan-Vu Tran of Lakewood, Calif. Not pictured are Deanell Reese Tacha and Lídia Romão Gulele. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS.

Judicial Council members

Meet the members of the council. 
Rev. Dennis L. Blackwell

Rev. Dennis L. Blackwell - Member

Dennis was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey and attended college in Atlanta and seminary in Kentucky. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Alvernia University in Pennsylvania. He is Pastor of Woodlynne, NJ: Asbury UMC where he has served for 29 years. He has served on the Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy and Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century. He has been Bible Study Instructor for the Philadelphia Eagles’ football team. He is on the Board for the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association and the State Police Chaplain Corp. He is married to Ann, is father to Myika, and proud grandfather of Ava and Zoe Ramirez.
Timothy Bruster

Tim Bruster — First Clergy Alternate

Tim is a local church pastor appointed as Senior Pastor of Fort Worth, TX: First where he has been for 14 years. He was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. He has served seven previous local churches in Texas. He has been a delegate to General Conference in 2008, 2012, 2016 and was head of delegation in 2008 and 2016. He has been President of Central Texas Annual Conference Council on Finance and Administration, a member of General Council on Finance and Administration, Chair of Central Texas Conference Committee on Episcopacy; first clergy alternate to Judicial Council 2012-2016. He is married to Susan and has three children and three grandchildren.
Beth Capen

Beth Capen — Member

Bio to be supplied.
Lidia Gulele

Lidia Gulele — Member

Lidia was born in Inhambane – Massinga. She is a lawyer working for Liberdade Ministry and has been chair of the Board from 2012 to 2016. In her local church, she has served as youth secretary, with young adults, and as president of women’s projects, and many other local church positions. She has served her annual conference and was elected a delegate to General Conference 2016. She is married to Jorge Jamisse Julai and has two children.

Øyvind Helliesen — Member

Øyvind for the past six years has been a district superintendent in Norway and also Dean of the Cabinet. He was born in Stavanger, Norway. He has served local churches for several decades and has been a Superintendent prior to his present appointment. He was elected to the Central and General conferences and was one of the editors of the adapted Book of Discipline for his Central Conference. He was a delegate to the World Methodist Council and has worked with the UMC in Liberia, Zimbabwe, and Angola. He is a trained mentor and is working in this capacity with several denominations. He is married to Tove and has three children and five grandchildren.
J. Kabamba Kiboko

J. Kabamba Kiboko — Secretary

Kabamba is lead pastor of Cincinnati, OH: Forest Chapel UMC (4 years). She received the Harry Denman Award for Evangelism in West Ohio Conference in 2015. Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, she became the first clergywoman ordained in the Southern Congo Conference (1983). She has served in the Texas Conference (1991 to 2013), The South Congo Conference (1981-1986), and as Mission Interpreter & Liaison for the Southern Congo-Zambia Episcopal Area (1986 – 2012). She was a delegate to 1984 General Conference and to 1984 Central Conference of Africa. She is president of the African Clergywomen since 2012. She recently published Divining the Woman of Endor. She is married to Rev. Kalamba Kilumba and has three children.
Warren Plowden

Warren Plowden — First Lay Alternate

Warren was born in Bainbridge, Georgia and is a lay member of Macon, GA: Vineville UMC. He has served his local church and his annual conference for many years. He is a partner in a law firm in Macon and is authorized to practice in all courts to the U.S. Supreme Court. He has been a lawyer for 47 years. He has been a law clerk and Adjutant in the U.S. Army and became a life member of Counterparts Tuong Hu Dong Nam A. He has served as Chancellor of the South Georgia Annual Conference since 1990 and served as an alternate to the Judicial Council during the last quadrennium. He has also been on the boards of Goodwill and Boy Scouts, and has been president of Lions Club and Little League. He is married to Mary Jo and has three children and two grandchildren.
Ruben T. Reyes

Ruben T. Reyes — Vice-President

Ruben was born in Hagonoy, Bulacan, The Philippines. He is an active member of Manila: Central UMC where he has held many positions including lay leader. He is a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, former Presiding Justice, Philippine Court of Appeals and Manila Regional Trial Court judge. He has served in the annual conference and in the Philippine Central Conference as president of the Board of Laity. He is the president of the Philippine National Prayer Breakfast Foundation. He is in his second term as a member of the Judicial Council having been elected in 2008 and, again, in 2016. He is married to Ellie, a lawyer, and has four children and ten grandchildren.
Deanell Reece Tacha

Deanell Reece Tacha — Member

Deanell, born in Goodland, Kansas, is a lay member of Lawrence, KS: First UMC. She has served on Trustees, Staff-Parish, and Council on Ministries. She has been elected to membership in the Kansas East Annual Conference (now Great Plains Annual Conference) and is active in United Methodist Women. She hasretired as Dean of Pepperdine Law School at the end of 2017 having served since 2011. Prior to her Deanship, she was Circuit Judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit from 1985. She has served on the Trustees of St. Paul School of Theology and Baker University – two UMC institutions in Kansas. She is married to John and has four children and five grandchildren.
Luan-Vu Tran

Luan-Vu "Lui" Tran — Member

Born in Vietnam and raised in Switzerland, “Lui” worked as a lawyer for the Swiss Justice Department. He later answered God’s call and became a missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators working in Cameroon, Ghana, and Kenya. Lui is an elder and member of the California-Pacific Annual Conference where he has served as local church pastor for more than a decade. He serves on the Conference’s Rules Committee and the Trustees of the Claremont School of Theology. Lui is fluent in English, French, German, and Vietnamese. He has degrees from the University of Bern, Harvard Law School, Claremont School of Theology, and McGill University where he earned a Ph.D. with honors in international human rights law. Lui is married to Traci. They have two sons.
N. Oswald Tweh

N. Oswald Tweh — President

Oswald is a lay member of Monrovia, Liberia: S. T. Nagbe UMC where he was born. He is chair of their building committee and has been on the Church Council, Advance Committee, and Trustees. He is Managing Director of Pierre, Tweh & Associates in Monrovia where he was previously Managing Partner. He has degrees from Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law in Liberia and Harvard Law School. Oswald is a former Chancellor of the Liberia Annual Conference and is on the boards of United Methodist University of Monrovia, Ganta United Methodist Mission Hospital, and Africa University in Zimbabwe. He is married to Olabunmi and has four children.

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