Eight Women Elected Bishops

GCSRW celebrates the Church's election to have more women in leadership beyond 2022. Bishops are the top clergy leaders of The United Methodist Church. Learn more about our newly elected bishops below. 

Rev. Kennetha Bigham-Tsai

The Rev. Kennetha Bigham-Tsai, chief connectional ministries officer for the Connectional Table, has been elected as bishop in The United Methodist Church’s North Central Jurisdictional Conference.

Bigham-Tsai’s election on Wednesday afternoon was a historic milestone, as she was the first to be elected on the first round of voting within the North Central Jurisdiction’s history. Speaking from the podium, Bigham-Tsai exuded joy and elation at the news: “I am overwhelmed. I am humbled. I am so very grateful.” She called on those listening to take hold of their identity as United Methodists, a worldwide connection grounded in a theology of grace, and to be bold in their storytelling. Read the full story at UMNews.org


Rev. Dee Williamston

The Rev. Delores “Dee” Williamston, director of clergy excellence and assistant to the bishop of the Great Plains Conference, has been elected as bishop in The United Methodist Church’s South Central Jurisdictional Conference.

She is the first Black female bishop for the jurisdiction. Williamston was elected on the first ballot, receiving 141 votes out of 151 valid ballots cast. Williamston noted the historic nature of her election. “God showed up through the South Central Jurisdiction to elect their first African American woman bishop,” she said. “It means a lot to stand here and represent and finally say we are here and we are not done.”  Read the full story at UMNews.org


Rev. Laura Merrill

The Rev. Laura Merrill was elected as bishop on the first ballot in the South Central Jurisdictional Conference. Ninety-one votes, or 60%, was required to win the post. She received 99.

Also elected on the first ballot Nov. 2 were the Rev. Dee Williamston, director of clergy excellence and assistant to the bishop of the Great Plains Conference, with 141 votes; and the Rev. David Wilson, assistant to the bishop of the Oklahoma and Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, with 92. Merrill noted that her election came on the same first ballot as that of Dee Williamston, the first African American woman elected to the episcopacy from the South Central Jurisdiction, and David Wilson, the denomination’s first Native American bishop. “To be a part of that (history) is just joy,” Merrill said. Read the full story at UMNews.org


Rev. Lanette Plambeck

The Rev. Lanette Plambeck, the only endorsed candidate for bishop of the Iowa Annual Conference, was elected on the third ballot at the North Central Jurisdictional Conference. 

“I love our God, and I love The United Methodist Church,” Plambeck said. “I wasn’t born in it but was called to it, and I believe to the very depth of who I am and that our very best years are ahead of us, right here, right now.” Read the full story at UMNews.org


Rev. Connie Shelton

The Rev. Connie Mitchell Shelton, district superintendent in the Mississippi Conference, has been elected as bishop in The United Methodist Church’s Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. 

Shelton was the endorsed candidate of the Southeastern Jurisdiction Clergywomen’s Caucus, and was supported by the Mississippi delegation to General Conference and the jurisdictional conference. Read the full story at UMNews.org


Rev. Dottie Escobedo-Frank

The Rev. Dottie Escobedo-Frank, senior pastor of Paradise Valley United Methodist Church in Paradise Valley, Arizona, was elected a bishop by The United Methodist Church’s Western Jurisdiction. 

In her election remarks, Escobedo-Frank acknowledged her rich family history and how it calls her to ministry. Her great-grandfather on her mother’s side was a Methodist circuit rider. Her grandmother crossed the Rio Grande while in labor with her father to find religious freedom.

“I have deep roots in the Methodist tradition and I have deep connection to the Latinos of our country and of the world,” she said. “Today it feels like they’re being married somehow, two parts of me again.” Read the full story at UMNews.org


Rev. Robin Dease

The Rev. Robin Dease, a pastor and former district superintendent in the South Carolina Conference, has been elected as a bishop of The United Methodist Church’s Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference.

Dease – who was nominated as a write-in on the first ballot on Nov. 2 – was the third bishop elected at the Nov. 2-4 meeting, following the Rev. Tom Berlin of the Virginia Conference and the Rev. Connie Shelton of the Mississippi Conference, both of whom were elected the day before.

“Whenever I had the opportunity to lead or to serve, I would run home to my parents…and they’d say, ‘Now, don’t go down there and make us ’shamed!’” Dease told delegates upon her election. “My commitment to you is: I will never make you ’shamed.” Read the full story at UMNews.org


Rev. Ruby Nell Estrella

The Rev. Ruby-Nell M. Estrella, treasurer of the Philippines Central Conference, has been elected the first female bishop in The United Methodist Church’s Philippines Central Conference. 

Conference delegates and guests were all agog in celebrating the election of the first female bishop in the conference’s history.

“I hope I will be able to do more for the women and youth of our church now that I'm a bishop. They have been passionately serving God and the church with all that they have, but oftentimes, these were not fully recognized by the church,” she said. Read the full story at UMNews.org


Find all of UM News’s coverage of the 2022 episcopal elections of The United Methodist Church on this landing page.