Taylor assigned as Holston's first female bishop, Swanson as Mississippi's first black bishop

Taylor assigned as Holston's first female bishop, Swanson as Mississippi's first black bishop

The Rev. Carol Wilson, executive assistant to the bishop, meets with Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor on the morning after her assignment to Holston.

Holston Conference received its first female bishop July 19 when Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor was assigned to her home conference during the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference

Taylor, 62, left Holston after her 2004 election to serve as resident bishop of the South Carolina Conference. She is a former Cleveland District superintendent, former chair of Holston's Board of Ordained Ministry, and Holston delegate to six General Conferences.

"Rusty and I love Holston Conference," Taylor said, referring to her husband, the Rev. Rusty Taylor. "Holston has molded me and made me, and through God's wonderful surprise, I get to come back as Holston's episcopal leader. I am very humbled and honored to be with the people of Holston."

Bishop James Swanson, who served Holston as resident bishop for eight years after his own 2004 election, was assigned to the Mississippi Conference. He is the conference's first black United Methodist bishop.

The Rev. David Graves, endorsed by Holston Conference as a nominee for bishop, withdrew from the election earlier in the day on July 19 after failing to take the lead in 23 ballots. (See Graves' letter to Holston.)

Although traditionally unusual for bishops to be assigned to their home conferences, Taylor's appointment was one of three such new assignments in this year's SEJ Conference. Bishop-elect Young Jin Cho was assigned to his home conference of Virginia. Bishop Hope Morgan Ward returns to North Carolina after eight years in Mississippi.

The episcopal assignments are effective Sept. 1.  

Also during the July 18-20 meeting of 15 annual conferences at Lake Junaluska, N.C.: Anne Travis was elected secretary of the SEJ Conference, following outgoing secretary Brad Brady. Travis is Holston's director of connectional ministries.

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