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There are not enough words in the English vocabulary to express the depth of my gratitude to all who have offered support to Lynn and me across the last 18 months. As we considered and prayed about the dangerous opportunity of being a bishop in the United Methodist Church, so many people have supported our journey.
Without the support of our family, especially our children, Chris and Laura and their spouses, Millie and Nate, I don’t think we could have endured this long year. My parents, Roy and Lorene, and my sister Debbie and my brother Steve have always been there to pick me up and encourage me. Thank you all for believing in me.
To the Mississippi Conference for trusting me with the gift of leadership and the opportunity to serve an Episcopal nominee and for the many, many prayers you have offered as well as words of encouragement.
To Jimmy Carr, John Moore, Lisa Garvin, John Garrott,, Connie Shelton, Steve Casteel, and Anthony Thaxton, who have guided me in conversation and support this year in the many details of this journey.
To the pastors and laity of the Seashore District who have helped shape me as a leader—you have been an encouragement and a great gift. You have taught me well.
To the Mississippi Delegation, for standing beside me on this journey. You'll never know how much your support has meant to me. Especially to you, Joe May. You are a good man, and I thank you.
Most importantly to God, who called me, shaped me, jerked me around, and sent me out, I give thanks and praise. To God be the glory.
Bill McAlilly, July 19, 2012
BY JESSICA CONNOR and JEROME SMITH
July 18, 2012 Lake Junaluska, N.C.
The Rev. William T. McAlilly of the Mississippi Annual (regional) Conference has been elected a bishop by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference of The United Methodist Church.
McAlilly, 55, superintendent of Mississippi’s Seashore District since the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, was elected July 18 on the fifth ballot by jurisdictional conference delegates.
On Sept. 1, he will become one of 13 active bishops in the Southeastern Jurisdiction, which includes 15 annual (regional) conferences. Delegates to the 2012 jurisdictional conferences will elect a total of 11 United Methodist bishops, five of which will come from the Southeastern Jurisdiction.
McAlilly is the third bishop to be elected by the Southeastern Jurisdition.
A consecration service for the new bishops will be held at 10 a.m. July 20 in Stuart Auditorium at Lake Junaluska Assembly. Geographical assignments for the jurisdiction’s bishops will be announced earlier that day.
Unanimously endorsed by the Mississippi Conference, McAlilly received 278 of the 440 votes cast.
“Most of you know I have lived by John 14:12 these last months, when Jesus said to Philip, ‘if you simply put your trust in me, greater things will you do than I have done,’” McAlilly told the body after his election. “I believe The United Methodist Church is the greatest church in the Kingdom of God, and we just need to tell our story and lift the spirits of the people, and we will do the things God is calling us to do in the future.”
McAlilly praised his family and his annual conference for what he called “the greatest support system in the Kingdom of God.”
A delegate to five Jurisdictional and four General conferences, McAlilly led the 2012 Mississippi delegation. He has served in a wide variety of ministry settings all leading to congregational growth, from a small congregation in the Mississippi Delta, to a new church start in the suburbs of Memphis, to a new congregation in Madison, Miss., where the membership grew from 550 to 1,200 during his six-year ministry.
After his appointment to the Seashore District in 2006, many homes and churches were rebuilt and restored. Working closely with UMCOR, he was involved in improving hurricane preparedness through the construction of buildings to store supplies and to provide housing for United Methodist volunteers.
He serves as a member of the Holy Conferencing Task Force leading toward General Conference 2012 and was a contributor to the book “The Gift of Unity,” edited by Bishop Scott Jones.
McAlilly was educated at Millsaps College where he received the Pendergrass Medal for Preaching and earned a Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology, Emory University.
McAlilly is married to Lynn Barkley, a public school teacher. They have two grown children: Chris, a pastor in the Mississippi Conference, and Laura, on staff at Servants in Faith and Technology, an International Training Center and mission camp in Lineville, Ala.
A United Methodist bishop in the United States is elected for life and, although eight years is the standard term for a bishop to serve in an episcopal area, it is not unusual for a bishop to be assigned to one area for 12 years for “missional reasons.”
Bishops are charged by the church’s Book of Discipline to “lead and oversee the spiritual and temporal affairs” of the church and to “guard, transmit, teach and proclaim, corporately and individually, the apostolic faith as it is expressed in Scripture and tradition, and, as they are led and endowed by the Spirit, to interpret that faith evangelically and prophetically.”
A jurisdictional conference has the following power and duties:
The United Methodist Church was created in 1968 by a merger of the Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist churches. Methodists elected their bishops at one national gathering until 1940, when the jurisdictional system was instituted. Bishops in the EUB church were elected at one national gathering until 1968.
Jessica Connor is the editor of the Advocate for the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church.