(Nov. 18, 2015) Jackson, Miss.—The Mississippi Annual Conference delegation to the General and Southeastern Jurisdictional conferences has unanimously endorsed the Rev. Stephen Sparks as a candidate for the office of bishop.
Rev. Stephen Sparks
Sparks, 44, is the pastor of Indianola First United Methodist Church in Indianola, Mississippi. He is a graduate of The University of Mississippi at Oxford, where he received a bachelor’s degree in general engineering and his Juris Doctor degree. Sparks holds a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary.
He and his wife, Holly have been married 10 years. They have three children—Andrew, age 8, Anna Claire, age 6 and Amelia Rae, age 4.
“The Mississippi delegation is thrilled beyond words and unanimously endorsed Rev. Stephen Sparks as our episcopal nominee. It was a prayerful decision and one that we know God directed. Rev. Sparks is an energetic loving pastor who cares very deeply for laity and clergy and he wants to continue to help move The United Methodist Church in the direction God is calling it to move in. We ask all Mississippi United Methodists to pray for Rev. Sparks and his family as he embarks upon this journey," said Timothy Crisler, chair of the delegation and Mississippi Annual Conference lay leader.
“As the delegation met on Saturday, November 14, 2015 and chose Rev. Stephen Sparks as our episcopal candidate, I was happy to see the affirming nods around the table. Stephen's strong work ethic, his quest for knowledge and his high energy level will serve us, the Mississippi Annual Conference, very well as he seeks God's will for the people called Methodist,” said Mattie Gipson, vice chair of the delegation and Greenwood District superintendent.
"I am deeply humbled and incredibly honored that the Mississippi delegation saw within me—talents, gifts and graces that they felt called to offer to the worldwide United Methodist Church through this endorsement. I will do all that I can through this process to honor and live up to the long line of incredible leaders from Mississippi that I have had the great fortune of learning from. I thank you all for your friendship and I ask that you continually lift me and my family up in your daily prayers as we set forth on this journey together," said Sparks.
Bishops are elected by the jurisdictional conferences in the United States. The Mississippi Conference is in the Southeastern Jurisdiction (SEJ). The SEJ Conference will meet July 13-15, 2016 at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.