About Hope Morgan Ward
Hope Morgan Ward was elected a bishop of The United Methodist Church and appointed to Mississippi in 2004. She is believed to be the first woman to lead a mainline denomination in Mississippi and is only the second female bishop elected to serve in The United Methodist Church�s Southeastern Jurisdiction, which includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. As resident bishop, she is the shepherding leader of 190,000 United Methodists in 1,147 congregations across the state of Mississippi.
Before coming to Mississippi, Ward was superintendent of the Raleigh District in the North Carolina Annual Conference. She previously served as North Carolina Conference director of Connectional Ministries and as a local church pastor. In 10 years as pastor of Soapstone United Methodist Church in Raleigh, the church grew from 35 members to 600. Her approach to ministry is to �take the next faithful step.� She has been called a shepherd, teacher, evangelist, church builder, missioner, and connector.
Bishop Ward grew up in rural eastern North Carolina. She and her four siblings were the seventh generation to grow up on the Morgan family farm in Corapeake, N.C. She was nurtured in Parkers Methodist Church, one of three churches on the North Gates Charge. The Morgan family life was centered in the Wesleyan tradition with weekly worship, Sunday school, vacation Bible school, youth choir, youth fellowship, covered dish dinners, and mission projects.
Ward attended Duke University, earning her undergraduate degree in English. Upon graduation from Duke, she became youth director of Fairmont United Methodist Church in Raleigh, N.C., where she discovered love of ministry and mission. In 1974, she participated in her first volunteer in mission experience in Cochabamba and Montero, Bolivia. The next year, she returned to Bolivia with other work team volunteers, including Mike Ward! In this work team experience, they established a strong and lasting friendship that grew into a deep and lifelong love.
They were married in 1977, and both continued to pursue graduate study, Mike at North Carolina State University and Hope at Duke Divinity School. Married eight months, they became teaching parents for a group of children in residence at the Methodist Home for Children.
The Wards count their own children, Jason and Brooke, as their greatest blessing. Jason graduated summa cum laude from Duke University in 2001. He taught third and fourth grade in Ruleville, Miss., through Teach for America for two years before entering graduate school. Jason is working toward a Ph.D. in American History at Yale University. Brooke earned M.A. and M.A.T. degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and teaches English at Pender High School, near Wilmington, N.C.
Mike Ward has been a public school teacher, coach, principal, superintendent, and the founding director for the North Carolina Standards Board for Public School Administration. He served two four-year terms as Superintendent of Public Instruction for the state of North Carolina and is currently a professor of educational leadership in the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.
The Wards have deep roots in eastern North Carolina, loving the dark soil and watery coastal areas of the state. They also count the world as their home, serving together and individually in work team and mission endeavors in Central and South America, Africa, and the Middle East as well as in Appalachia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C. In 2005, they traveled with a group of Mississippians to Zimbabwe.