On July 16 newly consecrated Bishop David A. Bard was assigned to The Michigan Area. Michigan United Methodists respond.
Senior Editor-Writer, Michigan Area
PEORIA, Illinois July 16, 2016 – On Saturday of the North Central Jurisdictional Conference the action moved from seats in the Peoria Civic Center to pews in the Peoria First United Methodist Church. There delegates witnessed, first-hand, who their episcopal leader will be come September 1, 2016.
The Michigan delegates, along with all in the congregation, heard Dr. Maggie Jackson, Chair of the Episcopacy Committee, announce: “Michigan Area …Bishop David Alan Bard.”
The full story of the worship service, including the sermon by Bishop Michael J. Coyner, may be read here.
During the reception that followed the Consecration Service, the Rev. John Boley, West Michigan Reserve Delegate and new Assistant to the Bishop of The Michigan Area noted, “David Bard is going to be a gift to us. He is coming in with lots of experience and the kind of personality that we are going to build on. We will be blessed by his presence.”
“I am extremely excited that David Bard has been appointed to our Conference. I think he will continue the energy that Bishop Deb has started as we come together as a new conference,” said Jackie Euper, Detroit Lay Delegate and member of the North Central Jurisdiction’s Episcopacy Committee. “I think he has the skills and the vision to do what we need to have done in Michigan,” Euper concluded.
The Rev. Benton Heisler, another person who participated in the decision to bring Bishop Bard to Michigan added, “I feel the people of Michigan have been blessed with an excellent new episcopal leader. His infectious smile, strategic thinking, collaborative approach and compassionate spirit will be gifts for us all.” A West Michigan Clergy Delegate, Heisler was brought into the process as an alternate when Episcopacy Committee member Laurie Haller left that role upon her election as bishop.
Earlier in the week on July 13 the West Michigan and Detroit Conference delegates participated in the Rev. Dr. David A. Bard’s election. Read story here. Minnesota’s first nominee to be elected bishop, Bard gained the 60% of the votes he needed on the10th ballot, taken Wednesday evening. He immediately took a seat among the North Central College of Bishops. Learn more about David Bard’s life and vision here.
Assignments for all nine bishops of the North Central Jurisdiction are as follows:
Dakotas-Minnesota: Bishop Bruce R. Ough; East Ohio: Bishop Tracy S. Malone; Illinois Great Rivers: Bishop Frank J. Beard; Indiana: Bishop Julius C. Trimble; Iowa: Bisshop Laurie A. Haller; Michigan: Bishop David A. Bard; Northern Illinois: Bishop Sally Dyck; West Ohio: Bishop Gregory V. Palmer; and Wisconsin: Bishop Hee-Soo Jung.
Just as these five episcopal leaders and Areas embark on a fresh start in these new assignments, the North Central College of Bishops itself moves into a new beginning with nearly 50% turn-over in leadership.
Four NCJ bishops enter retirement in 2016: Bishop Michael J. Coyner (IN); Bishop John L. Hopkins (EO); Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton (IL-GR); and Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey (MI). Bishop Deb goes home to retirement in Iowa with joy saying, “I am thrilled to have Bishop Bard coming to Michigan. You’ll fall in love with him. And he will fall in love with you. He is relational. He is a gentle soul. He’s creative. He’s a good listener. He is just going to help Michigan move where it wants to go.”
The 2016 North Central Jurisdictional Conference ended with a reception for its spiritual leaders. Ruby Anderson was one of those attending the reception. Ruby, a Detroit Lay Delegate said with enthusiasm, “I am excited! God makes no mistakes. I greeted Bishop Bard yesterday and his wife, Julie. Today is just a wonderful, warm confirmation that all is in order.”
Nichea Ver Veer Guy, head of the West Michigan Delegation, called Bishop Bard, “an exciting, open-minded, warm, genuine person,” and asserted, “it is going to be a great ride.” The Rev. Megan Walther was impressed with Bishop Bard’s words shared during nominee forums and noted, “It sounds like he is a leader who will listen and we need that right now.” The Rev. Joel Walther, a Minnesotan, added, “I just think that more Minnesota in Michigan will always be better.”
Alex Plum, another Lay Delegate from Detroit experienced a flashback moment during Saturday ceremonies. “I remember in 2004 standing next to the late Rev. Terry Gladstone when David Bard first ran for the episcopacy. He was Terry’s favorite candidate.” Plum spoke of a special joy he felt on July 16, 2016, “not just for what I know about what Bishop Bard will contribute to The Michigan Area. But it is beautiful to see the legacy and hope for the church, that Terry saw, now come to fruition for Michigan.”
Detroit Conference Clergy Delegate and Deacon Laura Speiran had a unique perspective on the Consecration Service as a participant. “It was such a thrill to be representing all Deacons in the Jurisdiction helping with Communion and the hand-washing. I remember thinking to myself, ‘this is a once in a lifetime opportunity that will never happen again for me.’ I just wanted to enjoy it.”
Laura Witkowski is a first-time Reserve Lay Delegate for West Michigan, present in Portland for General Conference in May and now in Peoria participating in the election of leaders. Laura summed up the mood of many from Michigan when she stated, “I am an emotional wreck. The Consecration Service was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen! We are very proud of Bishop Laurie and Bishop Deb and really excited about Bishop David Bard. I feel that over the last couple of months I have seen the highs and lows of the United Methodist Church and this is a high.”