LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) — Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr., who leads the California-Nevada Conference, will be the next president of the Council of Bishops. Bishop Brown was ordained an elder in the Western PA Conference and served two Pittsburgh churches--Church of Our Savior from 1973-75 and Warren UMC from 1975-79--before transferring to California-Nevada.
Germany Area Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, now the council president, said Brown “really sees church unity as very challenging, but also very important as a sign of hope to the world.”
“He will help us to move on and journey together,” Wenner said. “He has a high sensitivity for the differences among people both in the U.S. and outside the U.S. I am very grateful he will succeed me.”
The late afternoon Nov. 13 brought a flurry of other elections. The council’s active bishops, by at least a two-thirds vote, also elected Dakotas-Minnesota Area Bishop Bruce R. Ough as the president-designate and Louisiana Area Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey as secretary.
By majority vote, they also elected Ohio West Area Bishop Gregory V. Palmer — a former Council of Bishops president — to deliver the episcopal address during the next General Conference. The denomination’s top lawmaking assembly will convene May 10-20, 2016 in Portland, Ore.
Brown will take office in May 2014, and Ough will receive the gavel during the 2016 General Conference. Harvey will begin her two-year term next summer.
Brown expressed joy at his election.
“It is my prayer that the work of the council be a place of faithfulness to the work of our mission (to make disciples),” Brown told the bishops. “Doing this involves all of us.”
He called on his fellow bishops “to build trust, to work together for the health of our church, to lead in ways that inspire and not just confuse.”
The council president is responsible for presiding over the bishops’ executive committee and the twice-yearly council meetings.
“I think the president of the council is really a servant of this body to remind us of the Christian conferencing that is at the core of our work together,” Brown said. He added that he hopes to help his fellow bishops as they pray for and strive to help the church.
Only General Conference — the denomination’s lawmaking assembly — can speak officially for The United Methodist Church. However, the council president sometimes is asked to speak to journalists and others within and outside the denomination on behalf of the bishops and church teachings. The president also often takes a leading role in council initiatives.
Brown was elected bishop by the Western Jurisdiction in July 2000. He first served in the Denver Area, which encompasses the Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone conferences. Since 2008, he has served the San Francisco Area, which encompasses the California-Nevada Conference.
Brown, a native of Baltimore, began preaching as a youth. He later served as a pastor in western Pennsylvania, a staff member for the California-Nevada Annual Conference, a pastor in Oakland and Bakersfield, Calif., and a district superintendent. He has a bachelor of arts in sociology from the University of Maryland and a master of divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington. Brown and his wife, Minnie Jones Brown, have three children.
Central Congo Area Bishop David K. Yemba described Brown’s election as “good news.”
“I think Bishop Brown has been a strong leader so far as the president-designate,” Yemba said. “I am sure he will do a good job in leading the leadership team of the Council of Bishops.”