Western Pennsylvania’s 2020 General and Jurisdictional Conference delegation has endorsed two candidates for Bishop -- Alyce Weaver Dunn, Conference Director of Connectional Ministries, and Robert Zilhaver, Connellsville District Superintendent. Rev. Dunn is the first woman to be endorsed by a Western PA delegation.
The endorsements were made at the February 15 delegation meeting after candidates who had been nominated through a process the delegation set up last Fall were interviewed by three groups of delegates. Each candidates submitted a biographical statement and a theological statement outlining their understanding of how their spiritual gifts would find expression through the role of a bishop.
Through an extended period of prayer and discernment, the delegation voted to endorse Zilhaver and Dunn, said Vicki Stahlman, a lay delegate who serves as vice-chair of the delegation and announced the endorsements.
Dunn, as the first elected clergy member of the delegation, currently serves as its chair and Zilhaver is secretary. Their names will be forwarded to the Annual Conference, which may, by vote, endorse one or both, or may consider endorsing other ordained elders.
Bishops are elected at Jurisdictional Conferences, held every four years in July. The number of bishops to be elected depends upon retirements of current bishops and the number of bishops allocated to each Jurisdiction by the General Council on Finance and Administration based on church membership. In the Northeastern Jurisdiction, two current bishops have indicated their intent to retire.
The delegation made its decision to endorse candidates fully aware that further developments in the life of the denomination may impact the election of bishops this summer, Stahlman said. However, she added, "the delegation is proud to recommend these two very gifted servants of God for consideration."
In addition to their leadership with the delegation, Zilhaver and Dunn have served together in various roles throughout their ministries. For 30 years, Dunn and her husband, the Rev. Keith Dunn, served as deans of a Music, Drama, and Creative Arts Camp at Wesley Woods, while Zilhaver and his wife Amy were deans of a Mini-Camp at there for 22 of those years.
When Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi appointed Zilhaver as superintendent of the Connellsville District in 2017, Dunn was the Johnstown District Superintendent and dean of the Cabinet. When her 8-year term as superintendent ended, she was appointed as Director of Connectional Ministries and continues to serve on the Coordinating Cabinet in that role.
Both have a passion for youth ministry and have served in leadership roles in Western Pennsylvania Conference and beyond. Both serve on boards of General Church agencies and as members of the General and Jurisdictional Conference delegations several times. Both also have been advocates for women in ministry.
Zilhaver was a delegate to the 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016 General and Jurisdictional Conferences. He serves on the executive committee of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW) and chairs its finance committee. Previously he served on the General Board of Discipleship and its Upper Room Division, as well as on the Division on Ministry with Young People representing adult workers.
Dunn was an alternate delegate to the 2004 Jurisdictional Conference, was part of the Jurisdictional delegation in 2008, and a Delegate to the General Conference in (2012; 2016; 2019; 2020). She served on the General Conference Committee on Reference in 2016 and 2019, currently is Vice-Chair of the NEJ Appeals Committee and serves on the Board of United Methodist Communications.
Read Rev. Alyce Weaver Dunn's biographical statement
See story on Rev. Robert Zilhaver