Bishop Delores J. Williamston Assigned to Louisiana

November 03, 2022


Bishop Delores J. Williamston will be the new bishop of the Louisiana Annual Conference on Jan. 1, 2023

(Nov. 3, 2022) –Bishop Delores J. Williamston, a Kansas Army National Guard veteran and Methodist church administrator, will be assigned to the Louisiana Annual Conference. She will be the first African-American bishop of the Louisiana Conference.

Williamston, who serves as director of clergy excellence and assistant to the bishop in the Great Plains Conference of the UMC, and also pastored four churches since 2002, will officially become the Louisiana Conference bishop on Jan. 1, 2023. Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, who has been serving the Louisiana Conference since 2012, has been assigned to the Texas Conference.

“I’m so looking forward to Louisiana and getting to know more about the culture, people, food, and of course, church and community,” Williamston said.

Harvey, who will lead UMC churches in the Houston area, called Williamston "a passionate, faithful follower of Jesus Christ. She will be an extraordinary leader for the Louisiana Conference. I know you will receive her with the same love and Louisiana hospitality you extended to me and to my family."

Williamston, 57, was one of three people elected as bishop on Wednesday at the UMC’s South Central Jurisdictional Conference in Houston, attended by delegates from Louisiana, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. On Thursday, she was named the 11th bishop of the Louisiana Annual Conference, where she will lead 486 congregations and 118,725 members of the United Methodist Church.

In a news conference after her election but before she was assigned to Louisiana, Williamston said she has her “combat boots ready that I used as a soldier” to “make disciples of Jesus Christ to transform the world right now because we have what we need right now to do that, regardless of what’s going on.”

"I’m very excited to welcome Bishop Williamston to the Louisiana Annual Conference," said Rev. Brady Whitton, who chairs the Louisiana delegation. "Bishop Williamston's historic election at the South Central Jurisdiction was an overwhelming affirmation of her gifts and graces by the whole body. I am excited about what the future holds with Bishop Williamston as our episcopal leader." 

"I am so excited for the historic appointment of Bishop Delores Williamston to the Louisiana Conference," said Rev. Karli Pidgeon, a Louisiana delegate and District Superintendent in Louisiana. "Her unique gifts and experiences will provide the critical leadership we need to continue navigating the bright future of the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church." 

Growing up in Kansas, Williamston “did not see people who looked like me working in particular places. So, there was no representation to even think that you could be like the CEO of that bank, or you could work in that mall, that grocery store.” She said the significance of being an African-American female bishop is to show that “the door has been opened, and the door should remain open for others, so other little girls, little black girls, can aspire to be bishops or elders and bankers or community organizers.”

When she was 16, Williamston dropped out of high school and joined the Kansas Army National Guard. During her 22-year career In the National Guard, she earned a General Education Diploma and a bachelor’s degree in Management and Christian Ethics before retiring as a sergeant first class.

In 2002, Williamston began work as a part-time local pastor in Kansas, and she received a Master of Divinity from St. Paul School of Theology in 2007, when she became an elder. She was named a district superintendent in the Great Plains Conference in 2014 before her selection as director of clergy excellence and assistant to the bishop in 2021.

Williamston, a breast cancer survivor, has one son and seven grandchildren, whom she referenced in her remarks. She said it was important for her grandchildren “who are cross-racial – their mother is white, my son looks like me – to see their grandmother, and that their grandmother can be a catalyst for change, that they too can achieve and aspire to do great things in their lives and the careers that they will embark upon.”

The Louisiana delegates to the 2022 South Central Jurisdictional Conference are laity members Sarah Kreutiziger, Jenn Swann, Nettles Brown, Margaret Washington, Adam Philley, and Deborah Todd; and clergy members Brady Whitton, Karli Pidgeon, Katie McKay Simpson, John Cannon, Matt Rawle, Simon Chigumira; and alternates Marissa Teauseau Horvath and Ellen Alston.
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