Lake Junaluska, North Carolina – At this week’s Council of Bishop’s meeting in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, Louisiana Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey was elected president-designate for the council.
“I am honored by this election,” said Harvey. “This is a critical time in our life and our work and I am humbled to represent the whole church. These are anxious times that call for non-anxious leadership and it is important that we remain strong and steady and lead with the confidence that God is still creating, recreating and still transforming."
The council’s president and president-designate each serve two-year terms and the responsibility for Harvey would begin May 2018 and she would, pending confirmation by the Council of Bishops in the fall of 2019, assume the office of president at the conclusion of General Conference 2020. Until that time, Harvey will continue to serve as the Council of Bishop’s secretary, her current role, until May of 2018 and remain on the executive committee.
The current president-designate, Kenneth H. Carter, bishop of the Florida Conference, will take over for current president Bruce R. Ough, bishop of the Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area.
The council president presides over the group’s executive committee and semiannual council meetings and often takes a leading role in council initiatives. The council president does not speak for The United Methodist Church; however, he or she is sometimes called to comment on various church teachings in mass communications in and outside of the denomination.
In her remarks following the vote, Bishop Harvey reflected on what it might mean to lead in the midst of anxious times. She shared the story of how birds actually use the eye of a hurricane as they migrate. As the birds fly toward their destination, they choose to fly inside the calm of the storm, staying inside the eye of a hurricane, as opposed to fighting the strong winds.
“It is vitally important that we lead from the Center, from the calm in the storm. In order to do so, we must be strong and courageous; physically and especially spiritually,” she said.
The United Methodist Council of Bishops is made up of all active and retired bishops in the church. There are 46 episcopal areas in the U.S. and 20 outside the U.S.
Serving on the council is nothing new for Harvey. For the past four years, she has served as secretary for the Council and has regularly attended the meetings.
Eight members of the Leadership Discernment Committee, made up of one bishop from each of the five U.S. jurisdictions and three Central Conference bishops, presented the slate to the council.
The Council of Bishops consists of bishops from across the United Methodist connection (US, Asia, Africa, Europe). The diversity of the group isn’t lost on Harvey, “This is such a diverse group of thinkers and, in many ways, that diversity reflects the whole of the church,” she said. “We are called to hold the whole and it is both a challenge and a privilege.”
Others elected last week include Mande Muyombo, North Katanga-Tanzania bishop, as Secretary of the Council.
Harvey was elected bishop in July 2012 at the South Central Jurisdictional Conference and began serving the Louisiana Conference.