Bishop Delores J. Williamston Receives Seminary Award

David Burke
May 16, 2023


LEAWOOD — She may have received the distinguished graduate award from Saint Paul School of Theology this year, but Bishop Delores J. Williamston says her time in seminary was almost over before it started. 

She took an Introduction to Ministry course, which she thought would be the basics, but went far beyond what she was expecting. 

“I did not understand what he was talking about,” she repeated several times. 

She mistook the word ontology (the nature of being) with oncology (the study and treatment of tumors) — “I was like, ‘Wait a doggone moment – when did God get cancer?’” Bishop Williamston recalled of her intro course in 2003. 

And in her first term paper for the class, she received an F, and she “marched on down to the professor’s office,” to talk with Rev. Robert Martin. 

“What he was looking for me to write was not what I understood,” she said. 

She reworked the paper, which earned an A. 

A Topeka native, Bishop Williamston returned to Kansas for the commencement ceremonies at Resurrection, a United Methodist Church, after beginning work as the bishop of the Louisiana Conference in January. The former director of clergy excellence and assistant to the bishop of the Great Plains Conference was voted into the episcopacy in a historic election in November as the first Black female bishop in the South Central Jurisdiction. 

She was installed as bishop in a lively ceremony in New Orleans in March

“I was there, and let me tell you folks from the Midwest,” Saint Paul President Rev. Neil Blair said, “If you want to see a celebration with fire, spice, something unique, go to the South, especially Louisiana, and watch them bring in the bishop. It was so extraordinary. I was pleased I was there.” 

Bishop Williamston told the 2023 graduates that even though they had completed seminary, God wasn’t through with them. 

“You can now vision forward in your ministry but guess what?” she asked. “God ain’t done with you yet.” 

The hard times we now face — including gun control, physical and mental health, political and social conflict, war, poverty, artificial intelligence, and homelessness — is proof that God isn’t done with the graduates, she said. 

“Today is when your journey pivots to the next gleaning that God has for you,” she said. 

Bishop Williamston, who oversees 486 congregations and 118,725 members in the Louisiana Conference, said the graduates should savor their first ministerial assignments. 

“Embrace the communities you are a part of, and remember, God ain’t done with you yet,” she said. 

Blair, president of the seminary since 2016, will retire at the end of the calendar year and was officiating over his final commencement. 

“I have been blessed by my years in this role to this family,” he said. 




Found an issue with this page? Click here to let us know.