Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson (left) interprets Bishop Gregory V. Palmer's episcopal address into American Sign Language at the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore.

Introduction to the Council of Bishops

The Council of Bishops is made up of all active and retired bishops of The United Methodist Church. The Council meets twice a year. According to the Book of Discipline, "The Church expects the Council of Bishops to speak to the Church and from the Church to the world and to give leadership in the quest for Christian unity and interreligious relationships."[427.2]

In The United Methodist Church, a bishop serves as a general superintendent of the entire church. In the United Methodist tradition, bishops are not "ordained" as bishops, but are clergy elected and consecrated to the office of bishop. Bishops give general oversight to the worldly and spiritual interests of the Church.

Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar preaches on May 14 at the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore. Photo by Paul Jeffrey, UMNS.

Bishops are elected by one of the five jurisdictional conferences held every four years in the United States and by the central conferences outside of the U.S. Bishops in the U.S. are consecrated at the jurisdictional conference and are expected to report for work in their new areas on Sept. 1.

Bishops are assigned by their jurisdiction to serve a geographical area for a four-year term. There are 46 episcopal areas in the United States and 20 episcopal areas outside of the U.S.  Bishops and Episcopal Area Offices are grouped by Jurisdiction.

In an effort to provide stronger leadership across the denomination, United Methodist bishops recently voted to lengthen the term of their president and establish a permanent, staffed office. The president of the Council serves two years instead of the traditional one-year term.

The Executive Committee includes these additional officers: president-designate, secretary, executive secretary and ecumenical officer. The immediate past president also serves on the committee.

The executive secretary serves as chief operating officer for the Council. The executive secretary will be a retired bishop who serves a four-year term.

Officers of the Executive Committee are:
President: Kenneth Carter
President Designate: Cynthia Fierro Harvey
Secretary: Mande Muyombo
Executive Secretary: Marcus Matthews
Ecumenical Officer: B. Michael Watson
Immediate Past President: Bruce Ough

The Council's office is in the United Methodist Building, across the street from the Capitol and the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington D.C.