C. Joseph Sprague

Bishop C. Joseph Sprague


United States

North Central Jurisdiction

cob_hs_sprague-150x225.jpg Bishop Charles Joseph Sprague is a Retired Bishop of The United Methodist Church, having served from 1996-2004.

Charles Joseph Sprague is a graduate of Ashland College (B.A.), the Methodist Theological School in Ohio (known at Methesco) (M.Div.), and is the recipient of honorary doctoral degrees from Kendall College, Ohio Wesleyan University, and the Chicago Theological Seminary. He is the recipient of the AFSC Courage of Conviction Award, the Rainbow Push Civil Rights/Peace Award, and the William Sloane Coffin Award for Justice and Peace. He is a co-author of a chapter in the seminary textbook, Pastor As Educator, and his book, Affirmations of a Dissenter, was published in December, 2002, by Abingdon Press.

Recognized for emphasizing internal spiritual nurture and external mission and justice-seeking outreach as vehicles for congregational renewal, Sprague was senior pastor of North Broadway United Methodist Church in Columbus, Ohio when elected to the episcopacy in 1996 by the North Central Jurisdiction. Previously, he had served county-seat, inner city, and university congregations. Additionally, he was Executive Director of both the Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Massachusetts Council of Churches. He has served as adjunct faculty at both Ohio United Methodist seminaries. Presently, he is a non-partisan organizer for voter registration in Ohio.

Prior to his election to the episcopacy, he was a delegate to four General Conferences of the United Methodist Church and five North Central Jurisdictional Conferences. It was his motion that established Communities of Shalom at the 1992 General Conference.

Elected to the episcopacy in 1996, Joe was assigned as Bishop of the Chicago Episcopal Area and the Northern Illinois Conference, Sept. 1, 1996, and completed his term of service there upon retirement, Sept. 1, 2004. Sprague served in the episcopacy after 27 years as a pastor and seven years as an ecumenical officer. He is known for combining biblical scholarship, personal piety, preaching and teaching with social justice ministries and commitments. Sought as a preacher and teacher, Sprague is a voice for peace, an inclusive church, racial justice and gender equality.

Joe and Diane Sprague are the parents of four children who, with their spouses, have given them nine grandchildren.