Bishop John Russell
South Central Jurisdiction
John Russell was born in Abilene, Texas. He did his college work at Oklahoma City University (B.A.); his alma mater honored him with a D.D. degree in 1968 and a distinguished alumnus award in 1980, where he was Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees. He holds a L.H.D. from Texas Wesleyan College (1987).
John was ordained deacon and elder by Bishop W. Angie Smith, and became a full member of the Oklahoma Annual Conference after graduation from Perkins School of Theology. He did additional study at the Graduate Seminary at Phillips University where he also taught United Methodist polity.
After serving relatively smaller churches, Dr. Russell spent twenty years as pastor of some of United Methodism's largest congregations (Village Church, Oklahoma City; First Church, Enid; Boston Avenue, Tulsa), with an interim appointment as District Superintendent of the Tulsa District.
John Russell was delegate to the General Conferences of 1976 and 1980 and to the South Central Jurisdictional Conference of 1972. He was active in conference affairs, serving as Chairman of the Board of Ordained Ministry, as well as civic organizations. He gave the Britt Lectures in Honolulu in 1980. He was a member of the General Council on Finance and Administration; Board of Trustees, Southern Methodist University, and is on some boards at other institutions.
The South Central Jurisdictional Conference elected John Russell to the episcopacy in 1980 and he was assigned to the Dallas-Fort Worth Area. In 1988 he was assigned to the newly created Fort Worth Area where he served until his retirement in 1992.
Mary Jean Garrett and John Russell were married the day after Christmas in 1947, while both were still in college. John and Mary Jean were married for 71 years, ending only upon Mary Jean's death the day after their anniversary in 2018. The union was blessed with three children: Mary Margaret, Deborah Ann and John Garrett (who passed in 1982).