Jonathan Keaton

Bishop Jonathan Keaton


United States

North Central Jurisdiction


Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton is a retired Bishop of The United Methodist Church, having served from 1996-2016.

He was assigned to serve as episcopal leader of the Illinois Area of the United Methodist Church September 1, 2012 until he retired. From 2004-2012, he served as the resident bishop of the Michigan Area, which includes the Detroit and West Michigan Conferences. Prior to Michigan he served as the resident bishop of the Ohio East Area for eight years.

Bishop Keaton was elected to the Episcopacy in 1996 after serving as the district superintendent of the Aurora District in the Northern Illinois Annual Conference. Prior to that, he was an Associate Council Director in Northern Illinois. Bishop Keaton also served two churches: Broadway UMC in Rockford, Ill. and St. Luke UMC in Chicago, Ill. Bishop Keaton was elected to three General Conference delegations with the Northern Illinois Conference.

Bishop Keaton has served as a member of the General Council on Ministries from 1988-1996; the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry from 2009-2012. Bishop Keaton chaired the denominational initiative, Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century (SBC-21) from 1996-2008.  Bishop Keaton is serving as a member of the Council of Bishop’s Leadership Team on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations.

Bishop Keaton graduated with a Master of Divinity Studies from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary where he later received a Doctorate in Sacred Theology. Bishop Keaton received his Bachelor of Science in Biology degree from Philander Smith College.

Bishop Keaton has co-authored two books, “The Confessions of Three Ebony Bishops" with Bishop Edsel A. Ammons and Bishop Ernest S. Lyght and “Our Father, Where Are the Fathers?” with Bishop Ernest S. Lyght.

Bishop Keaton and his wife, Beverly, have been blessed with three children: Jonathan II and his wife Lisa reside in Illinois with the Bishop and Mrs. Keaton’s two granddaughters, Maliah and Amara.