Sharon Rader

Bishop Sharon Rader


United States

North Central Jurisdiction


Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader is a Retired Bishop of The United Methodist Church, having served from 1992-2004. 

Sharon Zimmerman was born in Battle Creek, Michigan. She graduated from North Central College in 1961 with a B.A. degree in Elementary Education and taught in Michigan, Ohio, and New Jersey. During that time she did graduate work at the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University. She later graduated from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary. Adrian College conferred an honorary doctorate in 1989. She has been a trustee of Albion College, North Central College, and Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary.

Sharon was ordained deacon in the Detroit Conference by Bishop Dwight Loder, and elder in the Northern Illinois Conference by Bishop Paul Washburn. She served as Pastor at Mayfair UMC, Chicago; Baseline UMC, Battle Creek, Michigan and University UMC, East Lansing, Michigan. From 1981-1986, she was a member of the West Michigan Conference Program staff with responsibilities for Global Ministries, New Church Development, and advocacy groups. At the time of her election to the episcopacy, she was the Grand Rapids (Michigan) District Superintendent.

Sharon was elected to the 1980 North Central Jurisdictional Conference and to the 1984, 1988, and 1992 General and Jurisdictional Conferences. She served on the General Council on Ministries (where she chaired the Division on Research, Planning and Futuring); the General Commission on Communications; the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry; and for two years worked for the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women as the developer of a Talent Bank of Women in the United Methodist Church.

Sharon Zimmerman Rader was elected to the episcopacy by the North Central Jurisdictional Conference in 1992 and assigned to the Wisconsin Area. Bishop Zimmerman has served in the following roles:

  • 1996-2004 Secretary of the Council of Bishops.
  • 2004-2008 Executive Secretary for the Connectional Table.
  • 2008-2012 Ecumenical Officer for the Council of Bishops

She retired as an active bishop in 2008 and is currently Bishop-in-Residence at Garrett Evangelical Seminary. 

Sharon and Blaine Rader are the parents of Matthew and Mary, and the grandparents of Ethan and Abigail Rader and Jasper and Zimm Davis.