An Oklahoman has made history as the first Native American to be elected to the position of bishop in the United Methodist Church, the nation’s second largest Protestant denomination.
The Rev. David Wilson was elected as bishop in the denomination’s South Central Jurisdictional Conference on Wednesday at the jurisdiction’s meeting in Houston. The denomination’s South Central Jurisdiction includes Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri and portions of Texas.
Wilson, 59, a member of the Choctaw Nation, currently serves as assistant to the bishop of the Oklahoma United Methodist Conference and Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, based in Oklahoma City.
“It is an honor to be elected by folks who recognized the need to not only elect an Indigenous person, but one they believed is qualified to do this work,” Wilson told The Oklahoman on Thursday. “I am excited about this new role and look forward to being a bishop to all wherever I am appointed. It is an exciting time in the life of the United Methodist Church and I am thankful to be a part of this history.”
The Rev. Joseph Harris, assistant to the bishop of the Oklahoma United Methodist Conference and the conference’s communication’s director, said Wilson’s election, along with that of two women, was a highlight of Wednesday’s gathering in Houston.
“He will do well wherever we appoint him so there was just a lot of history that was made yesterday ― history for a new church,” Harris said. “Because of disaffiliations and other things, the United Methodist Church will be a different church moving forward and these will be some of the new leaders that will help us move forward.”
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