Bishop-elect Mike McKee makes eye contact with his wife, Joan, as he is escorted to the stage after his election in the South Central Jurisdiction.
Bishop John Russell, left, and Bishop Mike Lowry, right, escort Bishop-elect Mke McKee to the stage following his election.
The Rev. Mike McKee, senior minister of First United Methodist Church in Hurst, Texas, has been elected as a United Methodist bishop by delegates at the South Central Jurisdictional Conference.
McKee was elected Friday, July 20, at the jurisdiction’s quadrennial meeting in downtown Oklahoma City. On the 23rd ballot, he received 186 of 256 votes cast.
“My passion has been effectiveness in terms of clergy,” McKee said. “I would hope to continue to find ways to mentor clergy, and not just young clergy.”
In his 16 years on the Board of Ordained Ministry he said he has learned that there are many ways to be effective. What he’s found to be important is that clergy are open to continuous learning and growing. As a local church pastor, he has had the opportunity to have a number of interns from Perkins School of Theology.
“I’ve often learned more from them than they have from me,” he said.
He said he supports efforts to hold clergy, congregations and bishop accountable, and the church’s recent focus on structure as a way to change the church may not be the most helpful way to achieve change.
“One of the learnings may be the ministry of the church really happens in local churches and local places,” McKee said. “Structure may not be the best place for our focus to be.”
McKee was the third bishop elected by the 256 delegates, an equal number of United Methodist clergy and laity, from the eight states that form the South Central Jurisdiction. The assignments of bishops in the South Central Jurisdiction for the next four years will be announced later in the week. His four-year term of service begins Sept. 1.
McKee also is passionate about the development of laity and their spiritual lives.
“I’ve learned that laity really want to be challenged about their faith,” he said.
McKee said he wants to work to help clergy and laity work together to discover the many different ways to encounter the Holy Spirit in their lives.
McKee, nominated by the Central Texas Annual (regional) Conference, currently serves as chair of the conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry and chair of long-range planning for the Texas Methodist Foundation. He has served as a delegate to the 2008 and 2012 General Conferences, the denomination’s top lawmaking body, and is a delegate to the 2012 South Central Jurisdiction.
McKee said he plans to spend time listening and learning about his new assignment once he finds out where that will be.
“I never have gone into a church with a plan for what I would do in my first year,” he said.
His previous appointments include experience as an associate pastor Richland Hills United Methodist Church and First United Methodist Church in Fort Worth. He also served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Joshua and Meadowbrook United Methodist Church in Fort Worth before being appointed to the Hurst congregation in 1997.
He received a Founders Award from Trinity Area Habitat for Humanity in 2007, and the Bishop’s Award in Preaching from the Central Texas Conference in 2010. He is a graduate of Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology.
A consecration service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, July 21, at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City. The ceremony can be watched live at the South Central Jurisdiction’s website.
Within the United States, local United Methodist churches are organized into increasingly larger groups: numerous districts, dozens of annual conferences and five jurisdictions (regions). Ten active bishops now lead the 15 annual conferences that form the South Central Jurisdiction. By Jan. 1, 2014, there will be 12 annual conferences as Kansas East, Kansas West and Nebraska form the Great Plains Annual Conference and the Rio Grande and Southwest Texas conferences come together to form another annual conference.
A United Methodist bishop in the United States is elected for life. Typically, a bishop will serve in a specific annual conference for eight years. The United Methodist Book of Discipline, the denomination’s law book, directs each bishop to “guard the faith, order, liturgy, doctrine, and discipline of the Church” and to “lead all persons entrusted to their oversight in worship, in the celebration of the sacraments, and in their mission of witness and service in the world.” Bishops also are to be “prophetic voices and courageous leaders in the cause of justice for all people.”
The states represented in this jurisdiction are: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.