North Georgia Conference Celebrates Assignment of Bishop Dease With Service of Installation


In the name of Jesus Christ, the Head of the church, I gladly assume, with you and among you, this ministry of Word, Sacrament, and Order, of pastoral supervision, government, and service. Strengthened by the love of God and the remembrance of my consecration to the episcopacy, I am resolved to serve faithfully and well the congregations and people of the North Georgia Conference as bishop, pastor, and friend.


On Sunday, January 8, the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church welcomed Bishop Robin Dease in a joyful service of installation at Oak Grove United Methodist Church in Decatur. 

North Georgia United Methodists and guests worshiped with song, scripture, prayer, communion, and presentations. This installation marked a historic moment in the life of the church, as Bishop Dease is the first African-American bishop assigned to the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Bishop Dease preached her first sermon to her new Annual Conference, "I Dream a Church." 

"Jesus prayed that we might all be one," said Bishop Dease. "As we gather in this sacred space sharing in this slice of history, there’s no way I can stand before you and not acknowledge the spirit of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that hovers all over Georgia. His legacy, his history, his prophetic witness."

He, like Jesus, prayed and preached that we might all be one, she explained. 

"I too dream and pray," she said. "But I dream a church."

She went on to share some of those dreams. 
I dream a church
... where we will not just read the Bible but live the Bible. If Jesus is lord of our lives we’ll do what Jesus says to do.
... where justice will roll down like waters where the haves and the have-nots will have room at the table of grace.
... where we give grace when someone needs and we receive grace when we need it.

"And Jesus Christ is Lord of all," she said.

"I’m aware that division is a winning formula for some," she said. But that is not the way of the church, she explained. "The United Methodist Church is called to proclaim by word and deed the unifying love of a living God. Oneness in God through Christ produces love, it does not erase individuality or diversity."

"We’ve got to pray," said Bishop Dease. "Lord take the North Georgia Conference, we your humble servants, remold us and make us like thee."

Worship participants included four United Methodist bishops, host pastor Rev. Dr. Beth LaRocca Pitts, North Georgia United Methodist clergy and laity, youth delegates to Annual Conference, members of the bishop's cabinet, talented musicians, denominational leaders, leaders of our United Methodist agencies, leaders of our United Methodist Higher Education institutions, our lay leader, conference committee members, and precious children.

Musicians included a mass choir, directed by John Cowden of Oak Grove, made up of choir members from churches around the Conference. Oak Grove's modern worship leader Atticus Hicks and North Georgia Conference clergyperson Rev. Tavares Stephens wrote and performed an original anthem for the service titled "Beloved."

During the service, we got to know Bishop Dease through the affirmations of her colleagues and friends. 

"First and foremost, Bishop Dease is a called servant of God," said Executive Assistant to the Bishop Rev. Dr. Terry Walton. "She desires for us to move from an 'us and them' mentality to a 'we' mentality and she will lead by example. She commits to lead in ways that are collaborative, visionary, and just. We are fortunate God sent Bishop Dease our way." 

Hearing from Bishop Jonathan Holston was particularly meaningful. Elected bishop out of the North Georgia Conference in 2012, Bishop Holston was assigned to serve in the South Carolina Annual Conference. The first person he appointed to his cabinet was none other than the Rev. Dr. Robin Dease. She served on his cabinet for eight years. 

"Saying goodbye and hello is a spiritual discipline," said Bishop Holston. "A never-ending pilgrimage, a continuous cycle. Not something to be mastered, rather something to be lived. Today I have a mixture of excitement and sadness."

"This leader was chosen for such a time as this," he continued. "You are beneficiaries of a great leader. She knows leadership is a behavior and not a position" 

Dr. Dwaun Warmack, president of Claflin University, shared that Bishop Dease is the first bishop elected out of the South Carolina Conference since 2004. She is the first African American woman to serve as lead pastor of a predominantly white large church, he said. "Being associated with 'the first' is nothing new to Bishop Robin Dease," he said. 

During the service an offering of more than $2400 was received for United Methodist-related Murphy-Harpst Children's Centers. Contributions may still be made at

The North Georgia Conference extends deep gratitude to the clergy, staff, and congregation of Oak Grove UMC who provided leadership, exhibited generosity, shared their talents, and offered gracious hospitality. 

Watch the service, find a recording of the sermon, and see photos from the day at