Sharma Lewis, Sue Haupert-Johnson Among Five Bishops Consecrated at Lake Junaluska


By Sybil Davidson

"With joy and with God's grace I present to you our new bishops!" said Bishop Larry Goodpaster.

Five new United Methodist bishops were consecrated in The United Methodist Church this morning at the closing service of the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. North Georgia's episcopal nominee Sharma Lewis, North Georgia's next episcopal leader Sue Haupert-Johnson, David Graves, Leonard Fairley and Lawson Bryan were set apart for the ministry of bishop. 

Bishop Lindsey Davis, who served North Georgia for 12 years, from 1996-2008, preached at the service. 

Naming recent events that remind us how desperate our world is for redemption, Bishop Davis lifted up the unique spiritual gifts necessary for the crucial work of a bishop. 

He shared glimpses into what ministry will be like for the new bishops:

  • You will be asked to share your leadership in places and ways you never imagined.
  • By your very presence you will symbolize the unity of the church.
  • You'll experience United Methodist worship in all its diversity.
  • Be prepared to leave your comfort zone.
  • Sometimes your heart will ache.
  • Your joy will be to follow Jesus.
  • GIve yourself completely to the task and God will bless you.
But most importantly Bishop Davis emphasized, "Be assured of our constant prayers for you."

Consecrating the new bishops, Larry Goodpaster prayed, "We thank you gracious Lord for raising up among us your faithful servants for the ministry of a bishop."

Bishop Haupert-Johnson, who was surrounded by friends and family after the service, says she and her family are excited for their next chapter in ministry.

"What I'm looking forward to most is worship in North Georgia," she said. "There is no way I can do this job without worship. I will worship somewhere every Sunday." 

She will begin her 4-year term of service as North Georgia's bishop on Sept. 1. 

Bishop Sharma Lewis was assigned to the Richmond Area of The United Methodist Church and will begin service as bishop of the Virginia Annual Conference Sept. 1.