Written by Selby Ewing and Kristen C. Caldwell
After 19 rounds of votes, just before dinner, the Western Jurisdiction happily celebrated the election of its third new episcopal leader. While the focus of the day was the election, pieces of legislation were introduced, discussions over racism were held and the day ended with retirement celebrations for two of bishops. Here’s a recap of the day:
Rev. Carlo Rapanut elected on the 13th ballot
The Rev. Carlo A. Rapanut, assistant to the bishop in the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area, has been elected a bishop by The United Methodist Church’s Western Jurisdiction. He is the first Filipino American bishop in The United Methodist Church, and the first U.S. bishop who was ordained in a central conference — a United Methodist region outside the U.S.
Delegates elected Rapanut, 48, on Nov. 4 at the jurisdiction’s meeting at Christ United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City, on the what 13th ballot. He received 67 votes out of 95 valid ballots cast. He needed 64 to be elected. Current Western Jurisdiction rules require two-thirds of valid ballots.
Rapanut was the first bishop elected at the Nov. 2-5 meeting.
“I stand here today on the shoulders of Filipinos all across the globe,” Rapanut said in his first remarks after being elected. “I stand on the shoulders of those who had a vision that even, maybe, a Filipino can be bishop in the United States. I honor them today. I honor that vision today.”
READ MORE about Bishop Rapanut on the Western Jurisdiction website.
Rev. Dr. Cedrick Bridgeforth elected on the 18th ballot
The Rev. Cedrick D. Bridgeforth, director of innovation and communication in the California-Pacific Conference, has been elected a bishop by The United Methodist Church’s Western Jurisdiction.
He becomes the first openly gay African American man to be elected a bishop in The United Methodist Church.
Delegates elected Bridgeforth on Nov. 4 at the jurisdiction’s meeting at Christ United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City, on the 18th ballot. He received 73 votes out of 93 valid ballots cast. He needed 63 to be elected. Current Western Jurisdiction rules require two-thirds of valid ballots.
“It is the church where I found purpose – even when it felt like it was chewing me up and spitting me out,” Bridgeforth said, with his husband Christopher Huck-Ortiz standing next to him.
READ MORE about Bishop Bridgeforth on the Western Jurisdiction website.
Rev. Dottie Escobedo-Frank elected on the 19th ballot
The Rev. Dottie Escobedo-Frank, senior pastor of Paradise Valley United Methodist Church in Paradise Valley, Arizona, has been elected a bishop by The United Methodist Church’s Western Jurisdiction.
Delegates elected Escobedo-Frank, the jurisdiction’s third Hispanic bishop, on Nov. 4 at the jurisdiction’s meeting at Christ United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City, on the 19th ballot. She received 85 votes out of 93 valid ballots cast. She needed 63 to be elected. Current Western Jurisdiction rules require two-thirds of valid ballots.
Escobedo-Frank was the third bishop elected at the Nov. 2-5 meeting, Carlo Rapanut, and Cedrick Bridgeforth.
In her election remarks, Escobedo-Frank acknowledged her rich family history and how it calls her to ministry. Her great grandfather on her mother’s side was a circuit rider in the United Methodist Church. Her grandmother crossed the Rio Grande while in labor with her father to find religious freedom.
“I have deep roots in the Methodist tradition and I have deep connection to the Latinos of our country and of the world,” she said. “Today it feels like they’re being married somehow, two parts of me again.”
Read more about Bishop Escobedo-Frank on the Western Jurisdiction website.
From UM News: 2 jurisdictions tackle racism in bishop elections
Both the Western Jurisdiction and Southeastern Jurisdiction found themselves addressing how bigotry has marred the bishop election process. The Western Jurisdiction held a highly unusual closed session.
Read the full story on the UM News website.
Statement out of executive session read Friday morning
In our Western Jurisdiction space, racism, sexism, and homophobia have all been experienced. We commit ourselves as Annual Conference Delegations and as a Jurisdiction to address these with transparency and consistency so we can become an inclusive church.
We repent from the harm that has been caused in our midst, in our system, and the harm that we ourselves have caused. We repent from participating in sinful rumors and repent of the ways in which we have allowed them to dwell within our body. We affirm now, and will continue to affirm, our Episcopal candidates— those who are no longer in process and those who are – they are beloved children of God. As we review their qualifications, we recognize the abundance of gifts and graces among them all. We believe that they are going on to perfection, and we commit to spurring them onward.
Be blessed and be a blessing…
Rev. Bradley Laurvick (he/him)
Secretary, Western Jurisdiction
The statement is also linked on the WJ website.
Bishops honored as they enter retirement
While Bishop Grant Hagiya and Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky requested a short service to honor their impending retirements on Dec. 31, 2022, there was much to celebrate about their lives and years of ministry.
“We have two remarkable leaders. And they move to a different status,” said Bishop Karen Oliveto, president of the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops. “But we don’t lose their wisdom. We don’t lose their gifts.”
Rev. Donna Pritchard, retired clergy from the Oregon-Idaho Conference currently serving in the Pacific Northwest Conference, spoke of Stanovsky’s love of creation, vulnerability, commitment to justice and more.
“Thank you for helping us see the dawn from on high breaking upon us,” Pritchard said. “Thank you for helping to guide our feet into the way of peace. Thank you for being authentically you.”
Stanovsky was elected bishop in the Western Jurisdiction in 2008. At the time of her election, she was serving as a district superintendent in her home conference, the Pacific Northwest. She was first assigned to the Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone Conferences – now known as the Mountain Sky Area. In 2016 she came to the Greater Northwest Area, which is comprised of the Alaska Conference, Oregon-Idaho Conference and Pacific Northwest Conference.
“It’s not hard for me to enter a new room of people curious and eager to learn who they are and how they fit into God’s amazing family,” Stanovsky said. “The blessings have been incredible, immeasurable. I just thank God every day for the privilege of being a part of what God is doing in our world.”
Hagiya was honored for his laughter, his commitment to making new disciples, his calm demeanor, his accomplishments as an author and scholar.
“I’m grateful to him for many things,” said Rev. Tom Choi of the California-Pacific Conference. “He’s one of the main reasons I’m a pastor.”
Hagiya was elected a bishop in the Western Jurisdiction in 2008. At the time of his election, he was serving as the Los Angeles District Superintendent in the California-Pacific Conference. He first served as the bishop for the Pacific Northwest and Alaska Conferences and then the Oregon-Idaho Conference in 2012 as part of the Greater Northwest Area. In 2016, he was assigned to the California-Pacific Conference. Upon retirement he will serve as the interim president of Claremont School of Theology.
“The highlight, the greatest blessing, is to be a part of the Western Jurisdiction. To do ministry all my life in the west, to do leadership in the west, has been the gift God continues to bless me with,” Hagiya said. “My greatest joy and love is to be in ministry with all of you. You are the ones who make this jurisdiction what it is. And I would serve no other.”