A story in Saturday's editions incorrectly stated that the United Methodist Church's Southeastern Jurisdiction has no black bishop. The jurisdiction has a black bishop who was elected by an all-black church group which was integrated into the jurisdiction nearly two decades ago.
Officials of the United Methodist Church yesterday elected an Alexandria minister a bishop in a decision marked by racial controversy. A new bishop also was assigned to Washington.
Despite pleas that the church's southeastern jurisdiction was the only area without a single black bishop, Methodist delegates to a conference in Lake Junaluska, N.C., selected the Rev. C. P. Minnick, 52, of Alexandria, who is white, for the position.
At a similar gathering in Selinsgrove, Pa., Bishop D. Frederick Wertz, 64, currently serving as the church's West Virginia bishop, was assigned to Washington. He replaces Bishop James Mathews, who is retiring.
Minnick, who has been superintendent of the church's Arlington District for the last two years, was the third man to be elected bishop during the North Carolina conference.
An undercurrent of racial controversy marked the balloting at Lake Junaluska, as black candidates for the powerful post of bishop in the nation's second-largest Protestant denomination failed to secure the necessary votes.
At one point Thursday, with only one slot left to fill, the Rev. Leontime Kelly of Richmond made an impassioned appeal for election of a black. She reminded delegates that about 40 percent of the church's black members reside in the denomination's southeastern jurisdiction, which is the only one of United Methodism's five jurisdictions without a black bishop.
Kelly, a member of the Richmond School Board, had received some votes in early balloting on Wednesday but withdrew her name when it became obvious she could not muster the necessary majority. Her appeal to the delegates of the church, which is committed to racial equality, was on behalf of the Rev. Joseph Bethea, a black pastor from Rockingham, N.C.
As voting progressed, Minnick, who had the strong backings of Virginia delegates, continued to pile up the votes until he reached the required majority.
The southeastern jurisdiction extends north to Virginia and west to Kentucky and Tennessee.
Wertz, who is coming to Washington, has been a bishop of the church since 1968 and is also president of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, the most powerful national board in the denomination. He has served as chairman of the denomination's Council on Religion and Race and has represented his church in the National Council of Churches.
Known for his championing of social causes, Wertz was president for three years of Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa., and served churches in his native Pennsylvania. In his new post he will be the spiritual leader of more than 35,000 United Methodists in Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. He will assume his new post Sept. 1.
Minnick, a native of North Carolina, has served most of his ministry in Virginia. Until his appointment as District Superintendent two years ago, he was pastor of Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church in Arlington.
His new assignment as bishop will be announced later.