A July 17 Religion item incorrectly said that the Rev. Marcus Matthews was appointed bishop of the Philadelphia conference of the United Methodist Church. Matthews was appointed bishop of the church's Philadelphia Episcopal Area, which includes the Eastern Pennsylvania and Peninsula-Delaware conferences. (Published 7/21/04)

Methodist Bishop

Picked for D.C. Area

The Rev. John R. Schol, a clergyman from West Chester, Pa., was appointed yesterday as bishop of the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Schol, 48, succeeds Bishop Felton Edwin May, 70, who retires Sept. 1 after serving eight years in that position. Schol was one of six bishops elected this week at the denomination's northeast regional meeting in Syracuse, N.Y., to replace retiring bishops.

The Rev. Marcus Matthews, a district superintendent from Upper Marlboro, was among those elected and will become bishop of the Philadelphia conference, which comprises Eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Bishop elections also were held in four other regions of the country. Overall, 21 bishops -- nearly half of the 50 active leadership positions -- were named in the 8.3 million-member denomination, the country's third largest.

The Baltimore-Washington Conference consists of 692 churches and more than 200,000 people in the District, central and Western Maryland and the panhandle of West Virginia, spokesman John Coleman said.

May announced his retirement plans April 4 at a worship service in Ocean City, surprising a crowd of 600 people. This fall, he will become chair of religion and ethics at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, working with students studying for careers in health care and the prevention and treatment of drug and alcohol abuse.

May also hopes to coordinate educational opportunities between Philander Smith and Africa University, a United Methodist-related school in Zimbabwe.

-- Bill Broadway

Africans, Women Elected AME Bishops

Delegates of the African Methodist Episcopal Church have elected eight bishops, including the first three "indigenous" bishops for Africa and only the second and third women to hold the post.

During the quadrennial general conference in Indianapolis last week, more than 1,900 delegates decided to designate three of the eight bishop positions for Africans. It was the first time the denomination had approved so-called indigenous leadership for any of its districts on the continent.

The Revs. Wilfred Messiah of South Africa, Paul J.M. Kawimbe of Zambia and David R. Daniels Jr., a native Liberian who is pastor of a West Columbia, S.C., congregation, agreed to serve in Africa, denomination spokesman Mike McKinney said.

Others elected include the Revs. Carolyn Tyler-Guidry of Los Angeles and Sarah Frances Davis of San Antonio. They join the Rev. Vashti McKenzie, elected four years ago, as the only female bishops in the 217-year history of the denomination.

McKenzie, pastor of Payne Memorial AME Church in Baltimore at the time of her election, is now bishop in Lesotho, South Africa.

The AME church is the largest U.S. body of black Methodists, claiming more than 2 million members in this country and 3 million worldwide.

-- Associated Press

House Rejects Measure On Medical Marijuana

The U.S. House of Representatives last week defeated an appropriations bill amendment that would have prevented the Justice Department from using federal funds to prosecute medical marijuana users in states with laws allowing the drug's use.

The amendment, introduced by Reps. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), was rejected July 7 by a vote of 148 to 268. A similar amendment failed last summer on a 152 to 273 vote.

Federal law prohibits the use of marijuana. But laws allowing patients with debilitating diseases or chronic pain to grow, own and use marijuana have been passed in nine states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

Last year, the Maryland legislature passed a bill allowing medical marijuana users to argue for a reduced sentence if convicted of marijuana possession.

An increasing number of religious organizations have supported the right of states to pass medical marijuana laws and the right of qualified patients to use marijuana without threat of prosecution.

-- Bill Broadway