United Methodist Church Elects Phillips Alum, Student to Episcopacy

The Rev. Dr. David Wilson

For the first time in Phillips Theological Seminary history, two clergy with ties to the seminary were elected to the episcopacy of the United Methodist Church. The Rev. Dee Williamston, a Doctor of Ministry student, and the Rev. Dr. David Wilson, an alum, were selected Wednesday at the South Central Jurisdictional (SCJ) conference in Houston.

The Rev. Dee Williamston

The pair also set other historic firsts, according to conference officials. Wilson, who serves as Assistant to the Bishop in the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, is the first Native American elected from the jurisdiction. Williamston, the Clergy Excellence Director/Assistant to the Bishop in the Great Plains Conference, is the first Black woman to win election to the episcopacy from the SCJ.

Also elected was the Rev. Laura Merrill, Capital District Superintendent for the Rio Texas Conference. The election of Merrill and Williamston is the first time the SCJ has elected two women to the office of bishop. The SCJ includes a dozen annual conferences across Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Wilson, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, was the first clergy person from the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference to graduate from Phillips and was named the Phillips Distinguished Alumni for 2007.

Williamston is in progress toward her DMin in the Transformational Leadership in Intercultural Community track at Phillips.

Read more about each newly elected United Methodist bishops: