Former Chattanooga area minister the Rev. Mary Virginia “Dindy” Taylor has become the first woman bishop of the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church.
The announcement was made Thursday during the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference in Lake Junaluska, N.C., a quadrennial event in which bishops are elected and assigned to various conferences across the Southeast.
Ms. Taylor, 62, has served as bishop of the South Carolina Conference of the UMC for the past eight years.
She was the Cleveland District superintendent from 1999-2004 and was the co-senior pastor along with her husband, the Rev. Rusty Taylor, at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church on East Brainerd Road from 1989-96.
Generally, bishops serve other conferences besides the ones from which they are elected. However, Ms. Taylor was actually one of three bishops appointed to their home conferences this week.
In her position, she will oversee and offer guidance to the several hundred United Methodist churches and pastors in the Holston Conference, which covers East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, North Georgia and Northeast Alabama.
At the time of her election eight years ago, Ms. Taylor was the sixth and last bishop chosen, with her selection coming after a record 34 ballots. This week, the Southeastern Jurisdiction took 29 ballots to elect five bishops.
To be elected bishop requires 60 percent of the vote among the clergy and lay delegates.
Ms. Taylor – who was also the first woman from Holston Conference to be elected as a bishop eight years ago -- is a graduate of the University of Georgia and the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta.
She has been a United Methodist minister since the 1970s.
Women have been able to be ordained as Methodist ministers since 1956.
The Rev. James Swanson, who has been bishop of the Holston Conference since 2004, was assigned to the Mississippi Conference.