Virginia Conference endorses Ted Smith as candidate for bishop

By Linda S. Rhodes

June 20, 2016 - Members of the Virginia Annual Conference, meeting in Roanoke June 17-19, voted by acclamation to endorse the Rev. Dr. Ted Smith for election as bishop at the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference to be held in July. Smith, who currently serves as Fredericksburg District superintendent, has also been endorsed for bishop by the Virginia Conference chapter of Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR) and the executive committee of the Asian-American Ministers’ Association.

Ted Smith

Five bishops will be elected at this year’s Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference to be held July 13-15 at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in western North Carolina.

BMCR votes to endorse Smith

The Virginia Conference delegation to General and Jurisdictional Conferences voted last October that they would not endorse a candidate from Virginia for episcopal service. (They later voted to endorse the Rev. Tom Berlin, who withdrew his candidacy in early June.) Following the October announcement that Virginia General/Jurisdictional Conference delegates would not endorse a candidate for bishop, the Rev. Debra Straughter, Virginia BMCR president, said she and some members of BMCR engaged in holy conferencing regarding endorsing Smith for bishop.

“After several conversations and prayer,” Straughter said, “I sent out an e-mail on Jan. 27 to the members of the Virginia Conference BMCR. Of the many votes that came in, an overwhelming majority voted to endorse Ted for the episcopacy.”

Asian-American clergy group endorses Smith and Berlin

The Executive Committee of the Asian-American Ministers’ Association (AAMA), voted in March to endorse both Smith and Berlin as candidates for bishop in the Southeastern Jurisdiction. The Rev. Hyo Joong Lee, AAMA president, said the organization represents more than 50 Asian-American clergy serving in the Virginia Conference.

"We will pray for God’s guidance on these two candidates as they seek to lead us in making disciples of Christ," Lee said.

Official nominations for episcopal service may be made by any annual or missionary conference in the jurisdiction, by any delegation to jurisdictional conference or by another group in the life of The United Methodist Church.

Gammon alumni group calls for inclusiveness

The Gammon Theological Seminary Alumni Association approved a resolution last March calling for the jurisdictional conferences of the United Methodist Church "to be intentional in ensuring the election of persons to the episcopacy which reflect the inclusive nature of our church."

As part of that resolution, the alumni group recommended election of 16 candidates for the episcopacy, including three in the Southeastern Jurisdiction: Ted Smith, Sharma Lewis from the North Georgia Conference and Leonard Fairley from North Carolina.

Ted Smith Bio

Born and raised in Hampton, at the age of 10 Smith left his family’s Baptist church to go to Central UMC because he had become “greatly disturbed by the constant hell, fire and brimstone messages.”

“Central UMC, combined with the pastoral and fatherly mentoring of the Rev. Gary Shelton, nurtured, formed, and shaped [me] in the mold of Methodism,” Smith said.

Smith went on to attend three United Methodist schools: Virginia Wesleyan College (1980-1984, Bachelor in Religious Studies), Candler School of Theology (1984-1987, Master of Divinity) and Wesley School of Theology (1993-1995, Doctor of Ministry in Evangelism). He was ordained an Elder in the Virginia Conference in 1988.

Smith was appointed Fredericksburg District superintendent in 2011. Prior to that, he was pastor of Regester Chapel UMC in Stafford. He also served St. Stephen’s UMC in Burke, Good Shepherd UMC in Woodbridge, Roberts Memorial in Alexandria, Asbury UMC in Christiansburg and Fowler Memorial (formerly Leesville) Charge in the Lynchburg District.

He has also been director of Ethnic Minority Ministries at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and adjunct faculty Humanities instructor at Strayer University’s Woodbridge campus. He was elected a delegate to General/Jurisdictional Conference in 1996, 2004, 2012 and 2016 and a delegate to Jurisdictional Conference in 2000 and 2008. He has served on a number of conference and district boards and agencies and led several United Methodist Volunteers In Mission teams.

He is married to the Rev. Teresa Signer Smith, and they have one adult daughter, Helen.

Click here to view Smith’s detailed resume.

 — Linda S. Rhodes is Virginia Conference director of Communications


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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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