The Rev. Tom Berlin endorsed as candidate for bishop

By Madeline White

The Rev. Tom Berlin was endorsed as candidate for bishop by the Virginia Conference delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conference during the delegation meeting held at the conference center in Glen Allen, Nov. 16.

Berlin is currently senior pastor of Floris United Methodist Church in Herndon. The election of bishops will take place July 15-17 at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in western North Carolina. It is expected that five bishops will be elected to the 2020 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference.

Berlin accepted this endorsement sharing, “It is a great honor to be nominated for the episcopacy by the Virginia Annual Conference delegation. United Methodists are in a turbulent and important season, and I am grateful to be considered as one who could provide leadership to the church.”

Delegation votes to endorse Berlin

When the delegation last met in July, a process of discernment began as names of elders in the conference in whom delegates recognized gifts of leadership were lifted. Those persons were invited to enter into a time of personal discernment toward a call to episcopal service.  This included a gathering in Richmond for a Day of Discernment. Seven of  the nominees gathered that day -- two women, five men, one African, one Latino, five Caucasian. Six people continued in the nomination process to meet with the delegation last Saturday. Warren Harper, Virginia Conference lay leader and head of the delegation, led the process as each candidate had an opportunity for an opening statement prior to questions from the floor to each candidate.

After the interview process, a time of discernment took place followed by a written vote. For endorsement, the vote required a minimum of 60 percent affirmative votes. Berlin was then endorsed by the delegation as the candidate for bishop from the Virginia Annual Conference.

Harper facilitated a discussion raised by the delegation about endorsing a second candidate.  Pros and cons were offered, especially given the uniqueness of this time in the life of the denomination and the abundance of strong candidates. Following a written vote, the decision was to not endorse a second candidate.

The delegation ended their time together in prayer.

Concerning the process, Harper shared one word— “thankful.”

“[I am] thankful that many of our clergy spent a prayerful time discerning God’s call upon their lives at this special time,” said Harper. “Thankful for the six that discerned they truly desired to be bishop in our Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church. Thankful to God for their witness.”

Tom Berlin Bio

Berlin has been lead pastor of Floris UMC in Herndon since 1997. During that time, Floris has grown from an average worship attendance of 400 persons in 1997 to an average of 1,300 in 2019. Under Berlin’s leadership, in 2006 the church purchased land and built its current facility. In January 2015, Floris established a satellite congregation, Restoration Church, in Reston. Floris’ online campus, Restoration Worldwide, opened in 2018 and another satellite congregation began in Loudoun in February 2019. 

Berlin has also served Toms Brook UMC, Brucetown-Welltown Charge in Frederick County, and was assistant pastor of Duluth UMC in Duluth, Ga.

Berlin was elected a delegate to General Conference in 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2019 and 2020 and was clergy leader of the delegation in 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2019.  He will also be the clergy leader of the delegation in 2020.

From 2016-2018, Berlin was a clergy member of the Commission on a Way Forward, a group proposed by the Council of Bishops following General Conference 2016. Their aim was to do an examination of human sexuality in the Book of Disciple and explore options that would maintain and strengthen the unity of the church.

He has written eight books, including Reckless Love: Jesus’ Call to Love Our Neighbor; Restored: Finding Redemption in our Mess; Defying Gravity: Breaking Free From the Culture of More; The Generous Church: A Guide for Pastors; High Yield: Seven Disciplines of the Fruitful Leader (co-authored with Lovett Weems), 6 Blocks Small Group Studies – 6 Decisions That Will Change Your Life, 6 Things We Should Know About God, 6 Ways We Encounter God; Overflow: Increase Worship Attendance and Bear More Fruit (co-authored with Lovett Weems); and Bearing Fruit: Ministry with Real Results (co-authored with Lovett Weems).

Berlin attended Virginia Tech (1981-1985) and received a BS in business with a major in public administration. His Master of Divinity is from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University (1985-1988). He was ordained an elder in the Virginia Conference in 1990. He and his wife, Karen, have four daughters.


The Cross and Flame is a registered trademark, and the use is supervised by the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) of The United Methodist Church. Permission to use the Cross and Flame must be obtained from the GCFA, Attn: Legal Department, PO Box 340029, Nashville, TN 37203-0029; phone 615-369-2334; fax 615-369-2330

Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church
10330 Staples Mill Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060
P.O. Box 5606, Glen Allen, VA 23058-5606
(804) 521-1100
Click here for directions to the Center