Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey has informed the United Methodist Church Council of Bishops of her intent to retire in 2016 at the end of her current 4-year assignment to the Michigan Area. The West Michigan Conference and the Detroit Annual Conference comprise the Michigan Area of The United Methodist Church. Together, these annual conferences represent nearly 900 United Methodist churches and over 150,000 members in Michigan.
In her announcement to the Michigan Area, released on video earlier today, Bishop Kiesey cited the need to care for her long-term physical mobility. “As you know, I am a polio survivor, having contracted it as an infant.” Said Bishop Kiesey, “God has blessed me with plenty of energy, so throughout my life, polio has not slowed me down much, until recently. The past three years I have struggled more and more with the continued decreasing mobility and increasing pain of Post Polio, until it has become clear to me that if I want to enjoy my retirement years with my husband Brad with a degree of mobility, I need to stop, take care of myself, and step away from the physical challenges and stresses of the episcopacy.”
Bishop Kiesey has led the Michigan Area since September 2012. For the past two years, she led a dialog about the possibility of bringing the two Michigan Area conferences together. This past spring, legislation passed overwhelmingly in both annual conferences to create one new annual conference in Michigan by 2019. The measure must be affirmed by the North Central Jurisdiction (NCJ) in 2016. Bishop Deb has named a 29-person design team to begin the work of creating the new conference. “Friends, I will miss seeing this new conference come into its final form, but I am truly excited about where we are heading here in Michigan, and I will continue to work hard these next nine months to ensure that we are well on our way to creating this ‘new thing.’” She said. “We have incredibly gifted and committed leaders that share the vision of what we can become, and I am confident they will guide us well into that new future.”
There are nine episcopal areas in the NCJ. Bishop Kiesey’s announcement brings to 4 the number of episcopal leaders who will be retiring in the North Central Jurisdiction in 2016. Also retiring is Bishop Michael Coyner of Indiana, Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton of Illinois Great Rivers and Bishop John Hopkins of East Ohio. New bishops will be elected at the NCJ conference to be held in July 2016 in Peoria, Illinois.