Iowa's new episcopal leader will be Bishop Laurie Haller. She was elected on ballot 13 at the 2016 North Central Jurisdictional Conference on Thursday, July 14.
Bishop Laurie Haller has served in the Michigan area since 1982. She was serving as senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Birmingham in the Detroit Annual Conference when she was elected to the Episcopacy on July 14.
Prior to her appointment to First UMC, she served six years as district superintendent of the Grand Rapids District in the West Michigan Conference, where she led a campaign to raise $500,000 plus a $500,000 matching gift to build the 24-bed Ubuntu Retreat Center at Africa University in Zimbabwe. Her previous appointments were as co-senior pastor of First United Church in Grand Rapids for thirteen years, pastor of Aldersgate and Plainfield UMCs in Grand Rapids, pastor of Hart United Methodist Church, associate pastor of Ludington United Methodist Church, and pastor of Ogdensburg United Methodist Church in Traverse City.
Bishop Haller received a Bachelor of Music degree in organ performance from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, where she spent her junior year studying sacred music at the Berliner Kirchenmusikschule in West Berlin, Germany. She also received a Master of Music degree in organ performance from the Yale University Institute of Sacred Music and School of Music, and a Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School.
During her years at Yale, Bishop Haller was the director of music at Stratford United Methodist Church in Stratford, Connecticut. She was ordained in the General Conference Mennonite Church in 1982 and transferred her ordination credentials to the West Michigan Conference of The United Methodist Church in 1987.
Bishop Haller served eight years on the Board of Ordained Ministry in the West Michigan Conference, including four years as chairperson. Prior to her election as bishop, she had served on the Michigan Area Committee on the Episcopacy.
Bishop Haller was elected as a General Conference delegate from the West Michigan Conference in 2016, 2012, 2008, 2004 and 1996 (alternate), and as a Jurisdictional Conference delegate in 2016, 2012, 2008, 2004, 2000 and 1996. She is a trustee at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, was a director of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry from 2000-2008, and, until her election served as a member of the North Central Jurisdictional Conference Committee on the Episcopacy.
Bishop Haller has been a Bible Study teacher at the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference (2015), a preacher at Lakeside Chautauqua in Ohio (2015), preacher at Epworth Heights in Ludington, Michigan (2009, 2004, 1997), and a preacher and lecturer at Bay View Assembly in Petoskey, Michigan (2010, 2002). She was chosen to participate in the Academy of Preaching and was the recipient of a Clergy Renewal Grant from the Lilly Endowment in 2000.
Bishop Haller is a prolific writer whose essays and articles have appeared in the Michigan Christian Advocate, Worship Arts, United Methodist Reporter, Ministry Matters, UM Insight, the United Methodist News Service Daily Digest, MIConnect, and Faith in Action.