Bishop Kennetha Bigham-Tsai sat down for her first interview with the Michigan Conference Communications Team following her election this week at the North Central Jurisdictional Conference.
Mark Doyal, Director of Communications for the Michigan Conference, had a chance to sit down with Rev. Kennetha Bigham-Tsai, who was elected bishop on the first ballot of voting during the 2022 North Central Jurisdictional Conference in Fort Wayne, IN.
Bishop Bigham-Tsai noted how excited she is about what is happening this week across the country in all five U.S. jurisdictional conference elections. There’s a diverse class of bishops being elected. And she is hopeful about what is to come within The United Methodist Church. “I feel like the church is turning a page, that we’re ready to start moving forward instead of looking back.”
She went on to talk about the overwhelming—and broad—support she received from the jurisdictional delegates on her election. “There were people who were centrist, people who were conservative, people who were conservative, who voted for me.” This gives her hope for a move toward unity within the church.
Unity has been a growing theme this week during the 2022 NCJ Conference. Bishop Bigham-Tsai remarked on the collegial spirit felt among the 10 episcopal candidates throughout the campaign leading up to the election. “We decided to meet for prayer and support for one another. And I don’t think that’s ever happened before,” she said. Immediately before the first ballot on Wednesday afternoon, the 10 candidates stood in front of the delegate body to read a prepared liturgy that spoke to their mutual support and care for one another.
Bishop Bigham-Tsai also mentioned Bishop David Bard’s moving Episcopal Address on Thursday and how he spoke about spaciousness and the power of being in relationship with one another. She noted, “People jumped to their feet as he spoke. It was just a wonderful sense of people coming together.”
Doyal then asked what her hope and prayer would be for The United Methodist Church in the next two years as we move through the process of disaffiliation and continued unrest. Bishop Bigham-Tsai said that her hope is for healing for those remaining in the church and to provide a gracious exit for those who feel called to a different place. She also hopes that out of that healing, The United Methodist Church would move into an inspiring place to live out our mission and bring vitality and relevancy to our congregations in our communities.
She also spoke to the ongoing work ahead of the NCJ as each annual conference puts into practice the commitments outlined in the “Covenant to Build BeLoved Community,” approved by NCJ delegates at the November 2021 virtual special session. This covenant calls on the jurisdiction to work to end racism and to create a culture that welcomes and affirms LGBTQIA+ people. Bishop Bigham-Tsai said that she feels good about the road map set before the NCJ.
The conversation ended with some personal reflections on her upcoming move, a significant and immediate transition for her family. She has about eight weeks before she begins her episcopal assignment, which will be announced during Saturday morning’s consecration service, at 10 am. (This service can be watched live at the Michigan Conference’s NCJ web page.) Bishop Bigham-Tsai concluded that she is looking forward to building new relationships with the people and churches in her new episcopal home.
Last Updated on November 8, 2022