Religion

Bishop Paul Leeland will lead United Methodists in Charlotte, Western N.C.

Bishop Paul Leeland, who will become the new bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church on Sept. 1.
Bishop Paul Leeland, who will become the new bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church on Sept. 1. Courtesy of the United Methodist Church.

United Methodists in the denomination’s Western North Carolina Conference – including Charlotte – will get a new bishop on Sept. 1.

Bishop Paul Leeland, who will turn 68 in October, was recently assigned to succeed Bishop Larry Goodpaster, who is retiring after eight years in the post.

Since 2008, Leeland has been bishop of the United Methodist Church’s Alabama-West Florida Conference. His new flock in North Carolina numbers about 280,000 people attending 1,100 United Methodist churches.

In the United Methodist Church – the largest mainline Protestant denomination in the United States – bishops ordain clergy and appoint them to serve local churches as pastors.

Leeland was born in Washington, D.C. But his higher education was in North Carolina, where he received a total of four degrees from North Carolina Wesleyan College, Duke University's Divinity School and North Carolina State University.

And before taking the bishop post in Montgomery, Ala., in 2008, Leeland served churches in the denomination’s North Carolina Conference – based in the Raleigh area – for 33 years.

As bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference, he will work and live with wife Janet in Charlotte. They were married in 1968 and have three grown children and four grandchildren.

In 2007, Leeland was the recipient of the Red Shoe Award, presented by clergywomen of the North Carolina Annual Conference for “encouragement and support of women in ministry through advocacy, appointment, mentoring and friendship.”

In July, during a regional meeting in Lake Junaluska, Leeland was assigned to succeed Goodpaster by the Southeastern Jurisdiction on Committee on the Episcopacy.

After his retirement next week, Goodpaster will become the Bishop-in-Residence at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta.

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