The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church has assigned Bishop Gregory V. Palmer as interim presiding bishop of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference (IGRC) effective July 1. He will stand in for Bishop Frank Beard who will begin medical leave at that time. Bishop Palmer will continue to serve the people of West Ohio. He and his wife Cynthia will remain in the Columbus area.
“I am humbled to take on this short-term assignment,” Palmer said. “My respect and affection for Bishop Beard and for the IGRC can have me do no less. My prayers for his wholeness will continue to be ongoing. I have always gratefully accepted the appointment of a bishop or an assignment by the Jurisdictional Committee on the Episcopacy or the Council of Bishops.”
Valerie Willis, chair of the West Ohio Conference Episcopacy Committee, asks West Ohioans to support Bishops Beard and Palmer. “Bishop Palmer is willing to serve in this capacity for a colleague in need and we are willing to support him in any manner necessary,” she said in a statement. “At this time, I ask you pray for both bishops – Bishop Beard for healing and strength and Bishop Palmer for wisdom and guidance, and their wives during this time.”
Currently, the North Central Jurisdiction has three bishops providing episcopal leadership for other conferences that are without assigned bishops due to retirement. Two of these bishops are serving two conferences, while the other bishop came out of retirement. Bishop Palmer’s interim appointment is not contingent upon an election. His interim assignment will end when Bishop Beard returns from medical leave.