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Methodists designate new bishop for Florida

A retired bishop calls the replacement for Bishop Cornelius L. Henderson a "brilliant theologian.''


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 28, 2001

Florida's 340,000 United Methodists have a new bishop.

Timothy Wayne Whitaker, 53, superintendent of the Norfolk District in the Virginia Annual Conference, was elected bishop Tuesday.

His selection, which takes effect April 2, came during a special session of the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference in Lake Junaluska, N.C.

The special session was held to elect a bishop to fill the vacancy created by the death of Bishop Cornelius L. Henderson in December. Henderson, who died from multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells, was the first African-American bishop of the Florida Conference.

Whitaker will be consecrated bishop today.

Since Henderson's death, St. Petersburg resident J. Lloyd Knox, 72, has been serving as bishop of the conference, which covers an area east of the Apalachicola River to Key West and is made up of 743 churches.

Knox, a retired bishop, said he and the Florida delegation are pleased by Whitaker's election.

"We are very excited about it. The entire delegation is very, very happy," Knox said.

"I feel good in that I believe the church will be in the hands of a very good bishop. I have not known him before, but his bishop tells me that he is a very sensitive and caring person. He's very well liked by the pastors in his district and he is a brilliant theologian. I've heard him speak and he's very impressive in a humble way."

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