The Rev. H. Gray Southern, superintendent of the North Carolina Conference Durham District, has been selected by the conference delegation to the General and Southeastern Jurisdictional Conferences as their nominee to be elected a bishop in The United Methodist Church.
Following a new conference rule, Southern was one of the names selected by the delegation as a possible nominee. Those selected were to discern if being a bishop was a calling for them.
Delegates heard presentations and asked questions of selected clergy before choosing Southern in a written ballot. After the vote was announced, a motion was made and passed by all the delegates that Southern be elected by acclamation.
Southern is in his fifth year as the Durham District superintendent where he has supervisory, mentoring, and coaching responsibilities for 63 charges. One or more local churches are on a charge. One responsibility of the conference bishop and the 12 district superintendents in the NC Conference is to assign pastors to local churches.
He will be one of the nominees to be considered for election to fill vacancies created by five retiring bishops in the Southeastern Jurisdiction.
There are 15 conferences (regional areas) in the jurisdiction within 10 Southern states.
The elections will take place July 18-20 at Lake Junaluska. Bishop Al Gwinn, the current bishop in the NC Conference, will retire after the jurisdictional conference.
In addition to being a district superintendent, Southern has served as an associate pastor at St. Paul in Goldsboro and senior pastor at Oriental, West Nash in Wilson, Trinity in Durham, and St. James in Greenville. He and his wife, Susan, have two children.
Southern received his BA in psychology and religion from UNC-Chapel Hill, divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, and D.Min from Columbia Theological Seminary.