Leontine T. Kelly
|Leontine T. Kelly|
March 5, 1920
June 28, 2012 92) (aged|
|Occupation||Bishop of the United Methodist Church|
|Known for||First black woman to become a bishop in a major Christian denomination|
Gloster Bryant Current|
James David Kelly (m. 1956)
Leontine Turpeau Current Kelly (March 5, 1920 – June 28, 2012) was an American Bishop of the United Methodist Church. She was born in Washington, D.C., one of eight children. Her father, David D. Turpeau, Sr., was a prominent Methodist minister, who later served four terms in the Ohio House of Representatives. For a period of time he also served simultaneously as a Pastor and a District Superintendent. Her mother, Ila Marshall Turpeau, was an outspoken advocate for women and Blacks and a founder of the Urban League of Cincinnati, Ohio. Kelly died on June 28, 2012 in Oakland, California.
Leontine’s first marriage (to Gloster B. Current) ended in divorce. They had three children together. Leontine then married the Rev. Dr. James David Kelly, a United Methodist minister (now deceased). Following her husband’s death, Leontine adopted his great-granddaughter, Pamela Lynne Kelly.
Leontine earned a B.A. degree from Virginia Union University (1960) and completed graduate work in economics, history and humanities at North Texas State University, the University of Cincinnati, and the College of William and Mary. Leontine served as a public school teacher in Richmond and Northumberland County, Virginia for eight years.
Leontine completed the Course of Study for Ordained Ministers in the Virginia Annual Conference of the U.M. Church by attending summer school at Wesley Theological Seminary (1970, 1971). She earned her M.Div. degree from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia (1976).
Kelly held honorary doctorates from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (1984), DePauw University (1989), Christian Theological Seminary (1989), Virginia Union University (1989), Nebraska Wesleyan University (also 1989), Bennett College (1991), Willamette University (1990) and Dillard University (1992).
Leontine became a Certified Lay Speaker in Virginia in the late-1960s. She then served the Galilee Church (1969–75). She was ordained a Deacon by William R. Cannon in 1972 and an Elder by W. Kenneth Goodson in 1977.
Leontine served on the staff of the Virginia Conference Council on Ministries (1975–77), directing social ministries. She then served as pastor of Asbury-Church Hill in Richmond, Virginia seven years before becoming Assistant General Secretary of the U.M. General Board of Discipleship with the portfolio of Evangelism. Leontine also served on the Health and Welfare Ministries Division of the General Board of Global Ministries.
Although a member of the Virginia Annual Conference in the Southeastern Jurisdiction, Leontine was elected to the Episcopacy by the Western Jurisdictional Conference of the U.M. Church in 1984 (only the second woman, and the first African American woman, to become a Bishop in any major Christian denomination in the World). She was assigned to the San Francisco Episcopal Area where she served until her retirement in 1988. Kelly also served on the U.M. General Board of Church and Society, as the President of the Western Jurisdictional College of Bishops, and on the Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops.
- The Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church
- InfoServ, the official information service of The United Methodist Church.
- "Leontine Kelly Dead: African-American United Methodist Woman Bishop Dies At 92". Huffington Post. June 30, 2012. Retrieved June 30, 2012.
- Leontine Kelly's oral history video excerpts at The National Visionary Leadership Project