Bishop Ernest W. Newman Dead at Age 80

September 19, 2008

(UMNS) UM Bishop Ernest W. Newman, the church’s first African American bishop in the Southeastern Jurisdiction, has died at age 80. Newman, who served as bishop over the Nashville Area from 1984 until his retirement in 1992, died Aug. 28 in Atlanta, where he lived. Newman served Florida churches in Ocala, Jacksonville and Plantation.

He was superintendent of the Melbourne District from 1972 to 1977 and the Deland District from 1983 until his episcopal election in 1984. In 1984, Newman was elected to the episcopacy from the church’s Florida Annual (regional) Conference, where he was a district superintendent. There, he also had been the conference’s first black pastor of a large all-white congregation.

Newman was on the UM Commission on Religion and Race from 1976 to 1984 and served eight years as secretary of the Southeastern Jurisdiction Court of Appeals. He served on the boards of trustees of many United Methodist-related schools of higher education. Pamela Crosby, executive director of Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR), noted that Newman was a strong supporter of the black church and the Black College Fund, and that his brother, Omega Newman, was one of the founders of BMCR. “Our caucus lifts up the great work of this man who served with distinction in the episcopacy and whose family remains at the heart of Methodism,” she said.


Newman leaves behind his wife, Thelma; two children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.