Memorial Service Honors the Generous Heart of Bishop Leontine Kelly

September 27, 2012

By Neill Caldwell
Editor, Virginia Conference Advocate

Bishop Young Jin Cho, along with clergy and laity from around the Virginia Conference, paused to remember the life of Bishop Leontine T.C. Kelly on Sunday (Sept. 23) at Asbury United Methodist Church on Church Hill in Richmond, the church Kelly was serving when she was elected as bishop.
A large group from Gallilee UMC in Edwardsville, Virginia, the church where Kelly started her pulpit ministry in 1969, attended the service.
Many stories were shared in the mostly unstructured service, most of them personal ones, dealing with the impact on people's lives made by the small woman who became a very large figure in The United Methodist Church.
One service attendee told of Kelly enrolling her in college without her knowledge or consent, and paying for four years of her schooling, simply because she knew the young woman was smart enough to complete college-level work but would not get that opportunity otherwise.
Kelly was the first African-American woman elected a bishop of a mainline denomination. She was elected in the Western Jurisdiction of the Church and served as the episcopal leader in the California-Nevada Annual Conference. She retired in the San Francisco area.
Bishop Kelly died June 28 at age 92.