The Rev. Mary Virginia "Dindy" Taylor, who once served as co-pastor of Chattanooga's Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, has become the first female bishop of the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church, an area that includes Southeast Tennessee.
She also is the first pastor with Chattanooga ties to serve as bishop in the conference since the denomination was created in 1968.
Taylor, 62, was assigned Thursday night at the denomination's Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference in Lake Junaluska, N.C. She will begin her duties on Sept. 1 in the conference that includes Southwest Virginia, East Tennessee and a small portion of North Georgia.
Taylor was superintendent of the church's Cleveland (Tenn.) District when she was elected a bishop in 2004 and assigned to the South Carolina Conference.
"Rusty [Taylor, her husband] and I love Holston Conference," Taylor said in an emailed statement Friday. "Holston has molded me and made me, and through God's wonderful surprise, I get to come back and serve as episcopal leader. I am very humbled and honored to be with the people of Holston."
Bishop James Swanson, who served the Holston Conference as resident bishop for eight years after his 2004 election, was assigned to the Mississippi Conference.
Taylor, ordained a deacon in 1974 and an elder in 1976, is a Washington, D.C., native who was raised in the Atlanta area served as co-pastor at Wesley Memorial with her husband from 1989 to 1996.
Taylor was appointed to the Cleveland District in 1999. She also has served churches in Athens, Knoxville, Gray, Bluff City and Kingsport, all in Tennessee.
In the Holston Conference, she also has served as chairwoman of the Board of Ordained Ministry and as a delegate to six General Conferences.
The Taylors have two daughters and one granddaughter.
The Rev. David Graves, a former pastor at Ooltewah United Methodist Church who was endorsed by the Holston Conference as a nominee for one of five new bishops at the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference, withdrew from the election of bishop earlier on Thursday after failing to take the lead in 23 ballots.
Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...