NASHVILLE (AP) -- Seven of the 13 new bishops elected this month in the predominantly white United Methodist denomination are African-American -- and three are women.
The move follows the election of the Rev. Vashti McKenzie as the first female bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
In 1984, Leontine Kelly became the first African-American woman to become a United Methodist bishop. ''It is great to no longer be the 'only,''' Kelly told the United Methodist News Service. ''I am proud that across the church there has been a response to the diversity in the church in the election of three very strong women to the episcopacy.''
The denomination has 8.4 million members in the United States, including about 382,000 black members. Active bishops on the council include one Korean-American and two Mexican-Americans.
The church's Book of Discipline says jurisdictional conference delegates, in electing bishops, ''shall give due consideration to the inclusiveness of the United Methodist Church with respect to sex, race and national origin.''
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