Skip to Main Content

Bishop Announces Assistant to the Bishop Transition

Posted: March 3 2024 at 11:26 AM
Author: Victoria Rebeck

Rev. Arlene Christopherson, who has been serving the Northern Illinois Conference as assistant to the bishop since 2007,  will retire on Sept. 1, announced Bishop Dan Schwerin.

He has also appointed Rev. Danita Anderson as the assistant to the bishop, effective July 1.

"I give thanks for the leadership and dedication Rev. Christopherson has given to the life of the Northern Illinois Conference as the assistant to the bishop (2007-2024) and the director of connectional ministries (2016-2023) during the past 16 years," Bishop Schwerin said.

Christopherson Arleneheadshot

Rev. Arlene Christopherson

"Rev. Christopherson brought a rare mix of administrative skills, theological grounding, and pastoral heart to her work in the episcopal office," the bishop added. "During this season, Arlene worked with four bishops through an era of increased awareness of clergy boundary violations, an economic downturn, the tumult of the denomination’s struggle with LGBTQ inclusion, a global pandemic, disaffiliation, and the changing landscape of the role of faith in society."

He noted that during these seasons Rev. Christopherson brought stability, sound leadership, and grounded support to the bishops with whom she has served.

"She has given us the benefit of her administrative skills, bringing more organization and continuity to the cabinet, districts, and conference," Bishop Schwerin said. "I consider her among the very best of those few who have filled this role of assistant to the bishop across the denomination."

Ordained and elected a probationary member in 1985 and elected a full member in 1988, Rev. Christopherson previously served Polo: First; Downers Grove: First (associate); Sycamore (co-pastor); and as Elgin District Superintendent.

She will continue to serve until September to overlap and provide orientation and training for her successor, Rev. Anderson. After retirement, Rev. Christopherson will take on special projects for the office of the bishop in the months ahead.

Rev. Anderson, who will assume the role of assistant to the bishop, currently serves at Woodridge United Methodist Church in Woodridge, Illinois.


Rev. Danita Anderson

"In my prayer time and conversations around the annual conference, I heard the need for an assistant to the bishop with strong administrative skills and cabinet experience," Bishop Schwerin said. "Danita also has extensive background from serving on and as chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry and as chair of our conference Council on Finance and Administration.

"In addition, I want to continue to live out the conference’s commitment to anti-racism and will turn to Rev. Anderson to give leadership in diversity, equity, and inclusion."

Rev. Anderson is a product of the Northern Illinois Annual Conference. She was raised in Chicago as a lifelong Methodist. Her grandfather and three uncles have or are serving as elders in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Rev. Anderson graduated from Chicago State University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with a concentration in money and banking and a minor in accounting. From Gammon Theological Seminary she earned her master of divinity, focusing on preaching, worship, and the arts. Danita was ordained a deacon and elected a probationary member in 1983 and ordained an elder and elected a full member in 1985.

She identifies her passion for ministry as racial inclusion to build and strengthen God’s beloved community, worship experiences that relate to the current realities of life, as well as a love for children and young people. Her focus on hospitality seeks to encourage others to do the same, crossing boundaries of race, ethnicity, experiences, and education.

Previously she served at Chicago: St. Mark (associate); Maywood: Neighborhood; Ingleside: Whitfield; Aurora: Bethany of Fox Valley; Aurora District Superintendent; Glen Ellyn: St. Thomas; Homewood: St. Andrew; and Woodridge.

"It is an honor to be invited to serve as the assistant to the bishop at this point in history," Rev. Anderson said. "This will be a milestone for both the Northern Illinois and Wisconsin Conferences in sharing an episcopal leader. The promises, possibilities, and opportunities that this configuration can bring into being are endless. It will be a privilege to walk beside our Bishop Schwerin for such a time as this.”

Bishop Schwerin asks Northern Illinois United Methodists to hold Rev. Anderson, Rev. Christopherson, and the entire annual conference in their prayers during this time of transition.

News & Announcements

Delegation At Beumc Merged30percent

Bishop Schwerin's Reflections on General Conference 2024

Bishop Dan Schwerin offers some reflections after listening to how news of The United Methodist General Conference is being received in Northern Illinois.

Cheryl Weaver Web Image

Cheryl Weaver Named Chief Benefits Officer for NIC and Wisconsin

Rev. Cheryl Weaver, Wisconsin Conference’s benefits officer, will also serve Northern Illinois Conference in this capacity, beginning June 1.


General Conference 2020 (2024) Updates

The UMC General Conference (postponed from 2020) came to order on the morning of April 23. Follow daily reports focusing on topics of interest to Northern Illinois Conference readers.

Nic At Gc 1 Smaller

Northern Illinois United Methodists Working and Helping at General Conference

General Conference takes thousands of people to help the event run smoothly and do its work. United Methodists from across Northern Illinois partici…