Peoria, Ill.– The Rev. Dr. Tracy Smith Malone humbly praised God and thanked everyone who’s helped her along the journey to being elected bishop in the North Central Jurisdiction.
“To God be the glory,” said Malone after being introduced as a Bishop of The United Methodist Church. “Friends I stand before you as one who feels very blessed. Blessed for the journey, by your prayers and confidence in my leadership. I am a child of a church. You raised me and formed me. I consider it a privilege and an honor to serve the church.”
Malone was the first elected bishop on the sixth ballot at the 2016 North Central Jurisdictional Conference which is gathering at the Peoria Civic Center July 13-16 in Peoria, Ill. Delegates also elected the Rev. Dr. Frank Beard from the Indiana Conference and the Rev. Dr. David Alan Bard from the Minnesota Annual Conference on Wednesday. The Rev. Laurie Hall was the fourth and final elected bishop on the 13th ballot on Thursday. The Consecration Service for the four new bishops will be held on Sat., July 16 at 10 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Peoria.
Later in the week, the North Central Jurisdiction’s Episcopacy Committee will announce the bishop’s assignments for the next four years. Their four-year term of service begins Sept. 1.
First Female Bishop from NIC
Smith Malone is the first female bishop to be elected from the Northern Illinois Conference and the first candidate to be elected in the last 20 years following Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton in 1996. Smith Malone grew up in the church as a preacher’s kid (pk) – the daughter of the late Rev. Willie Smith.
She received her call to ministry at the early age of thirteen. She graduated from United Methodist-related North Central College with a B.A. in religious studies and sociology and attended Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (GETS) graduating in May 1993 with a Masters of Divinity. An elder in The United Methodist Church, she has pastored several churches in the Northern Illinois Conference and is currently serving as the Chicago Southern District Superintendent since 2011. She’s received
An elder in The United Methodist Church, she has pastored several churches in the Northern Illinois Conference and is currently serving as the Chicago Southern District Superintendent since 2011. She’s received distinguished alumna awards from both GETS and North Central College and holds several leadership positions in The United Methodist Church and the community.
She says people began sowing the seed some years ago saying that one day she would become a bishop. It didn’t resonate at first, but she says she started seeing signs and affirmations.
“As I began to see how the church has become very broken and losing hope, and really trying to figure out who we are in a time like this, I started listening more closely and said to myself could it be that God has been equipping me to be an agent of hope and reconciliation.”
Seeking wisdom she said she dedicated time to pray and fast before coming to her decision last year. “I asked the Lord to show me and it became very clear in my spirit that this is the path that God wanted me on.”
The Northern Illinois Conference Delegation unanimously endorsed Malone in September 2015 and the Annual Conference backed her last November. The Rev. Carol Hill helped lead her support team and says she was blessed to learn and share her story. “Taking care of little details meant that I got to learn more about Tracy’s experiences and the breadth of people she has impacted,” said Hill. “Tracy gives me hope for our church because I believe she is an incredibly gifted, authentic leader, who loves God and loves people and who won’t give up when faced with challenges.:
The Rev. Chris Pierson added, “Tracy is an inspirational leader who brings out the best in others— a gift for ministry that The United Methodist Church so desperately needs during these challenging and changing times. Tracy is a leader who not only casts a vision for the church but has the leadership and administrative skills to bring the vision to fruition as she points the Church to a more excellent way.”
Bishop Sally Dyck said as a district superintendent as well as various positions throughout the church, Malone has demonstrated a record of effectiveness, creativity and strategic focus in the local church.
“I think I speak for all of Northern Illinois when I say that we are proud and excited that Rev. Tracy Smith Malone has been chosen to serve the church through the office of the episcopacy. Not only is she an effective, creative and gifted pastor, she is a person that is a joy to work with and to know. We will miss her in the NIC as she goes forth to serve,” said Dyck.
Malone says as an episcopal leader she will continue to look to her mentors and those who have guided and shaped her along the way (both laity and clergy).
“Leadership is the ability to give space for listening and hold together different perspectives,” said the bishop-elect. “I’m going to give my very best to God and my very best to the church. People can count on me to be faithful.”
Malone is married to Derrick Malone and they have two daughters Alexis and Ashley.