Episcopal Interviews

The process of discerning whom God is calling to be a bishop in The United Methodist Church has a long history. In recent decades, the New York Annual Conference Delegation to General and Jurisdictional Conferences has invited elders from our conference to submit information about themselves and to be interviewed. The delegation has always wanted to discern the will of God carefully, patiently, with open minds, and with respect for all people. This year our discernment included a few new elements, expanding our field of vision and inviting others to see what we saw. We included candidates from other annual conferences; we allowed candidates and delegation members to participate from remote locations; and we recorded interviews, intending to share them with others who could not attend. For more details about our process, feel free to contact us and ask questions. Send your question to Rev. Tim Riss, Timothy.Riss@nyac-umc.com.

This web page allows you to hear the interviews of nine of the ten candidates we met on January 30, 2016. (One candidate elected not to sign the media waiver form we gave to all candidates and the delegation members.) Each interview is about 25 minutes long. We give no opinion about these interviews or candidates, but we offer them to you for your thoughts and prayers.

Below you will find the uniform questions that were asked of each candidate. We are so grateful to all of these candidates for engaging so generously in this new process and for all the work done by our special task force on discernment.  Our prayer is that this will add to the dialogue and discernment throughout the jurisdiction as we seek together God’s direction in selecting our next episcopal leaders. We also hope that other annual conferences might try a similar model of discernment in future quadrennia.

In the January 30, 2016, interviews, these questions were asked:

  1. How do you envision being "a prophetic voice for justice in a suffering and conflicted world?" (BOD Par. 403.1d)
  2. Specifically, how is the requirement of being “a prophetic voice for justice in a suffering and conflicted world in tension with the requirement to "guard the faith, order, liturgy, doctrine and discipline of the Church" (Par. 403.1), particularly in light of the Church's current discrimination toward gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender people?
  3. How do you envision fulfilling the role of President of the Conference? In what way is church administration redemptive?
  4. Whom would you address, D.S.’s, individual pastors, BOOM, candidates, or whom, if you were concerned about the number of persons who are exhibiting pastoral ineffectiveness? How would you address the matter? Why? What would be the grounding for your actions?
  5. In a time of shrinking congregations, both in number of congregations and size thereof, what opinions to you currently hold about "a vision for the Church" (Par. 403.1c).  How have you addressed the "fruitful / faithful" polarity in your current ministry (i.e. How is one faithful without fruit and how does "fruitfulness" sometimes lead to abandoning "faithfulness")?

The order of the interviews was:

  • Derrick E. Porter
  • Rebekah Sweet
  • Noel Chin
  • We Hyun Chang
  • Denise Smartt Sears
  • Lawrence (Larry) Lake
  • LaTrelle Easterling
  • Adrienne Brewington
  • Elizabeth (Betsy) Ott







Adrienne Brewington
Long Island East District Superintendent
New York Conference

Rev. Brewington's Interview:






We Hyun Chang
Pastor: Belmont-Watertown UMC of Belmont MA & Grace Vision UMC of Watertown, MA
New England Conference

Rev. Chang's Interview:






Noel Chin
Pastor: First UMC of Mt. Vernon NY
New York Conference

Rev. Chin's Interview:









LaTrelle Easterling
Metro Boston Hope District Superintendent
New England Conference

Rev. Easterling's Interview:








Lawrence (Larry) Lake
Pastor: Saranac UMC, Zion UMC of Peasleeville NY & Morrisonville UMC
Upper New York Conference

Rev. Lake's Interview:
The first several seconds of this recording were cut off. The facilitator, Roena Littlejohn, began with a similar introduction as in the other interviews, "To preserve the integrity of the interview process, the interview will consist of five open questions which will allot about five minutes for each answer."








Derrick E. Porter
Wilmington District Superintendent
Peninsula-Delaware Conference

Rev. Porter's Interview:






Elizabeth (Betsy) Ott
New York/Connecticut District Superintendent
New York Conference

Rev. Ott's Interview:






Denise Smartt Sears
Metropolitan District Superintendent
New York Conference

Rev. Smartt Sears' Interview:

Rebekah Sweet
Northern Flow District Superintendent
Upper New York Conference

Rev. Sweet's Interview: