By Jeff Finley
Because of their honorable and distinguished service to the Free Methodist Church USA, Linda Adams and Matt Whitehead will be recognized as bishops emeriti after recent action by General Conference 2023 delegates.
When the FMCUSA Board of Administration (BOA) met in October, members wanted to bestow emeriti status on Adams and Whitehead for their service as bishops from 2019 to 2023. The 2019 Book of Discipline, however, limited “the title of bishop emeritus” to a retiring or former bishop who served “for a minimum of six years.”
In electronic voting between Oct. 27 and Nov. 3, GC23 delegates voted 153-10 (with 1 abstention) to approve Resolution 425 that removes the six-year minimum. Their vote allows the BOA to grant the titles of bishop emerita to Linda Adams and bishop emeritus to Matt Whitehead. (Emerita is the feminine form of the masculine word emeritus, and the plural form of the Latin word is emeriti.)
The resolution noted that “the marks of excellence in the bishopric need not be measured by time, such as six years, but by the service they provide to the church,” and “it is the desire of the church to honor bishops of exceptional service who may not have been re-elected for a second term.”
“The BOA will now move forward with designating emeritus status for Bishops Adams and Whitehead, and at our next in-person gathering, will consider the implications for other former bishops who may have served less than six years,” BOA Chair Eric W. Logan said while announcing the outcome of the delegates’ vote. “Please keep us in your prayers as we consider this and other important considerations.”
Bishop Emerita Linda Adams
At General Conference 2019, Adams was elected as the first female bishop in the 160-year history of the Free Methodist Church USA. In her four years as bishop, she oversaw Free Methodist ministry in the northern United States from eastern Montana to West Virginia. She also provided ecclesiastical accountability in Latin America countries that have not yet become separate general conferences. Prior to her election as bishop, she served as the director of International Child Care Ministries (ICCM) for 11 years and as a pastor for churches in Michigan, Illinois and New York.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Spring Arbor University and Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Asbury Theological Seminary. She also was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Center for Contemporary Christianity in Bangalore, India.
Bishop Emeritus Matt Whitehead
Whitehead was elected as a bishop and named as the Free Methodist Church USA’s lead bishop at General Conference 2019. In his four years as bishop, he oversaw Free Methodist ministry in the western United States. He also provided ecclesiastical accountability in African and Asian countries that have not yet become separate general conferences. For the previous 20 years, he was the superintendent of the Pacific Northwest Conference, which he served as lead pastor of two churches before his election as superintendent.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Seattle Pacific University, a Master of Divinity degree from Western Evangelical Seminary (Portland Seminary) and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Asbury Theological Seminary.
Jeff Finley is this magazine’s executive editor. He joined the Light+Life team in 2011 after a dozen years of reporting and editing for Sun-Times Media. He is a member of John Wesley Free Methodist Church where his wife, Jen, serves as the lead pastor.