Emerson Stephen Colaw

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Emerson Stephen Colaw (born November 13, 1921) is a retired American Bishop in the United Methodist Church and theologian specializing in homiletics. Colaw was first elected as bishop in 1980.

Birth and Family[edit]

Bishop Colaw was born in Chanute, Kansas. He married Jane Elizabeth Curry of East McKeesport, Pennsylvania on August 26, 1942. They have four children: Prudence, Deborah, Marcella, and David. His wife, Jane, died April 16, 2013.


Colaw earned the B.S. degree in 1944 from the University of Cincinnati. He earned the Bachelor of Divinity degree, magna cum laude, in 1947 from Drew Theological Seminary. He received a Master of Arts degree from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois in 1953. He has done graduate work at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and at Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. Bishop Colaw received honorary doctorates from five different institutions.

Ordained Ministry[edit]

Ordained a Deacon in 1945 by Bishop H. Lester Smith, and an Elder in 1947 by Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam, Rev. Colaw became a Member in Full Connection of the New York Annual Conference of the Methodist Church in 1947. That fall, however, he transferred to the Northern Illinois Annual Conference, where he served three different pastorates over a fourteen-year period. In 1961 Rev. Colaw was appointed to the Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio (West Ohio Annual Conference). It was from this appointment Rev. Colaw was elected to the Episcopacy by the North Central Jurisdictional Conference of the U.M. Church, July 1980.

Rev. Colaw was a Jurisdictional and General Conference delegate 1968-80. He also was a member of the General Conference Commission on Doctrine and Doctrinal Standards.

Episcopal Ministry[edit]

The Rev. Emerson Stephen Colaw was elected to the Episcopacy by the 1980 North Central Jurisdictional Conference of the United Methodist Church. As a Bishop he served on the General Board of Discipleship, the General Council on Finance and Administration, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, and as Chairperson of the Commission to Study the Mission of the Church during the 1984-88 quadrennium.


Bishop Colaw has been the recipient of numerous ecumenical awards. He retired in 1988. He then became Professor of Homiletics and Christian Ministry at United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio, 1988-99. He also was the Acting President of the Seminary, 1995-96. Upon his second retirement he became Bishop in Residence at the North Naples United Methodist Church, Naples, Florida during winters. He also relaxes with golf, reading, and for many years was active in Rotary International. During his time in Cincinnati, Ohio, Dr. Colaw spent many years as moderator of a weekly television program titled "Dialogue" which featured a rabbi, a priest, and a Protestant pastor or two who represented varying denominations. He has authored many books and pamphlets and more than forty magazine articles.


See also[edit]