Leontine T. Kelly
Leontine T. Kelly
March 5, 1920
|Died||June 28, 2012 (aged 92)|
|Occupation||Bishop of the United Methodist Church|
|Known for||First black woman to become a bishop in a major Christian denomination|
|Spouse(s)||Gloster Bryant Current|
James David Kelly (m. 1956)
Early life and personal life
Leontine Turpeau was born in Washington, D.C., one of eight children. Her father, David D. Turpeau Sr., was a Methodist minister, who later served four terms in the Ohio House of Representatives. Her mother, Ila Marshall Turpeau, was an outspoken advocate for women and Blacks and a founder of the Urban League of Cincinnati, Ohio. Her brother, D. Rossman Turpeau was an educator in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Turpeau’s first marriage (to Gloster B. Current) ended in divorce. They had three children together. She then married James David Kelly, a United Methodist minister. Following her husband’s death, she adopted his great-granddaughter, Pamela Lynne Kelly.
Kelly earned a B.A. degree from Virginia Union University (1960) and completed graduate work in economics, history and humanities at North Texas State University, the University of Cincinnati, and the College of William and Mary. Sheserved as a public school teacher in Richmond and Northumberland County, Virginia for eight years.
Kelly completed the Course of Study for Ordained Ministers in the Virginia Annual Conference of the U.M. Church by attending summer school at Wesley Theological Seminary (1970, 1971). She earned her M.Div. degree from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia (1976).
Kelly held honorary doctorates from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (1984), DePauw University (1989), Christian Theological Seminary (1989), Virginia Union University (1989), Nebraska Wesleyan University (also 1989), Bennett College (1991), Willamette University (1990) and Dillard University (1992).
Kelly became a Certified Lay Speaker in Virginia in the late-1960s. She then served the Galilee Church (1969–75). She was ordained a Deacon by William R. Cannon in 1972 and an Elder by W. Kenneth Goodson in 1977.
Kelly served on the staff of the Virginia Conference Council on Ministries (1975–77), directing social ministries. She then served as pastor of Asbury-Church Hill in Richmond, Virginia seven years before becoming Assistant General Secretary of the U.M. General Board of Discipleship with the portfolio of Evangelism. Leontine also served on the Health and Welfare Ministries Division of the General Board of Global Ministries.
Although a member of the Virginia Annual Conference in the Southeastern Jurisdiction, Kelly was elected to the episcopacy by the Western Jurisdictional Conference of the U.M. Church in 1984 (only the second woman, and the first African American woman, to become a bishop in any major Christian denomination in the World). She was assigned to the San Francisco Episcopal Area, where she served until her retirement in 1992. Kelly also served on the U.M. General Board of Church and Society, as the President of the Western Jurisdictional College of Bishops, and on the executive committee of the Council of Bishops.
Awards and honors
Kelly died on June 28, 2012 in Oakland, California.
- The Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church 
- InfoServ, the official information service of The United Methodist Church. 
- "Leontine Kelly Dead: African-American United Methodist Woman Bishop Dies At 92". Huffington Post. June 30, 2012. Retrieved June 30, 2012.
- Leontine Kelly's oral history video excerpts at The National Visionary Leadership Project