Leontine Kelly

Rev. Leontine Kelly, the first African American woman to serve as a bishop in a mainline denomination, was described in these words by a colleague: "She called us into futures we never anticipated for ourselves, would not let us capitulate to our insecurities and druthers, and coaxed us into new lives that gave new leadership to The United Methodist Church."
Bishop Kelly was a high school history teacher when her husband, Rev. Dr. James David Kelly, urged her to become a Certified Lay Speaker to assist in his ministry. After his death, the congregation at the Galilee Church in Richmond, VA requested that she stay on at their pastor and she was ordained in 1977. She also served on the district level and with the UM Board of Discipleship and the General Board of Global Ministries before she was consecrated as a Bishop in 1984.
Bishop Kelly's father was also a Methodist pastor and a member of the Ohio State House of Representatives. Her mother was a founder of the Cincinnati Urban League, and her first husband, Gloster Current, was an executive with the NAACP for over 50 years as well as being a pastor and jazz musician.