Newly elected Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey is escorted to the stage by Bishop Ann B. Sherer-Simpson and Bishop Janice Huie. (photo by Amy Forbus, Arkansas Annual Conference)
Bishop Janice Huie and newly elected Bishop Cynthia Harvey sing the Doxology after Harvey's election to the episcopacy in the South Central Jurisdiction.
The Rev. Cynthia Fierro Harvey, who heads the United Methodist Committee on Relief, the denomination’s relief agency, has been elected as a United Methodist bishop by delegates at the South Central Jurisdictional Conference.
Harvey was elected Thursday, July 19, at the jurisdiction’s quadrennial meeting in downtown Oklahoma City. On the fifth ballot, she received 165 votes, 21 more than the 144 needed for election.
Harvey is the first Hispanic woman elected bishop in the South Central Jurisdiction and the first woman elected bishop in the jurisdiction since 1996.
“I have a servants’ heart. I am faithful to my call, my call to love God and love my neighbor, to reach out to those who live on life’s edges, to folks who haven’t heard the gospel yet. That’s an important part of who I am as a human being, and certainly as a clergy person,” Harvey said.
Harvey was the first bishop elected by the 256 delegates, an equal number of United Methodist clergy and laity, from the eight states that form the South Central Jurisdiction. The assignments of bishops in the South Central Jurisdiction for the next four years will be announced later in the week. Her four-year term of service begins Sept. 1.
Harvey was endorsed for the episcopacy by the Jurisdictional Conference Women’s Leadership Team and affirmed by MARCHA (Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic Americans), the denomination’s Hispanic caucus. She also was endorsed by the Nebraska Annual (regional) Conference delegation..
“What I really believe is there’s an opportunity to widen the table and there are gifts everyone can bring to that table,” said Harvey, who is fluent in Spanish. “Being able to communicate in a first language is a gift that I didn’t realize was such a gift until much later.”
Before leading UMCOR, she was the director of missional excellence for the Texas Annual (regional) Conference. In that role, she initiated a partnership with the Côte d’Ivoire Annual Conference.
“I think that it’s when we are in mission in the world that our discipleship is deepened,” Harvey said. “I believe that’s where you come face to face with the living God is in the faces of those people.”
She also previously served as executive associate pastor of Memorial Drive United Methodist Church in Houston and associate pastor of Foundry United Methodist Church in Houston. She is a graduate of Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology.
Harvey has been married for 30 years to Dean Alan Harvey. They have a daughter, Elizabeth, who is a student at Baylor University.
“There are two times that I have not doubted her call. The first was when she answered her call to ministry and the second time was when she started this process,” Dean Harvey said.