Rev. Dr. David M. Wilson has served as resident bishop of the Great Plains Conference of The United Methodist Church since Jan. 1, 2023. He was elected to episcopal office Nov. 2, 2022, on a historic vote by the South Central Jurisdiction’s delegates, when Bishop Wilson was one of three people elected on the first and only ballot needed to fill bishop vacancies.
Bishop Wilson, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, holds the distinction of being the first Native American elected to serve as a bishop in the history of The United Methodist Church.
Prior to election, Bishop Wilson served as assistant to the bishop of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference (OIMC), which is comprised of 81 Native American churches in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. He previously served as the OIMC superintendent for 18 years.
Bishop Wilson was ordained as an elder in 1995 and served charges in Tahlequah and Norman, Oklahoma. During his term as conference superintendent, he also served as the pastor of Norman First American UMC in Norman, Oklahoma, and during his tenure the church grew and completed their building construction in 2007.
Bishop Wilson served as a campus minister and youth director for many years. He has served on the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, Connectional Table and the General Board of Global Ministries, of which he is currently a member. He also served on the General Commission on General Conference.
Bishop Wilson received his associate’s degree in mass communications from Eastern Oklahoma State College in Wilburton, Oklahoma, and is a 1990 graduate of Oklahoma City University, with a bachelor’s of arts in mass communications. He earned his master’s of divinity degree from Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1994. He was the first clergy person from OIMC to graduate from Phillips Theological Seminary, and he was named the Phillips Distinguished Alumni for 2007. He received an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from Bacone College in 2009.
Other honors for Bishop Wilson include the Excellence in Teaching Award for adjunct faculty at Oklahoma City University in 2012, the Dr. John Edwards Memorial Leadership Award in 2016 by the AARP, and “Man of the Year” by the Changing Winds Cultural Society in 2017.
Among other interests, Bishop Wilson has served as an adjunct professor of religion for more than 15 years at Oklahoma City University, a United Methodist-related institution. He serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for Oklahoma City University and on the board for the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic. Bishop Wilson also has served as an adjunct professor at the Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology and has taught in the summer at the Perkins Course of Study Program. Among his many mission-outreach projects, he has served as director for the Rock the Native Vote, an initiative to engage Native Americans to vote in Oklahoma.
Bishop Wilson often lectures on Native American spirituality in classrooms and for groups across the denomination. In his personal time, he enjoys running and studying history, in particular Native American history. His grandfather, Calvin Wilson, was one of the Choctaw Code-Talkers from World War I. Bishop Wilson is single and resides in Topeka, Kansas.