New bishops consecrated in South Central Jurisdiction


The advice of Jacob found in Genesis 43 was given to the three newly elected bishops of the South Central Jurisdictional Conference in their consecration service July 16, 2016, at First United Methodist Church, Wichita.

Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. is consecrated July 16, 2016, as a new bishop in the South Central
Jurisdiction during a ceremony at Wichita First United Methodist Church. Photo by Todd Seifert

“Carry a Little Balm and a Little Honey” was the theme of the sermon by retiring Bishop Robert E. Hayes Jr. of the Oklahoma Conference.

Balm, Hayes said, was plentiful in Gilead – in the words of the familiar hymn, intoned by Hayes at the beginning of his sermon – and can come in the soothing power of the Lord’s spirit.

Honey, he added, is a symbol of peace offerings. Hayes said that was true in the personal aspects of his own pastoral career, when dinners, movie dates and even planned vacations with his wife had to be scuttled because of pressing church matters.

“When that happens,” Hayes said, “I have to find a little honey.”

Three new bishops – Ruben Saenz Jr., assigned to the Great Plains Conference; James “Jimmy” Nunn of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Indian Missionary conferences; and Robert “Bob” Farr of the Missouri Conference – were consecrated in the ceremony that featured greetings from representatives of other denominations and the laying on of hands by fellow United Methodist bishops in the South Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops.

Hayes said the new bishops were being elevated at a time when the church is being divided by ideological and theological differences.

“The church is at a unique place in its history,” he said. “We are at a turning point.”

He said it shouldn’t matter to the world what seminary the pastor went to or to which political party he or she belonged.

“Can I see the face of Jesus in you that you want to see in me?” he asked.

The consecration sermon may have been Hayes’ last public act for the jurisdiction. He is one of two retiring bishops, with the other being Bishop Janice Riggle Huie of the Texas Conference, based in Houston. She will be replaced by current Great Plains Bishop Scott Jones.

“What a fortunate thing it is to give a retiring bishop one last shot … at a pulpit or a platform,” he said.

Contact David Burke, communications coordinator, at

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