Delegation endorses Rev. Beckum as episcopal nominee


The South Georgia Conference delegation to the 2020 General and Jurisdictional Conferences has endorsed the Reverend Robert Beckum as its episcopal nominee (nominee to be elected as a bishop in The United Methodist Church).

Rev. Beckum will join nominees from other conferences under consideration for the episcopacy at next summer’s Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference at Lake Junaluska, NC.

Rev. Beckum is the senior pastor of St. Luke United Methodist Church in Columbus, appointed there in June 2011. He has been a delegate to four General Conferences and was elected as a delegate again this year.

“I’m excited that the South Georgia delegation unanimously and enthusiastically chose Robert to be our candidate for election as bishop in 2020,” said Rev. Jim Cowart, head of South Georgia’s delegation and lead pastor of Harvest Church in Byron. “I think Robert is the right person at the right time for this position. The entire delegation and I fully endorse him and offer our prayerful support.”
Prior to being appointed to St. Luke UMC, Rev. Beckum was the vice president of Church Relations and Development for Magnolia Manor in Americus, Ga. for seven years. Magnolia Manor is the South Georgia Conference’s ministry to older adults, providing a loving Christian environment and ensuring the physical, mental, social and spiritual needs of residents and their families.
Rev. Beckum has also served the following congregations: Albany First United Methodist Church; Trinity United Methodist Church in Warner Robins; Douglas First United Methodist Church; Mt. Olivet and Midway United Methodist Churches, both near Savannah; and as associate at Grace United Methodist Church in Savannah.
In addition to pastoral responsibilities, Rev. Beckum has served as the Chair of the Conference Council on Finance and Administration’s budget subcommittee, Chair of the South Georgia Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, the Conference Council on Ministries, the Conference Leadership Forum, and the Conference Personnel Committee. He has also served on the Southeastern Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy.
“I am humbled by the trust of the South Georgia delegation to endorse me as a nominee for the episcopacy in 2020,” Rev. Beckum said. “It is indeed an honor to be serving with the exceptional members of our delegation, all of whom realize the challenging times before our denomination, and all of whom are serving with a ‘for such a time as this’ mindset. We seek your prayers as we begin the work of faithfully representing the clergy and laity of South Georgia in the legislative work of General Conference in May and in the important work of electing bishops at Jurisdictional Conference in July.”
Rev. Beckum received a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Georgia Southern University and a Masters of Divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Rev. Beckum was ordained an elder in 1978.

Rev. Beckum is originally from Louisville, Ga. and is married to Mary Pat (Jones) Beckum. They have been married 41 years. Mary Pat is an elementary school educator. They have one son, Jonathan, who was recently commissioned as a provisional elder at the 2019 Annual Conference Session. Jonathan and his wife, LeeAnn, live in Montezuma, Ga. where Jonathan serves as the pastor of Montezuma UMC.
With a decisive, consistent character, Rev. Beckum has the temperament needed to be an effective episcopal leader, Rev. Cowart said.
“He has the ability to work with all kinds of people. He’s fair with people that disagree with him and his position, he knows how to stand strong for his convictions without being abrasive, and he can be strong and kind at the same time.

“I suppose the best endorsement I can give is that I’d like to have him as my bishop,” Rev. Cowart said.
Bishops will be elected next July when the Southeastern Jurisdiction (SEJ) will hold its quadrennial gathering July 15-18 at Lake Junaluska, NC for the primary purpose of selecting bishops to serve conferences in the SEJ.
In addition to endorsing an episcopal nominee, the delegation also chose legislative committees on which to serve. The 2020 General Conference, which will take place May 5-15, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minn., will have 14 legislative committees. The bulk of General Conference happens in these legislative committees, which receive petitions and proposals, debate them, and determine whether to approve, amend, combine or disapprove them for recommendation to the full body of General Conference. The eight General Conference delegates will have a vote in their committee, and the alternates will be able to observe in their committee.

Serving on behalf of South Georgia in legislative committees will be:
  • Church & Society 1: Scott Hagan
  • Church & Society 2: Jennifer Cowart
  • Church & Society 3: Robert Greene
  • Conferences: Jay Hanson
  • Faith and Order: Allison Lindsey
  • Financial Administration: Bill Hatcher
  • General Administration: Larry Price
  • Global Ministries: Brenda Adams
  • Higher Education/Superintendency: Robert Beckum
  • Judicial Administration: Richard Shinhoster
  • Local Church: Doreen Smalls
  • Ordained Ministry: Jim Cowart
The delegation will meet again in the fall.