Kelly, Leontine T. C.

(b. 1920)
   pioneer African-American female bishop
   Leontine Turpeau Current Kelly was born on March 5, 1920, in Washington, D.C. Her father, David Turpeau, was a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church (now a constituent part of the United Methodist Church), and her brother also become a Methodist preacher.
   After returning to college after a divorce, she completed her B.A at Virginia Union University in 1960. She subsequently married J. David Kelly, a licensed lay minister, and taught school near the church that he pastored. He died in 1969, and she was asked to hold his pulpit for an interim. During this period, she experienced a call to the ministry. She subsequently attended Wesley Theological Seminary and Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, from which she graduated in 1976. She was age 56 when ordained as an elder in the United Methodist Church.
   Kelly pastored Asbury-Church Hill United Methodist Church in Richmond for seven years (1977-83) and then joined the staff of the United Methodist General Board of Discipleship in Nashville, Tennessee. She was with the board in 1984, when the church's western jurisdiction elected her to the bishopric, only the second female so recognized, the first being Marjorie Swank Matthews. Kelly was appointed to lead the Northern California and Nevada Conferences.
   She retired in 1998 and subsequently served as a visiting professor of evangelism and witness at Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, California. In October 2000, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York.
   Further reading:
   ■ Angella Current, Breaking Barriers: An African American Family and the Methodist Story (Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon Press, 2001)
   ■ Martha Henegar, "Pioneering Women," Interpreter 48, 2 (February-March 2004) 15-16
   ■ Jessie Carney Smith, ed., Epic Lives: One Hundred Black Women Who Made a Difference (Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1993).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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