With 119 votes, 18 more than she needed, LaTrelle Miller Easterling was elected as bishop by the Northeastern Jurisdiction on July 14, 2016.
Bishop-Elect Easterling, an elder in the New England Conference, most recently served as superintendent of the Metro Boston Hope District, and was named Dean of the Cabinet in June.
In introducing his newest colleague on the Council of Bishops, Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar called Bishop-Elect Easterling “a prophetess, a pastor who leads the church from her spiritual center, and above all, a beloved sister in Christ who always, always has a passion for the marginalized.”
Bishop-Elect Easterling told the conferences of the NEJ that no matter where it is, “If God sends me there, I will never look back.”
“I always, always, always stand on the side of justice,” she said, “but I draw the circle wide enough for all of us to be there – and when I say all, I mean all.”
See a gallery of photos from Bishop-Elect Easterling's election from our Facebook page
She became district superintendent in 2012, succeeding the late Martin D. McLee, who was elected bishop that year. She has followed Bishop McLee’s path to the episcopacy having served as pastor of Union United Methodist Church in Boston and then as DS of the same district he had served.
Originally from Indianapolis, Bishop-Elect Easterling, 51, told the NEJ about a Friday night when she was 16 and sitting in the back of her hometown church.
“All of a sudden something started tingling in me,” she said, and her peers asked what she was doing as she moved toward the front. “There was a hand that guided me down that aisle and I gave my life to Jesus Christ and I have never looked back.”
Bishop-Elect Easterling admitted that she “tried to run” from the call to ministry, “but God was faithful,” and for five days woke her at 3:33 a.m. to say: “Preach My Word.”
She said the Scripture that has carried her through the election process is Jeremiah 12:5
, and displaying her gifts as a preacher, said:
“Beloved, we got some horses we got to run with, because we have work to do. We have to come out of the safe places and get into the thickets that means where gonna get bruised, that means we’re going to get pricked, that means we’re going to bleed, but in the name of Jesus …”
Listen to Bishop-Elect Easterling’s remarks here
Bishop-Elect Easterling was ordained a deacon in 1995 and an elder two years later. She graduated from the Boston University School of Theology Summa Cum Laude in 2004.
She was a delegate to General Conference in 2012 and 2016, and served on the NEJ’s Multi-Ethnic Center Board. She also served on the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry.
Bishop-Elect Easterling earned her bachelor’s degree at Indiana University, and her law degree from the university’s School of Law. Before entering full-time ministry worked as a mediator and as a Human Resources Manager and Director.
She is married to the Rev. Marion Easterling, Jr., the pastor of Parkway United Methodist Church in Milton, MA. They are the parents of two sons, Garrett Walter and Miles Teronza.
The NEJ elected two African-American women as bishop at this conference: Bishop-Elect Cynthia Moore-Koikoi and Bishop-Elect Easterling.
When asked during the interviews about inclusivity, Bishop-Elect Easterling said, “I know what it feels like to be excluded. I know what it feels like to be present but ignored.”
But getting to know one another can change that, she said.
“Once we get to know each other, it’s almost impossible to hate, it’s almost impossible to continue excluding, it’s almost impossible to remain where you were. We are changed when we hear one another’s story.”