By Tyler Sprouse, TWK Communications Specialist


The McAlilly family: Laura, Chris, Lynn, and Bill. Photo Courtesy of Connie Offutt, Kentucky Annual Conference.

LAKE JUNALUSKA, NC – On Wednesday evening, the Southeastern Jurisdictional (SEJ) Conference held a retirement celebration for the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference Episcopal Leader, Bishop William T. McAlilly, this year’s sole retiring bishop.

Bishop McAlilly was elected to the episcopacy at the SEJ Conference in 2012 and was assigned as the resident bishop of the Memphis and Tennessee Annual Conferences beginning Sept. 1, 2012. He was given the task of merging these two conferences to form what is now the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference of the United Methodist Church.This new conference was overwhelmingly adopted on Dec. 4, 2021.

Over the course of his career, Bishop McAlilly served in a wide variety of ministry settings in Georgia and Mississippi–a small membership church, a new congregation, a county-seat church, a newly organized congregation, and a large membership congregation. Likewise, he has served in a variety of roles in the local church, including youth minister, associate minister, and lead pastor.

He was ordained as a deacon in 1979 and as an elder in 1982. During the celebration, the Rev. Jefferson Furtado enumerated Bishop McAlilly’s ministry appointments, which are as follows: student pastor during his M.Div. at Candler School of Theology (1978-1981); New Albany First UMC (1981-84); Lambert UMC (1984-86); Getwell Road UMC (1986-90); Philadelphia First UMC (1990-94); St. Matthews UMC (1994-2000); Tupelo First UMC (2000-06); and he served as the District Superintendent of the Seashore District of the Mississippi Annual Conference (2006-12).

Rev. Melinda Young Britt, Rev. Jefferson Furtado, and Dr. Rob Martin spoke during the celebration.

Bishop McAlilly’s son, the Rev. Chris McAlilly, read Hebrews 12:1-2, a significant biblical passage throughout Bishop McAlilly’s ministry. It was also a foundational text for the McAlilly family throughout the many transitions they experienced together.

“Each time we were preparing to move to a different town for one of dad’s new appointments,” began Rev. McAlilly, “he would say to us: ‘We are a family that walks by faith.’”

His son, Chris, his daughter, Laura, and his wife and life-long ministry partner, Lynn, joined Bishop McAlilly onstage. His five grandchildren, daughter-in-law, and son-in-law also were in attendance.

The TWK Connectional Ministries Officer, the Rev. Melinda Young Britt, offered remarks of acknowledgment and honor on behalf of Bishop McAlilly. Rev. Britt underscored the abiding impact of Bishop McAlilly’s 12-year tenure, one that will run deep for years to come.

“You have taught us that we are better together and that we can do it right or we can do it right now,” said Rev. Britt. “You showed us that the wisdom in us is greater than the wisdom in each of us.

“It’s the greater things you taught and showed us that will remain because they are now in the DNA of our conference,” continued Rev. Britt. “So we thank you, Bishop McAlilly, for the opportunity to serve alongside you and for the way that you empowered us to seek the greater things. You have helped make us who we are. Your mark of 12 years cannot be undone–its imprint is in our hearts.”

Bishop and Mrs. McAlilly with their grandchildren.

Rev. Chris McAlilly, the bishop’s son, spoke during the celebration.

Photos Courtesy of Derek Leek, Director of Communications, North Carolina Conference of the UMC.