June 3, 2024


Dean Valerie Bridgeman welcomed into the United Methodist Church

Bridgeman with Palmer

MTSO Dean Valerie Bridgeman has worked closely with many United Methodist colleagues for decades. Now she joins them as a United Methodist elder in full connection. Bishop Gregory Palmer welcomed her into communion through recognition of orders at the West Ohio Annual Conference Celebration of Ministry in Columbus June 1.

Bridgeman was licensed by the Church of God Anderson, Indiana, in 1977 and ordained in that tradition in 1985. It wasn’t long before she found her work intersecting with Methodism.

“My first sense that God may be calling me to the United Methodist Church was the late 1990s, when I was in Austin and in relationship with several United Methodist people,” she said. “Because I’m Wesleyan, it resonated with me.”

Over the years, she has served as interim pastor for UM congregation Memphis and preacher-in-residence for a UM church in Washington, D.C. She served on a working committee of Methodists and Wesleyans from other communions on the study that resulted in the UMC’s This Holy Mystery: A United Methodist Understanding of Holy Communion, which was adopted by the 2004 General Conference as the official interpretive statement of theology and practice.

And she co-edited The Africana Worship Book, with three volumes following lectionary years, published by the Upper Room. The team also co-edited essays for a book to help people think about the role and theology of Africana worship, Companion to the Africana Worship Book.

So, she said, “I’ve been Methodist-proximate for a while.”

Since joining the MTSO faculty in 2014, Bridgeman has had a number of conversations with the bishop about making the relationship more official. In the summer of 2023, she took three courses, in UM polity, theology and history, successfully pressuring herself to earn an A-plus in each: “The dean cannot make a B.”

The process culminated in Saturday’s celebration – which, she said with a smile, officially left her “Methodized.”

“It literally is just the next faithful step,” Bridgeman said. “I believe God called me to this some time ago. It’s just taken this long to get to it.”

Methodist Theological School in Ohio provides theological education and leadership in pursuit of a just, sustainable and generative world. In addition to the Master of Divinity degree, the school offers master’s degrees in public theology, social justice and theological studies, along with a Doctor of Ministry degree.


Danny Russell, communications director
drussell@mtso.edu, 740-362-3322