Benjamin Michael Watson has been the resident bishop of The United Methodist Church’s North Georgia Episcopal Area since 2008. The North Georgia Conference has over 362,000 members, 950 congregations, and 1,400 clergy. In 1949, he was born into an active Methodist family in Dothan, Alabama. After graduating from Dothan High School, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and real estate from The University of Alabama, a Master of Divinity degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory University, and earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from Vanderbilt University. In 1972 he was ordained deacon by Bishop W. Kenneth Goodson, and in 1976 he was ordained elder by Bishop Carl J. Sanders. Bishop Watson was elected to the episcopacy by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference in 2000 and was assigned to the South Georgia Area where he served until 2008. Bishop Watson is currently the president of World Methodist Evangelism, chair of the World Methodist Evangelism Institute, and on the Steering Committee of the World Methodist Council. He is the secretary of the Council of Bishops Leadership Team on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations. He serves on the Board of Trustees of Emory University, Gammon Theological Seminary, the Moscow Theological Seminary, Clark Atlanta University, LaGrange College, Paine College, Reinhardt University, Wesleyan College, Young Harris College, UM Children’s Home, Georgia UM Foundation, Camp Glisson, Simpsonwood Conference & Retreat Center, the Methodist Foundation for Retired Ministers, and the William I. H. and Lula E. Pitts Foundation. Bishop Watson is a past president of the Southeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops. He is the immediate past chairperson of the Board of Directors of the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits (the largest denominational pension fund in the world, with over $18 billion in assets and 74,000 participants), and he served as vice-chairperson of the General Commission on United Methodist Men. As a member of the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference, Mike Watson received the Denman Evangelism Award in 1990. He served from 1975-1977 as pastor of Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Molino, Florida, and from 1977-1979 as pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Milton, Florida. He was appointed to start a new congregation in his hometown, where he served as founding pastor of Covenant United Methodist Church from 1979-1990. From 1990 until his election to the episcopacy by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference in 2000, he served as the pastor of Dauphin Way United Methodist Church in Mobile, Alabama. Bishop Watson also served as president of the Mobile County School Board, which is the largest school system in the state of Alabama with more than 66,000 students, nearly 8,000 employees, 100 schools and a $450,000,000 annual budget. He served as chairperson of his conference Board of Ordained Ministry, chairperson of the conference Three-year Covenant Community for Spiritual Formation, chairperson of the steering committee of the Southeastern Jurisdiction's larger church consultation, a member of the Emmaus Community, a trustee of several colleges, a member of Emory University's Clergy Advisory Council, president of the Mobile Rotary Club, president of The University of Alabama alumni chapter, president of the ministerial union, board member of the United Way, Boys Club, Girl Scouts, Red Cross, and Inner City Mission. He had also served as the president of the Dothan Kiwanis Club. Bishop Watson has written for the Adult Bible Series, The Living Pulpit and The Upper Room. He has traveled and spoken extensively in over sixty countries around the world. He was a delegate to World Methodist Conferences in Singapore (1991), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1996), Bristol, England (2001), Seoul, Korea (2006), and Durban, South Africa (2011), and has been a part of every General Conference of The United Methodist Church since 1996 in Denver, Cleveland, Pittsburg, Fort Worth, and Tampa. Bishop Watson is married to the former Margaret Lee and has two children, Ben Watson and Elizabeth Watson Riddle. He is also the proud grandfather of Alex and Andrew Watson, and Camilla, Watson and Emmaline Riddle.
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