For the first time, following a pattern of other large Protestant denominations cutting costs by cutting administration, the United Methodist Church in Minnesota and North Dakota and South Dakota will be led by one bishop. The Rev. Bruce Ough, who has been a bishop in the West Ohio Conference, was named last month to the new position; he begins Sept. 1.
The Rev. Deborah Kiesey, bishop in the Dakotas Conference for eight years, will move on to the Michigan conference. In the 30 years ended 2010, membership in the UMC has dropped by a third in North Dakota to about 17,400, by 30 percent in Minnesota to about 101,000 and by about 22 percent in South Dakota to 36,000, according to a survey by the Association of Religion Data Archives.