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Leontine Turpeau Current Kelly is a retired American Bishop of the United Methodist Church. She was born 5 March 1920 in Washington, D.C., one of eight children. Her father, David D. Turpeau, Sr., was a prominent Methodist minister, who later served four terms in the Ohio House of Representatives. For a period of time he also served simultaneously as a Pastor and a District Superintendent. Her mother, Ila Marshall Turpeau, was an outspoken advocate for women and Blacks and a founder of the Urban League of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Leontine's first marriage (to Gloster B. Current) ended in divorce. They had three children: Angella P., Gloster B., Jr., and John David Current. Leontine then married the Rev. Dr. James David Kelly, a United Methodist minister (now deceased). Following her husband's death, Leontine adopted his great-granddaughter, Pamela Lynne Kelly.


Leontine earned a B.A. degree from Virginia Union University (1960) and has done graduate work in economics, history and humanities at North Texas State University, the University of Cincinnati, and the College of William and Mary. Leontine served as a public school teacher in Richmond and Northumberland County, Virginia for eight years.

Leontine competed the Course of Study for Ordained Ministers in the Virginia Annual Conference of the U.M. Church by attending summer school at Wesley Theological Seminary (1970, 1971). She earned her M.Div. degree from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia (1976).

Bishop Kelly holds honorary doctorates from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (1984), DePauw University (1989), Christian Theological Seminary (1989), Virginia Union University (1989), Nebraska Wesleyan University (also 1989), Bennett College (1991), Willamette University (1990) and Dillard University (1992).

Ordained Ministry

Leontine became a Certified Lay Speaker in Virginia in the late-1960’s. She then served the Galilee Church (1969-75). She was ordained a Deacon by Bishop William R. Cannon in 1972 and an Elder by Bishop W. Kenneth Goodson in 1977.

Leontine served on the staff of the Virginia Conference Council on Ministries (1975-77), directing social ministries. She then served as pastor of Asbury-Church Hill in Richmond, Virginia seven years before becoming Assistant General Secretary of the U.M. General Board of Discipleship with the portfolio of Evangelism. Leontine also served on the Health and Welfare Ministries Division of the General Board of Global Ministries.

Episcopal Ministry

Although a member of the Virginia Annual Conference in the Southeastern Jurisdiction, Leontine was elected to the Episcopacy by the Western Jurisdictional Conference of the U.M. Church (only the second woman to become a Bishop in the U.M.C.). She was assigned to the San Francisco Episcopal Area where she served until her retirement in 1988. Bishop Kelly also served on the U.M. General Board of Church and Society, as the President of the Western Jurisdictional College of Bishops, and on the Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops.

Bishop Kelly was the 2002 recipient of the Thomas Merton Award. She also has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.


  • The Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church [1]
  • InfoServ, the official information service of The United Methodist Church. [2]

External links

See also

  • List of Bishops of the United Methodist Church
  • Thomas Merton Award
  • National Women's Hall of Fame