July 22, 2016
It was a long, hard run for Rev. Bob Farr, but it paid off when he crossed the finish line and was elected Bishop at the South Central Jurisdictional Conference. The last Bishop elected from Missouri was Bishop Rhymes Moncure, who was elected in 2000. Farr was a runner-up during the 2012 episcopal election. He was elected on the 35th ballot, after 5 p.m. on the second day of voting.
A lifelong Missouri resident (aside from the seminary days), Farr grew up in Creighton, and first found himself in the pulpit in Daugherty, a rural church near Harrisonville, when he was a sophomore in college. He had already been to Annual Conference twice as a youth delegate.
Farr was a student at Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, where he majored in organized communications and fire safety. Following that he attended seminary at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. While in Texas, he was a youth pastor at Greenville and served on a three-point Celeste Charge.
When he came back to Missouri, Farr first served at Randolph Memorial in Kansas City. He then started a new church in Lee's Summit called Grace UMC. His next appointment was at Church of the Shepherd in St. Charles. Every church he served in as pastor doubled in worship attendance.
Farr’s legacy in the Missouri Conference is most notably the Healthy Church Initiative, a consultation and coaching process focused on church renewal. The process has now been replicated in many Conferences across the country.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in the past 25 years working on congregational turnarounds,” Farr said. “I believe any church can be successful.”
Farr mentioned several times in his press conference that he was humbled to be elected and very appreciative of the great support he received from the Missouri Conference delegation, as well as other friends.
Farr said he feels serving as the Director of Congregational Excellence for several years has helped him develop many practical skills that will be helpful in his role as Bishop. He gave thanks for being able to work alongside Bishop Robert Schnase.
“I’ve been blessed to be around Robert Schnase,” Farr said. “I’ve learned so much. I feel like I’ve got a head start. I have a deep passion to see the Methodist movement revive again. The foundation for that is the Annual Conference. If the Annual Conference gets healthier and do better, churches get healthier and do better. I’m going to do my best to serve the Lord and help the Annual Conference, clergy and lay people catch the spirit of Jesus Christ and make disciples who transform the world.”
Those comments were all made before Bishop Farr knew where he would be assigned. The assignments were announced later that night and were met by cheers with everyone in the room.
The next day, after Bishop Farr was elected but before he was consecrated, he and all the other Bishops met with their delegations for breakfast. This was at 7 a.m. The assignments had been made around 11:30 p.m. the night before. Bishop Farr was presented the welcome packet to Missouri that the directors had prepared, explaining the Conference structure and the various ministries, and a gift basket containing a Missouri map and various Missouri items.
Although it was a celebratory time, Bishop Farr’s first statement as Bishop was a somber one as he learned that Rev. Leo House, a licensed local pastor serving the United Methodist Church in Hayti, had been killed in a car accident the day before. House’s wife and adult son were also injured in the accident. He asked Rev. Cody Collier to lead the room in prayer for the family.
Bishop Farr said he is looking forward to getting to work in Missouri.
“Let’s try this experiment together and work to keep showing the rest of the country what we can do,” Bishop Farr said. “I’ll do my best to help us be the best Conference we can be.”