Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton
Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton was assigned to serve as episcopal leader of the Illinois Area of the United Methodist Church September 1, 2012. From 2004-2012, he served as the resident bishop of the Michigan Area, which includes the Detroit and West Michigan Conferences. Prior to Michigan he served as the resident bishop of the Ohio East Area for eight years.
Bishop Keaton was elected to the Episcopacy in 1996 after serving for six years as the district superintendent of the Aurora District in the Northern Illinois Annual Conference. Prior to that, he was an Associate Council Director in Northern Illinois for eight years responsible for church and society, ethnic minority local churches and spiritual formation. Bishop Keaton also served two local churches: Broadway UMC in Rockford, Ill. and St. Luke UMC in Chicago, Ill. Bishop Keaton was elected to three General Conference delegations with the Northern Illinois Conference and was the head of the delegation in 1996.
An active servant on the general church level, Bishop Keaton served as a member of the General Council on Ministries from 1988-1996. He served as a member of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry from 2009-2012. His past involvement with General Agencies include the General Board of Global Ministry from 1996-2004, and The United Methodist Development Fund from 1996-2004, where he served as president. Bishop Keaton chaired the denominational initiative, Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century (SBC-21) from 1996-2008. His service on SBC-21 ended in 2012. Bishop Keaton is serving as a member of the OCUIR Steering Committee and Council of Bishop’s Leadership Team on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations.
Bishop Keaton graduated with a Master's of Divinity Studies from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary where he later received a Doctorate in Sacred Theology. Awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award from Garrett in 2001, he was also a teaching assistant at Garrett in communications, ethics and society, church and the Black experience. Originally from Fort Smith, Arkansas, Bishop Keaton received his Bachelors of Science degree from Philander Smith College and was awarded the Outstanding Service Award. Philander Smith is one of the eleven colleges and universities supported by The United Methodist Church's Black College Fund.
Bishop Keaton has co-authored two books, “The Confessions of Three Ebony Bishops" with Bishop Edsel A. Ammons and Bishop Ernest S. Lyght and “Our Father, Where Are the Fathers?” with Bishop Ernest S. Lyght. He also contributed to, "God Delivers Me - a Model from Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century.” Bishop Keaton has traveled the world extensively in support of missions and is a frequent presenter at The United Methodist Women Schools of Christian Mission/Mission U across the United States.
Bishop Keaton and his wife, Beverly, have been blessed with three children: Jonathan II and his wife Lisa reside in Illinois with the Bishop and Mrs. Keaton’s two granddaughters, Maliah and Amara. Their adult daughters Tandreka and Anaya reside in Lansing, Michigan.
Bishop Keaton may be reached by email at: bishop@ igrc.org He also writes a monthly article for the Illinois Great Rivers Conference website and regularly posts sermons and reflections.