Francis Enmer Kearns

Francis Enmer Kearns

Francis Enmer Kearns (12 December 190529 January 1992) distinguished himself as a Methodist Pastor, a member of denominational boards and agencies, as a Bishop of The Methodist Church and the United Methodist Church (elected in 1964), and as a Visiting Professor of a United Methodist Theological Seminary. Bishop Kearns also holds the distinction of being the first Resident Bishop of the Ohio East Episcopal Area of The Methodist/United Methodist Church.

Birth and Family

Kearns was born in Bentleyville, Pennsylvania, the son of George V. and Jennie May (McCleary) Kearns. He married Alice Thompson 1 September 1933, and they had three children.


Kearns graduated from Bentleyville High School. He earned his Bachelor's degree from Ohio Wesleyan University. His B.D. degree is from Boston University School of Theology.

In 1930 Kearns was awarded a Jacob Sleeper Fellowship for post-graduate studies in theology in Berlin, Germany and Edinburgh, Scotland. He completed his doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh in 1939.

Bishop Kearns also received honorary degrees from several Ohio schools, including Mount Union College.

Ordained Ministry

The Rev. Kearns began his ministry in the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1931. He served the following appointments in Pennsylvania: Dravosburgh; Christ Church in Pittsburgh, Ben Avon, Uniontown, and Asbury.In 1945 Francis was appointed Senior Minister of the Wauwatosa Avenue Methodist Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He served in this appointment until elected a Bishop.

Episcopal Ministry

The Rev. Dr. Francis Enmer Kearns was elected to the Episcopacy by the 1964 North Central Jurisdictional Conference of The Methodist Church. He was assigned to the newly created Ohio East Episcopal Area. During his twelve years as the Resident Bishop of the East Ohio Annual Conference he saw many strategic changes made, being a steady guide as those changes took place. Chief among these events was the uniting of the Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist conferences in Northeastern Ohio.

Bishop Kearns served on various denominational boards. He was a delegate to World Methodist Conferences in Europe and the United States. He was a member of the Rotary Club of Sebring and was a 33rd degree Mason.

Bishop Kearns retired from the active episcopacy in 1976. He then became Visiting Professor at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio. In 1988 he and Alice moved to Copeland Oaks, a retirement complex in Sebring, Ohio related to the United Methodist Church.

Death and Funeral

Bishop Kearns died of cancer and heart complications 29 January 1992 at Alliance, Ohio. His memorial service was held 4 February 1992 at Church of the Savior U.M. Church in Canton, Ohio. Bishop Edwin C. Boulton presided at the service, assisted by Bishop Judith Craig and Van Bogard Dunn, former Dean of M.T.S.O. Internment was in Oak Grove Cemetery, Delaware, Ohio. Francis was survived by his wife; by his sons, Rollin T. and Francis E., Jr.; by his daughter, Mrs. Margaret Baldwin; by four grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by three sisters and six brothers.

Episcopal remembrance

Bishop Boulton noted at Bishop Kearns' memorial service that at the service of consecration when Francis was elected Bishop, Francis and Alice were asked, :"Will you show yourself gentle, and be merciful for Christ's sake to poor and needy people, and to all strangers destitute of help? Will you maintain and set forward, as much as lieth in you, quietness, love, and peace among all men; and faithfully exercise such discipline in the Church as shall be committed unto you?" Bishop Boulton then remarked, "Francis said he would, with the help of God. And they did." Bishop Boulton concluded by saying::"The 86 years of Francis Kearns were empowered by great affirmations. But undergirding all the rest, making it the supreme affirmation of his life was this: 'For I am convinced that there is nothing in death or life,...nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.' (Romans 8:38a, 39b) That's why on the night he died Francis could say to his wife and daughter in his hospital room, 'Turn off the lights now, let's go to bed.'"

ee also

*List of Bishops of the United Methodist Church


*The Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church []
*InfoServ, the official information service of The United Methodist Church. []
* Journal of the 1993 East Ohio Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, Stuart P. Stephens, Journal Editor, Vol. 1, pp. 87-88.

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