Leontine T.C. Kelly dies at 92

July 7, 2012 at 1:25 PM
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OAKLAND, Calif., July 7 (UPI) -- Leontine T.C. Kelly, the first black woman bishop of a major Christian denomination, died at the age of 92 in California, officials said.

Kelly had been sick for a long time and living at a retirement home in Oakland when she died June 28, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

Kelly, born March 5, 1920, was named bishop of the United Methodist Church in 1984 when she was 64 years old. At that time she was only the second woman to hold that post in the United Methodist Church and the first black woman.

Along with being a spiritual leader, Kelly considered herself a social and political leader, as she spoke out for the inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church, ministered to AIDS patients and spoke out against nuclear weapons and armed conflict.

"All my life, my political and social and spiritual selves have all moved together," Kelly told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2002. "I just could not separate them."

Kelly retired from her post as bishop in 1988 but continued to speak at conferences. After her retirement, Kelly also taught at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif., and the Hartford Seminary in Connecticut.

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