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1978 Alumnus Bishop Bruce R. Ough Named Distinguished Alum

June 30, 2020
Bishop Bruce R. Ough, Photo Credit UMNS

Bishop Bruce R. Ough, a 1978 alumnus of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, has been named Distinguished Alum. In addition to Ough, Rev. Sue Laurie, a 1995 alumna, was also named Distinguished Alum (To read more about Laurie, click here). Each year Garrett-Evangelical chooses two alums to be honored as Distinguished Alums. One alum is chosen from the most recent 25 years of graduates, and one alum is chosen from alums who graduated over 25 years ago. Both Ough and Laurie will be honored at the 163rd Commencement service, originally scheduled for May 22, 2020, on Friday, May 14, 2021.

“I am deeply honored to receive the Distinguished Alum Award from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary,” said Ough. “I was privileged to be in the first entering class of the newly formed Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Little did I know at the time how profoundly the seminary would shape my professional identity, form me spiritually, and set me on a life-long course of learning and the pursuit of vital piety, social justice, and evangelistic passion and integrity. I will be eternally grateful to Garrett-Evangelical for this essential foundation. This Distinguished Alum Award should rightly be credited to the seminary more so than to any vital ministry, leadership, or witness I have provided the church on behalf of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

"I am deeply touched by Bishop Ough’s response to this recognition and to the significance he attributes to his education at Garrett-Evangelical in a special moment of its history,” said Dr. Lallene J. Rector, president of Garrett-Evangelical. “His is a living witness to the transformative power of faith deeply lived and Christian service rendered to leadership in the church and beyond. We are proud to call him one of ours!"

Ough received his master of divinity from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 1978. After graduating from Garrett-Evangelical, Ough served as council director of the Dakotas Area for four years. In 1982, Ough became director of the Oakwood Spiritual Life Center in the North Indiana Annual Conference, a position he held for three years. In 1985, Ough moved to Iowa where he served seven years as the council director of the Iowa Conference, then five years as District Superintendent of the Cedar Rapids District of the Iowa Conference before being appointed senior pastor of the 2,800 member St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1997. Ough was in this position when he was elected to the episcopacy in 2000 and assigned to the Ohio West Area of The United Methodist Church. After 12 years in West Ohio, Ough was assigned to the Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area in 2012.

In addition to these local ministries in seven states across the Midwest region, Ough has served on numerous jurisdictional and general church agencies, including the North Central Jurisdiction Committee on Episcopacy, the General Commission on Church Unity and Interreligious Concerns, the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, the General Board on Global Ministries, and the denomination’s Connectional Table. Ough has also published a number of professional and devotional articles, and is a noted leader in the areas of spiritual formation, leadership development, and new church development. He is currently a member of the E. Stanley Jones Foundation Board of Directors.

Ough served as President of the Council of Bishops from 2016-2018 and provided outstanding leadership to the Council and The United Methodist Church during a very challenging time. As always, he led with grace, dignity, humility, and courage. Ough will be retiring from the Dakotas-Minnesota area episcopacy as of January 1, 2020. His retirement will be a vocational retirement as he has been appointed as the executive secretary of the Council of Bishops.