Jonathan Folts elected 11th bishop of South Dakota

Posted May 6, 2019

[Diocese of South Dakota] The Diocese of South Dakota elected the Rev. Jonathan H. Folts as its 11th Bishop at its Special Election Convention in Pierre on May 4.

One of four nominees, Folts was elected on the fourth ballot. Folts, the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Essex, Connecticut, received 40 votes in the clergy order and 103 votes in the lay order. Thirty-eight clergy votes and 96 lay votes were necessary for election on that ballot.

Folts earned his Master of Divinity and his Doctor of Ministry degrees (in Missional Church Development) at Virginia Theological Seminary. He is married to the Rev. Kimberly Folts; they have three children.

“Thank you for your perseverance, thank you for your trust, thank you for being so open to the Holy Spirit,” Folts said in addressing the convention via telephone. “Thank you for your generous invitation to serve Christ with you. I am deeply honored, deeply humbled, deeply grateful – and very, very excited for what lies ahead of us!

“By the grace of God our Creator, steadfastly following in the footsteps of our Savior Jesus Christ, trusting in the full power of the Holy Spirit, and with the help of all the good people of the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota it is with a humble heart that I accept your invitation to serve and lead as your next bishop,” Folts said in his statement after accepting the election. “I pray and firmly believe that God will equip us all with all things necessary to do His will in this beautiful part of God’s kingdom.”

The other nominees were:

  • The Rev. John Floberg, Rector of St. Luke’s, St. James’ and Church of the Cross on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation;
  • The Rev. Mark Story, rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Edmond, Okla.;
  • The Rev. Robert Two Bulls Jr., Missioner of the Department of Indian Work and Multicultural Ministry for The Episcopal Church in Minnesota, and Vicar of All Saints Indian Mission, Minneapolis.

Pending consent of a majority of the church’s bishops with jurisdiction and the diocesan standing committees, Folts will be ordained and consecrated on Nov. 2, with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry as the chief consecrator. Folts will succeed the Rt. Rev. John T. Tarrant, who has served the diocese since 2009 and will retire in July.

Folts, 51, is a life-long Episcopalian who was raised in a clergy family in the Dioceses of West Texas and Northwest Texas.

The Diocese of South Dakota, encompassing 78 congregations, has the largest Native population in the Episcopal Church.