Retired Bishop F. Herbert Skeete dies at 90
February 12, 2021 / By Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga Director of Communications - Council of Bishops
Bishop F. Herbert Skeete, a retired bishop of The United Methodist Church, passed away at noon February 11, 2021.
Bishop Skeete was elected to the episcopacy at the 1980 Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference and assigned to the Philadelphia Area for eight years. In 1988, he was assigned to the Boston Area for eight years. He retired in 1996.
In 2002, Herb was reactivated by the Council to serve as Interim Bishop in Zimbabwe for a year.
“Bishop Skeet’s death leaves a void in the Council of Bishops and in our hearts. Even in retirement Bishop Skeete brought his passion for justice to the COB, a passion that had guided his entire ministry. His strong voice and steady leadership were gifts to The United Methodist Church. He leaves a great legacy of love for neighbor,” said Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, president of the Council of Bishops.
Colleagues from “the NEJ College of Bishops extend their deepest sympathies to the family of Bishop F. Herbert Skeete. He was a treasure among us, advocating for justice always, serving as a patient mentor and providing visionary leadership. His legacy continues on in the lives and ministries of the areas he served,” said Bishop Peggy A. Johnson, president of the NEJ College of Bishops
Bishop Skeete was born in the Harlem section of New York City. His childhood was spent in Barbados, West Indies, through high school. Following four years in the U.S. Air Force, he attended Brooklyn College and he would later receive a bachelor’s degree from Drew University. He served South Ozone Park Church of the New York Conference as he worked on his Master of Divinity degree at Drew University Theological School.
He was ordained deacon and elder by Bishop Lloyd C. Wicke. Later, he earned Master of Sacred Theology degree from New York Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from Drew. He also took graduate work in social psychology at the New School for Social Research in New York City. He received honorary degrees from Philander Smith College in 1983, Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1986, Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1986 and Africa University in 1996.
For eight years, Dr. Skeete was Pastor of Union United Methodist Church in Queens and then for the twelve years that followed was Pastor of Salem United Methodist Church "in the heart of Harlem."
He was elected a delegate to the General Conferences of 1972 - 1980 and to the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conferences 1968-1980. For eight years he was a member of the General Board of Global Ministries, serving as Vice-President of the National Division. He served eight years as a member of the Board of Higher Education and Ministry where he chaired the Division of Higher Education during the first four years and served as President of the Board for four years. He attended World Methodist Conferences in Denver, Dublin, Hawaii, and Nairobi, and was a member of the Executive Committee for two years. He served another eight years with the Board of Global Ministries (1988-1996) as President of the Board 1992-1996.
He served as a trustee of Union Theological Seminary, New York; Drew University; and The American Bible Society. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of Boston University, Gammon Theological Seminary and Africa University, Zimbabwe. He had been a popular religious radio commentator in New York City and moderated a monthly television program in Philadelphia. He enjoyed carpentry, bicycling, camping, sports, reading and travel.
He is survived by his wife, Shirley Clarissa, two sons, Mark and wife Terri, and Michael and wife Linda, and three grandchildren, Matthew, Ajani, and Andrew. He is also survived by a sister, Pearl Cumberbatch in addition to a host of nieces and nephews.
Funeral arrangements are still pending.