Bishop finds new home in church’s parsonage

Having moved August 8 from the former episcopal residence in Phoenixville, Bishop Peggy Johnson and her husband, the Rev. Michael Johnson, are now the distinguished tenants of Otterbein UMC in Mont Clare, residing in its parsonage at 201 Walnut Street, Mont Clare, PA 19453.

Their new home is in Upper Providence Township, Montgomery County. Built in 1968, the modest parsonage, next door to the church, is a split-level house of about 2,600 square-feet on a half-acre of land. It has four bedrooms, two-and-one-half bathrooms, living and dining rooms, a recreation room, a kitchen and an attached garage for a single car.

“The good people of Otterbein did a lot of work inside the house, and it is quite comfortable,” said the bishop. While used primarily for Otterbein’s pastors, the parsonage has also been a temporary home in recent years to the Rev. Mary Miller, former Central District Transitional Resource Assistant, and two newly arrived Korean-American pastors, according to Paul Fisher, chair of Otterbein’s trustees.

Purchased by the conference in 2006, the former episcopal residence was a frequent venue for fellowship and hospitality among conference groups and visitors. It should be sold soon, which would help the conference retire the mortgage, reduce housing expenses and further reduce the unfunded liability for pre-1982 clergy retirees by 2021. The 2016 General Conference voted that bishops no longer have to live in an episcopal residence and can receive a housing allowance instead.

“I will continue to connect with people at churches and at the conference center for food, conversation and connection,” said Johnson, explaining that hospitality and fellowship will continue to be a part of her episcopal ministry. “It is who I am.”

When a new bishop is assigned in 2020, she or he will choose whether to have an episcopal residence or a housing allowance.