December 31, 2011, marked the official retirement of the Rev. Dr. Ernest Shaw Lyght, a graduate of Drew Theological School’s class of 1968, as a bishop of the United Methodist Church.  Growing up in a Methodist parsonage, Bishop Lyght has dedicated his life to the church and serves as a shining example for all alumni and students. Through his deep knowledge of the faith, understanding of the world, and enduring commitment to theological education, he has brought great distinction to Drew University for nearly five decades. We are honored to have this opportunity to recognize his years of service to the United Methodist Church, to the larger community, to general church agencies and boards, and to his alma mater.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts in history from Morgan State University, he came to Drew for his Master of Divinity degree. He later went on to Princeton Theological Seminary, where he earned Master of Theology and Doctor of Ministry degrees. Ordained deacon and elder by the Peninsula-Delaware Conference, Bishop Lyght served four pastoral appointments, including ten years of pastoral ministry at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Montclair, NJ, followed by seven years as a district superintendent.

He was elected as a delegate to the 1984, 1988, 1992, and 1996 General Conferences. He has served as a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), from which he received the Freedom Fund Award, and of Black Methodists for Church Renewal. He has also received honorary degrees from Bloomfield College, Centenary College, Drew University and, West Virginia Wesleyan College. Bishop Lyght was elected Bishop in July 1996 and assigned to lead the New York Annual Conference, and, in 2004, was assigned to serve the West Virginia Area.

In a recent post on his blog,, Bishop Lyght reflected on his long and illustrious career: “I am grateful for the opportunity that the church has given to me to serve as a local church pastor, a district superintendent and a bishop. I have met so many wonderful people along the way. These folk have inspired me, taught me, encouraged me, and challenged me.” It is true that Bishop Lyght has done all of these things – and more – for Drew University. During his tenure as a Trustee, he worked to enhance the life and reputation of the Theological School and the University as a whole, generously donating his time, talents, and treasure in the support of Drew’s present needs and future goals, and for that we are forever grateful.

We at Drew wish him well in his retirement, and hope that he is able to enjoy more time with his wife, Eleanor Bell Lyght, their two sons, Eric and Erwyn, and three grandchildren, Corinne and Shawn and Kennedy.

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