Who Will Be Our Next Bishops?

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GenCon is only seven weeks away! As we come "into the final turn", I am growing excited about what this year's conference will hold. We have had a separate, well-reasoned thread on female bishops. Now the question to CyberAMEs is "Who will be our next bishops?"

Some of you will be delegates, and may therefore not want to tip your hand. Perhaps many of you, like me, are pundits who are curious about how our Zion will proceed into the next millenium. Not having an official vote, the AME Today forum offers an excellent venue for the "Pew View".

My observations are these. Several candidates have been running for a long time (Dunn, Eddy, King, Norris, Simmons, Williams). Perhaps GenCon will finally acknowledge them. There is consideration also for home rule, which favors our African Brethren (Mkwanazi, April, Makhene, ...). The call for female representation on the bench would be addressed by McKenzie or Tyler-Guidry. There are also candidates who lead high-powered, active, diverse ministries (Attles, Green, Ingram, McKenzie, Tyson, Williams). Is there anyone running from a Connectional Pulpit (pulpits that have sent bishops to the Bench)?

Perhaps we won't know the winning candidates until we know what faction/influences are most dominant: longevity/tradition, self-determination, gender, Economic backing, power base, connections...

-- Anonymous, May 30, 2000


Jerryl, Handicapping the next two bishops for our Zion is risky but "innocuous fun". Your vast knowledge of the candidates surely dwarfs my familiarity of those eligible. Nonetheless, I will go with Norris and Green [gotta go with my 11th homie] in a predictable male sweep. Now what I find quite interesting are individuals who I'm confident would make exemplary Bishops yet their names are conspicuously absent from your list. Consider among the missing Fred Lucas, Floyd Flake or the erudite Vandy Divinity professor [her name escapes me momentarily]. These individuals are of extraodinary talents. Why are they not among the candidates? Leadership requires choosing the "best and brightest". This is essentially what WEB DuBOis had in mind when he coined the clumsy yet useful concept "talented tenth". Also, how about thinking out-of-the-box and look to candidates outside of the denomination? This is not without precendent. Many people forget that the successor to Daddy King's pulpit in Atlanta was not a Baptist preacher. James Forbes pastors the most influential Protestant pulpit [Riverside Church in NY] and he is Pentecostal!! Why not consider extending the Episcopacy to a Cain Hope Felder or a prominent Baptist, COGIC or Presbyterian clergy/theologian. With the exception of some of the larger churches in our denomination we are on spiritual life support in meeting the mandate about church growth. Perhaps some one from the outside can offer a fresh and new perspective to reclaim the distintiveness of this Zion. I'm ready for bold changes not just perfunctory Amens and business as usual. Are you convinced that we are ready for the 21st century challneges?? Do our current choices meet the DuBois litmus test?

-- Anonymous, May 30, 2000

Bill, you raise some interesting candidates at the forefront of our Zion. I think 2004 will be a far more interesting year if we stick to the "planned" transitions, with 8 slots opening up at that time.

Let's assume we maintain districting status quo for the moment. In 2004 the leading candidates would be those who are not elected this year, and those who are in connectional pulpits in that year. Given that, I predict we may see candidacies emerging from Los Angeles (either Murray or Murph), Atlanta, Tennessee, Baltimore/Washington, New York, and Chicago/Detroit.

Let me share a little about some of the folks you mentioned. Floyd Flake (Allen Cathedral, Jamaica NY, 1st District) would be an excellent episcopal candidate. He has demonstrated tremendous leadership at Allen, taking it from a very fine church in 1976 under Bishop Ming to the immense ministry it is today. Allen's umbrella under Rev. Flake includes a new $25M+ sanctuary, a school K-8, a senior citizen home, a "business district", and several self-help businesses. Dr. Flake has published a wonderful book, "The Way of the Bootstrapper". He is ably assisted by his wife, Dr. Elaine McCollins Flake. His time in Congress has cultivated a strong understanding of the financial process, enabling him to synthesize ways of funding ministry that go beyond chicken dinners and fish- fries. I believe Dr. Flake would make an excellent bishop. One side note: Dr. Flake served as assistant pastor to Bishop Bryant in the early 70's at St. Paul, Cambridge.

You also mentioned Fred Lucas. Dr. Lucas is not currently pastoring in the AME church, unless something has changed in the last annual conference cycle. He did commendably well at Bridge Street, Brooklyn NY, 1st District, following Presiding Elder Lowe (who followed Bishop Hildebrand). Dr. Lucas,in my last conversations about him, was doing some things with Harvard Divinity School and Chase Bank. I think it's time for me to get back in touch. A side note: Dr. Lucas served on the ministerial staff of St. Paul, Cambridge, under Bishop Bryant while he was a student at HDS.

That "woman" you mentioned at Vanderbilt I presume to be Dr. Renita Weems-Espinoza. Dr. Weems is certainly one of the more controversial figures in African Methodism. A gifted writer (she was a columnist at one point for Essence, I think), professor (At Vandy), Dr. Weems is known for challenging the status quo with a lucid, acerbic approach that cuts right to the heart of the matter. She does not tolerate foolishness. A side note: while a student at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, Dr. Weems was a member of the gospel choir at St. Paul Cambridge under the pastorate of Bishop Bryant.

There are many great leaders, visionaries, activists still in the AME church. People such as Chip Murray and F.M. Reid III maintain an active ministry that fulfills the social gospel characteristic of our founder. The church still has the brilliant mind of people like Jeffrey Leath at Mother Bethel, Philadelphia (1st), Louis-Charles Harvey at Metropolitan, DC (2nd) and Sarah Davis at Bethel, San Antonio (10th). The church has creative youg innovators in Grainger Browning (2nd), Kenneth Robinson (13th), George Moore Jr, (13th). The church still sees a caring heart throughout the connection. Rather than seek leadership from the outside, I believe we as a people, as a connection, should encourage those who already shine brightly to step forth and take the challenge of transforming our mission back to relevance.

I may start a separate thread, based on your comment, on the organic weaknesses that promote cancers within our Zion.

-- Anonymous, May 31, 2000

Jerryl, I would like to announce my availability to serve as your campaign manager when you decide to run for Bishop in 2004. Based on what I have read from your thoughtful threads you appear to meet the qualifications for Bishop which Paul outlines in his Pastoral Epistles. Perhaps we can start a Cyber poll to test the waters :-)

I really appreciate your development of my candidates previously mentioned. Now I know how King Agrippa felt when he sat in awe listening to Paul's lucid testimony about Jesus in the book of Acts. You are one sharp brother!

-- Anonymous, June 01, 2000

Well, let me add my two cents worth "pew view". Of course, I have no idea who the next bishops will be, but from what I've read in other threads and "rumors" about "promises" allegedly made during the previous GENCON, I'm beginning to wonder where or if the leading of the Holy Spirit plays a role in determing the election of the next bishop. (Actually, I wonder that about some of those already elected,too...but I digress) It's noted that some of our brightest and best are not even candidates - are there provisions for bishop candidates to be drafted?

I'm not really too learned about some matters at the connectional level, but it seems to me that we need to do more running of our connection like a business. That would mean immediate DOWNSIZING through the reduction of districts and consolodating some of our connectional offices. E.g., do we really NEED separated publishers/editors for each of our publications? What would it really take to effect such changes when everyone zealously guards it's turf.

I would really like to see the voting delegates have a solemn convocation prior to elections, put aside all promises and commitments to particular candidates and truly seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in selecting the next bishops.

Oh well - maybe some day before we're completely bankrupt (financially, not spiritually).

-- Anonymous, June 02, 2000

Firstly, no need to elect new bishops. Let us re-align the episcopal districts and perhaps the 16th may be intergrated into existing districts. Perhaps realigment of districts in especially southern Africa may reduce one more district. It is being said there is no money in the Connectional Treasury, and I believe, cutting the overhead cost should be our basic point of departure. I just have this sickening feeling that each new breed of bishops owes another favour for those who helped him this round. There are individuals that are to be rewarded. Thus, we are blowing hot for nothing. God bless.

-- Anonymous, June 21, 2000

Hello, I want to say that I think that people shouldn't run for office of a bishop, I think that the presiding bishop should be the one who decides, and I think they should be chosen according to what the presiding bishop sees in them. It is good that people desires to become a bishop, because Acts 3:1 says if a man desires the office of a bishop, then he desires good work. God Bless

-- Anonymous, January 03, 2002

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