What happened to the Africans

greenspun.com : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

I am amazed that once again the African candidates were side lined and the aspirations ignored .I wonder is it because Africans have not the money and are Africans to stay step children of this Afican Church. The frustrations grow and the church continue, as nothing is wrong. There is something wrong.I cannot believe that integrity lays in the USA and Africans have nothing to contribute. Maybe the time has come that Africans stop being used ,bought by US$and show that people of intergity is also found in Africa.

-- Anonymous, July 15, 2000


Pastor Ursula,

Your observation about the exclusion of indigenous Africans in the recent GenCon 2000 is undoutedly true. If nothing else GenCon 2000 showed that we as AMEs need campaign finance reform NOW!!! When filthy lucre substitutes for honesty and integrity in determing who gets elected Bishop, the outcome is spiritual corruption. Imagine if Jesus was under cover attending this year's Conference disguised as a delegate from say Macon, GA. I have no doubt he would chase out many of the folks who turned his house into a den of thieves and not the House of Prayer!! As long as Episcopal Districts 14-19 remain under the direction of American Bishops cries of neocolonial rule continue. Until we get this money thing corrected no more bishops need be elected.

-- Anonymous, July 15, 2000

There are a couple of African candidates who could have been elected on merits, but we have failed to get even one slot. We are not only outnumbered, but we have to reduce the number of candidates to at least two at the newly approved African Jurisdiction Summit prior to the 47th Session. Africa must invest money in these candidates by whatever means. If you cannot beat them, join them by the rules they play. Options are wide-open, and we have to be innovative. God bless

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2000

I believe the Africans need to be patient. It is true that they seemed to be unimportant during the General Conference, but in due time, there will be an African Bishop. Unfortunately, the entire issue is at the hands of the delegates. There may or may not be a bill passed that makes a slot for an African Bishop. On the other hand, I believe the African population of the church can put into there minds the grand testimony of Bishop McKenzie, and present a candidate that can be elected on merit alone!!

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

"Merit Alone" is a challenge for our African candidates for several reasons. (First to clarify, there have been two bishops elected from Africa: Bishop Gow in 1956, and Bishop Senatle in 1984. Bishop Talbot, elected in 1972 is from Guyana, also outside the continental US).

1) African candidates are not well known. For some reason, we do not hear of the works and triumphs of our African brethren. In prior days, this could have been accomplished through the Christian Recorder and through the testimony of bishops assigned to Africa who would then spend four months touring the US drumming up funds for their district. Today, with the wonders of the Internet, we have a forum that is not licensed or controlled, allowing the free, unremunerated flow of information. This should be the place wherein information about the challenges and successes of African ministry can be shared.

2) African candidates are not well supported. One of the difficulties facing all 42 candidates this year (and the analogous challenges throughout the years) has been to raise money making the delegates aware of the candidacy. Sometimes our victorious candidates have been those who have come from a background of wealth. Others have managed to raise what they need to "get the message out." Fundraising appears to have been a challenge for our African brethren. I know personally of one candidate who has been perseverant and determined, but woefully underfunded. I liked the idea of the Christian Recorder presenting "all" the candidates in a uniform way on one page of the product, but the last issue I saw only had 34 pictures, and I believe there were 42 candidates. Was that a matter of funding? Perhaps Rev. Hanse can share some of the challenges he has encountered in this area.

3) The electorate is decidedly Pro-American. With 13 stateside delegations, building a coalition among the 6 overseas districts, even if it were unified, would still run against the roadblock of American jingoism. I recall cries in 1996 of "The South! The South!" Were there similar appeals this time around? Each of the US regions wants to feel that it has "adequate" representation on the bench. This year, for example, we elected 2 from the east, 1 from the north, and 1 from the south. I am sure you will see a concentrated effort from the west/5th next time around, especially with 7 seats coming open. But this localized American interest only heightens the hurdles over which our African candidates must soar.

4) We have no uniform method within the connection of evaluating "Merit". Is there a checklist? How do we trade impacts of ministries in various areas? How does the successful leadership of a pastor in an underfunded country compare to the successful leadership of a pastor in upper-middle-class America? "Merit" in the case of the episcopal office should be revelation of sufficient skill and holiness (if I knew how to make that word bolded using text boxes, I would)to provide leadership, guidance, vision, and personnel assessment of 200-400 ministers. Big does not equate with merit. Deep pockets do not equate with merit. We as a church need to evaluate during this qudrennium what really should be the determining factors.

I am saddened to hear that the African Jurisdiction congress before the next GenCon is needed to produce 2 candidates. I am glad for the 2 candidates, but are we elminating more that are meritorious?

If we are doing this for the African Jurisidction, perhaps we should do something similarly in the states. This GenCon we had 42 candidates. Should each district conduct primaries at the district level, and reduce the candidates it presents to just 1? (again, "meritorious" candidates may be left out in such an arrangement).

I propose that the church at large needs to consider how to address this very difficult and challenging problem. Possible solutions include: determining more effective ways of communicating information on all candidates in an unbiased manner; restricting the number of candidates that run (we only nominate 2x the number of trustees elected at the local level - should there be some sort of prior contest or primary to accomplish this at the episcopal level?); evaluate (AGAIN!) redistricting; establish tighter criteria for candidate qualification; level the financial playing field (giving up perks will be a tough challenge indeed).

These proposals are offered for the benefit of discussion.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000


Your "epistle on merit" provides many provocative thinking points. I agree that African candidates for the Episcopacy are relatively unknown and woefully underfunded. I also agree that current delegate representation make for a de facto "American election". However, while I agree with most of your analysis I don't find merit as problematic as you imply. It seems to me that ultimately election of bishops represents an affirmation about character not cash, principle not popularity, hope not hypocrisy. Merit is the only unblemished indicator we have to ensure that fairness and opportunity can prevail in our society. It is an effective deterrent to anarchy and other ignoble forms of self-governance. While I welcome your thoughtful suggesstions for reform let's not throw the baby out with the baby water.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2000

I think it is a shame that we have so little information coming to us from the African districts. Sometimes it seems that they are a separate church. This past year we challenged our Conference YPD'rs to gather as much information as they could about any of those districts, not just the Bishops and Episcopal Supervisers. It was very difficult. I look forward to people of the caliber of newly elected bishops Vashti Mackenzie and Gregory Ingram to see that information is made available to us and particularly our young people so that we can form some kind of bond with our brothers and sisters on the African continent. I pray that they encourage the development of really good web sites so that we can study and communicate with each other. I believe that we have to do better, and because God has a way of taking care of these things, I believe we will do better.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2000

I personally feel that the African Districts should have Bishops native to that continent. It's time for the American domination to end. The truth is many want to be a Bishop, few to none want to serive in Afica. Native African Bishops is the only answer.

-- Anonymous, July 29, 2000

I am an Episcopal Candidate from the Fifteenth Episcopal District pastoring the historic St. James AME Church in Dallas, Texas.I was the only candidate to be endorsed by Bishop John Richard Bryant and the Tenth Episcopal District, not because I am an African, but because of my proven successful leadership in the Tenth.If you sincerely believe in leveling the playing fields by electing an African candidate to the episcopacy on merit, then please assist me by inviting me to dialogue and underwrite some of my campaigne expenses. My address is 926 Wolf Creek Circle, Dallas, Texas, 75232. Thanks for your support. Your fellow servant in Christ, John J. April

PS. Many Bishops who pledged their support,walked away from me when I could not pay up.

-- Anonymous, November 02, 2000

Again, study the transition from Saul to David. The process of birth is painful. Someone once said that if a woman could remember the real pain of childbirth, all of us would be only children. No pain - No gain. My brother, God is trying to move you to the position He wants you to be. He took you out of Africa to the US, educated you, trained you, equiped you -- and now, just as Moses led the Children of Israel out of Egypt, you too must lead. It is not going to be easy, but you must go.

-- Anonymous, November 02, 2000

First I thank God for using Rev. John in informing the church. We all lament that information is difficult This forum provides that, warts and all. Thank you Rev. John. Not one to dwell in the past, I must go back to General Conference 2000. The misconception is that the delegates control the votes but in reality it is the Bishops. I was saddened by Rev John April's comments in the posting above, saddened but not surprised. The electronic voting reduced the time for mischief between votes but there were still obvious deals being bartered.My candidate was one of the victims of these tactics. The fact is that the Bishops control the delegations. An outspoken delegate opposing may find himself/herself replaced by an alternate. Is it possible for someone to post the composition of the African Jurisdiction Congress? If it were not for this forum, we would not even know that it exists. I agree with Brother Jeryl, the use of Internet will "force" a change in the denomination's way of doing our business. When things are brought into the light, change will have to come. While the lay can stay informed, we must not take everything we read here as facts. The Internet can also be used to spread divisiveness. The enemy knows about the Internet also.

-- Anonymous, November 02, 2000

Correction!!! Rev John April is a candidate for the Office of Bishop not from the 15th Episcopal District but from the 10th Episcopal district. Rev John april has not been on African soil for years now and so we as Africans see him as more AMerican and out of touch with African issues. He is a son of South Africa but his has lost his heritage and so we need to turn our attention to candidates like Andrew Josias who has exemplified leadership in the 15th Episcopal District as assistant to many a Bishop who has presided over the 15th Episcopal District. Americans are familiar with the works of those Africans who came to study here in the United States (decided to stay) established themselves here in the USA which makes Americans more apt to vote for those people. Example, Wilfred Messiah, spent most of his time here in the United States and was very nearly elected because the Americans knew of him. He pastored a little congregation in Pennsylvania, not more than a 100 members, has done nothing significant for African Methodism in Africa. He went home about 2 years ago, was appointed the Dean of Wilberforce and decided to run as a son of Africa. Well, Americans knew him and so they voted for him and not for the real candidates from AFrica. As Americans, you need to take the time out to spend some time with the African candidates and delegates and hear from them who is most suitable for the job or is it ministry of the Bishopric. The Rev Andrew E Josias is well equipped and prepared for the office of Bishop. Those Africans residing here the USA should not run as Africans but should run as Americans. Don't use us after all you deserted us. You will be seeing and hearing more of the Rev Andrew E Josias, a true son of Africa and the person most suited for the task of Bishop.

-- Anonymous, November 02, 2000

I must concur with those who say that the delegation is controlled by the bishopric. It is usually done in the spirit of having a unified district. Many delegates mindlessly vote as they are instructed. But I believe with the emergence of the internet and the exposure to canidates that can be obtained thru this medium, delegates can begin to make informed choices regarding candidates. One can only replace so many outspoken delegates before one runs out. Delegations need be prayerful regarding their choices...since they affect all of African Methodism.

-- Anonymous, November 02, 2000

Rev. April then is a true African-American. I consider myself an American of African descent so that clarifies it.

-- Anonymous, November 02, 2000


My dear brother in Christ, May the joy and peace of our risen Savior be your constant companion. You are very correct in your observation regarding my episcopal district.Let me restate it for you . I am a candidate from the Tenth Episcopal District who was born and raised in the Fifteenth Episcopal District.I run under the banner of the Tenth District as reflected in my campaign literature and documents filed with the General- Secretary's office.I am the only endorsed candidate of the Tenth District. If you were an African you would know my involvement with Africa.You choose to remain anonomous.Please tell me the name of your tribe.Rev. Josiah's is my friend and brother and guess what,I too support his candidacy.I find your statement,"Those Africans residing here(here? I thought you were in Africa?) in the USA should not run as Africans but Amricans", most outlandish, to say the least.So since you live in a white neighborhood, should you run as a white man? See how ridiculous that sound? Malcolm X said, if you put a cat in the oven, do you get biscuits?( No harm intended, I'm just having some fun.)We have sent American bishops to Africa for over 100 years and Africans have accepted them. Do you think the Africans would frown up on me, a home boy? I speak Afrikaans, Dutch, German and some Xhosa, what do you speak, my "fellow African"? Brother, I love you because I have made Jesus my choice.Don't miss heaven for the stuff down here. Not even the bishopric is that important.

-- Anonymous, November 09, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ