Connectional Church : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

This question is a very pressing matter to me. As I read many of the various responses concerning Bishops and the various districts I find that there is a huge problem with the Connectional Church. It seems to me that there is some harsh feeling that make it seem like it is the continent of Africa vs. the United States. Many of the responses are often critical of the current structure of things, or some form of non-inclusion. Please clarify what is the current state of affairs regarding the various passions and emotions. Please keep comments friendly towards one another and exercise love. This is fact finding so please let us be as one family with many branches that need better strengthning and understanding. Growing has many pains.

-- Anonymous, September 08, 2000


Let me preface my observations by noting that I have been an AME for only 28 years. In that time I have grown to love the fellowship of our Connection.

My observations have revealed a schism that derives from a lack of inclusion of our African brethren in the corporate leadership of the church. In another stream I noted several contributing factors that exacerbate this problem. From what I have heard through personal contact with members of the 14th District, and read from the 15th's web site and other comments, there is a great resentment toward our leadership because of this lack of inclusion. It is the feeling and belief that the problems of the church in Africa differ sufficiently enough from the church in America that indigenous leadership is desired, if not required, to focus the corporate energy of those churches in the right areas. To this end the African Jurisdiction was established to solidify African representation to the church at large. Further, there have been proposals in the past to Federate the church, thereby assuring that African districts are led by indigenous Africans.

The current structure does not favor the supervision of African districts by African leadership.

  1. In the church's 184-year elective history, only two bishops (Gow in 1956, Senatle in 1984) have come from Africa.
  2. African candidates are not well known to the GenCon delegates. Of the 42 candidates in the last election, only 33 had their pictures in the Christian Recorder (I have not seen an issue since April, so I may be off by a couple here). Another way of becoming known is by stories submitted to the Recorder. There were few emanating from Africa, or more accurately, there were few reported from Africa.
  3. African candidates are not well financed. Rev. Hanse and Rev. Pillay have reported in this discussion forum and on the latter's web site about the horrendous pay ministers in Africa earn. Consider that one tithe check from one member in a church like Allen Cathedral, Jamaica or Ebenezer, Ft. Washington, would pay a pastor's annual salary in Mozambique, and you begin to get the scope of the financial disparity. Compound that with the fact that African delegates consume much of their funds just getting to the US-based GenCon, and financially they are starting several steps behind.

    Episcopal elections are increasingly financial in nature, as candidates get literature, meals, videos, posters, and paraphernalia out to the delegates in their pursuit of the office. This is one of the things that has led Bill Dickens to call for Campaign Finance Reform.

  4. The Office of Bishop is a highly coveted position. Consider that there were originally only 2 slots slated to be open this year, but 42 candidates on the ballot. Of these, I can identify 6 that are from Africa, yet after doubling the slots to 4, no delegate from Africa was elected. I think this contributes to the sense of rejection .
  5. There are a number of factors that fall in the area of allegation. In the interest of journalistic accuracy and fairness, I shall not elaborate on these.

For serious change to occur within the present system, we as a Connection must embrace the reality that not all bishops elected must come from the United States. This is an interesting challenge, for each delegation wants to see their favorite son/daughter do well. In the absence of success of our "own", delegations soon embrace a candidate from their region. The entire church wants to feel represented on the bench, but the church at large is not yet committed to indigenous representation.

There is much room for prayer as we steer into the next century/millenium.

-- Anonymous, September 08, 2000

I abhor affirmative action but maybe this is what is needed. Blessings

-- Anonymous, September 08, 2000

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