Nepotisim in the Church : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

Does the proliferation of nepotism in the church alarm anyone. Many of our larger churches are pastored by the son's of members of the Episcopacy, or second and third generation prechers. Has ability and been replaced by family ties in our greta Zion? Is a preacher without family connections doomed to never get an opportunity to pastor one of our flagship churches?

-- Anonymous, December 04, 2000


Please don' confuse "nepotism" with "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree." The reason so many preachers beget preachers is the same reason Rockefellers beget businessmen, or Fords tend toward the familuy business - it's the family business.

Sometimes there may be cases of nepotism (although I don not personally know of them.) But other times you should understand that the benefactors have also worked hard, and are excellent in their own right. I understand Bishop Adams' father was clergy, yet Bishop Adams is an educated man who accomplished enough in his pastoral years to be elected first in the (very large) class of '72. I can personally attest that Bishop John Bryant was an electrifying preacher as the Pastor of St. Paul Cambridge, and produced fruit in all three of his pastorates. He gre Bethel Fall River from 7 to 70, St. paul Cambridge from 20 to 1400, and Bethel Baltimore from 600 to 6000. The crowds were so large at St. Paul that structural work had to be performed on the church to reinforce it. When he left after 5 years, it was a congregation empowered to do great things.

Frank Madison Reid III, son and grand-son of a Bishop, is also a producer . He was beloved in his year at Eliza Turner, Monrovia Liberia. He did good thingds while at Ward Memorial Los Angeles. If you still see re-runs of "Amen" anywhere, check out the credits sometimes. For earlier episodes, look for the ministerial consultant. And just as his father succeeded Bishop Harrison Bryant in Baltimore in 1964, Frank III succeeded Bishop John Bryant at Bethel. But the church has not "languished" at 6000, it has grown to the 10-12K range.

David Cousin also worked his way up in the system. He was a student, along wqith John Hunter Jr., at BU int he early 80s. He has pastored in Princeton NJ, Deleware (I think), and Emmanuel NY before taking the Helm at Bridge St., whose last elected bishop was R. A. Hildebrand in 1972.

And while there are those who have reached the pinnacles of our Zion with family connections, there are also those who are achieving without it. grainger browning worshipped at Union Baptist church in Cambridge, from which place he would "sneak" over to St. Paul to catch then Rev. bryant's sermons. He now pastors Ebenezer Ft. Washington, a charge he took from 17 members in 1984 to 12K+ today. Bishop McKenzie was prominent in many fields, and her family - connected in so many areas around Maryland - was not known for their ecclesiastical roots. Today through her God-given gifts, her abilities to translate skills from disparate fields into successful urban ministry, she has pierced the stained glass ceiling.

Children of prominent ministers and leaders within the church have wonderful access growing up, but let's not confuse "connected" with "nepotism." While their connection may provide them an opportunity, our church still expects each of its leaders to produce on their own merit. In many cases, they have done exactly that.

-- Anonymous, December 04, 2000

I must echo the comment regarding the Ministers mentioned. In addition we cannot exempt Rev. Henry A. Belin III who is Pastor of People's Institutional in Brooklyn, NY. He first Pastored in Nigeria, Rhode Island, and now Brooklyn. He has a record of success that he has accomplished because of his skills and abilities. He is community minded and has a vision as well as work ethic that is second to none. In addition his Brother Roderick D. Belin, who has just been appointed a Pastor under his father in the 7th District also has a proven record. He was youth minister at St. Phillip's in Atlanta, and then Assistant Pastor to Dr. Flake at Allen. He has proven his ability on his own as a preacher and servant. David Cousin has established himself on ability as well as Rev. Jamal Bryant who has started his own chuch. Empowerment Temple AME in Baltimore and this church started Easter Sunday and last count he had 1400 members and was beginning more community development programs.

-- Anonymous, December 05, 2000

I appreciate the comments of those who have participated but I think that you mention exceptions that prove the rule. Access as it was stated is an interesting thing. It creates influence, which creates an inherent unfairness to those who do not have it. While there are some who have achived there may very well be some who have not and are kept afloat by being close to the tree. Also this is not a family business. By saying that you insult all of those who are in the profession. Men and women are called by God to preach. If it becomes the family business then it strays from being God's business. Rockefeller, Chase, Walton, Ford and many others can call their sons into the family business but unless a man be called by God he has no business in this bussiness. Man does not have the authority to call man to preach. Preacher's in the family business as you put it are a cancer to the body of Christ. Achivement was also mentioned. It is far easier get to home plate if one is born on second base. There are many talented men and women who are called by God to do great things that the church may miss out on their abilities because they are not connected. This would be great loss to this church. The Catholic Church was tossed into disarray because of connections, is this any different.

-- Anonymous, December 05, 2000

No one should be promoted based upon their connections. Many of those mentioned have had to go through the same educational training as anyone else. College, Seminary, and many have their Phd's. Nothing was in a sense handed. It is much easier to get to home from second if you are already on base, but a pure hitter is able to hit a homerun on their own. The test of this is the growth of the ministry. God proves all things and makes all things known. Who can call into question the will of God if God sends down Good and allows evil to happen it is all within the will of God. The strides he is allowing me to make within African Methodism is based upon my ability, yes I know a number of influential people but my ability is what makes me stand out and it is what makes my work evident. If a Bishop puts someone in place his character and judgement is called before not just man but God, and God will set things in order.

-- Anonymous, December 05, 2000

God calls whom He wills. Our example is the Bible and the prophets called by God. Some were sons and daughters of prophets, some were farmers, some were of royal blood, all were vessels of clay--flawed by the blood of Adam. The will of God was accomplished then and it will be now. As there were false prophets among them, so there are false prophets among us now. Can we weed them out completely? I don't think so but let the wheat and the chaff grow together, God will separate them at His coming. Blessings

-- Anonymous, December 05, 2000

None of those mentioned have their Ph.D. By the way Min. Jerome are you n=in school somewhere?

-- Anonymous, December 05, 2000

Min. Jerome

I appreciate your comments, but does the same hold true when a ministry shrinks. If a person is placed and they do not perform what is the renedy in the church. As a loyal AME for 40+ years I have seen many of the "connected" come and many of them go. I have seen many of them do mediocre to down right awful jobs in churches. Not once have I seen one of them demoted after a legacy of mistakes but I have seen far more of them promoted time and time again not on merit but on the favor of man. Down here where i am from that is called bad business and it hurts the members of the church that are left behind in the wake of these people.

-- Anonymous, December 05, 2000

Rev. Roderick Belin received his D. Min from Union Theological Seminary this past May, as well as Rev. Bryant has received his Phd. In regard to the ministries that fail in everything there is a challenge to make it succeed. I know a number of Pastor's who have gone to churchs and made them into successful ministries. A number of Bishop's sons have done this as well. I personally would like to do the work of the Lord in a situation that is in dire need because I want to make full proof of my ministry. Whenever I visit a church small or large I always look around the church and community and envision the work God would have me to do in and with it. My degree is in marketing and I am preparing myself to pursue my M. Div. In addition I plan on getting my Phd. I think of the work that Rev. Rogers is doing in Montana, she is making full proof of her ministry that it can be what God will have it to be.

-- Anonymous, December 05, 2000

I think Rev. Paris has echoed my sentiment pretty fairly. There are children of preachers in the minstry, sometimes "unto the third and fourth generation", just as there were children of prophets in the bible.

The focus on "family business" was not intended as an insult, but a visual mechanism. Please let me elaborate. In a home where the word is taught, where holiness is lived, where relationship with God is cultivated, where prayer is offered and answered, I have observed that God tends to visit such a home and seek from its residents those who will carry out His will and Calling. Now such a home may contain good seed and bad seed. We certainly see that in the biblical example of Eli, where Hofni and Phineas abused their priestly role, but Samuel (not a blood son of Eli) heard the call of God. Thus, when I speak of "family business" in this context, it is of a sense that the desire to serve, the commitment to change, the will to preach, has been practiced, and has been a positve influence on the children pf the home. I agree with you. No one should go into the ministry by way of pressure from mankind: it should not automatically be the manifest destiny of children and grandchildren, of husband to wife or wife to husband. However, if the Lord has need of a servant...

Please note that in the examples I cited were those who were not necessarily connected to the ecclesiastical hierarchy. One had been a school teacher. Another had been a broadcaster and journalist. Rev. Johnathan Weaver (Greater Mt. Nebo, MD) had been in the MBA program when the Lord called him. Rev. Thann Young was a professional working for Polaroid. Our Zion is filled with many who "made tents" before their own Damascus Road experience. Perhaps some of our other readers will share their own testimony. With respect to Dr. Bryant, he earned a D. Min. from Colgate Rochester Divinity School in either 1973 or 1974. He also has received honorary degrees, among them a degree from BU School of Theology in 1986. I'm sure the bios of other ministers will reflect their earned credentials as well.

-- Anonymous, December 05, 2000

In the early 1970's, I sat at the feet of one of the fathers of The AME Church who bluntly told me that the AME Church is a paternal church. One would take care of their cildren by the wife and even those by the concubines would be taken care of. The late Rev. A Lewis Williams did not bite his tongue. He called it like it was! Offices were bought.

If GOD was not in the AME Church, then we woudl have destroyed it a long time ago!. Williams challenged us to go where we were sent ang by the help of GOD make it a Bethel! Promotions also come from building up a charge so that someone else would want it bad enough to work at getting that successful pastor away from that charge.

The preachers with the last names of Belin and Bryant, I am familiar with. They are making full proof of their ministries. Much is required of them for much has been given to them.

-- Anonymous, December 07, 2000

To say that nepotism is not a reality in the church is to be blinded to a reality that is so prevalent that it evokes nauseum. Most churches are run as small fiefdoms--with Bishops and pastors intent upon furthering their personal agendas by surrounding themselves with family members and a variety of lackies, flunkies, and gophers. The first lady becomes the co-pastor, whether she's called or not--etc., etc,. By the way, and I think this was already mentioned, Union theological seminary does not offer the degree of D. Min.

-- Anonymous, February 01, 2003

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