Why the silence?

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There is about a year and a half left and then we are going to the General Conference, however, there seem to be a total silence accross the Districts of the African Methodism. One doesnot hear anymore about the pressing issues for the General Conference.

What is cooking in your District? Has the candidacy litsts changed from our last postings both for Bishopric and General Officers? What pertinent issues are being put forward to herald substantive discussion fueled with intelligent arguments?

In Africa we are preparing to go for an another session of the Africa Jurisdictional Council. I am just thinking how time may have influenced the consensus build in Gaborone, botswana and what new dynamics one may expect during this session.

Come on Bill, Alton, Matthews etc. get the boll rolling let us try to have live discussions back on the Board. It is only my sister Denise trying very hard to have something on the Board for our soul and mind.

-- Anonymous, November 25, 2002


Dear Brother You are quite right about the recent silence on this board. Much has happened in the United States and around the world and this is the "Pre-Thanksgiving" season for Americans.Their celebration is very close to how Christmas is celebrated in Bermuda. But allow me a brief stab at some issues the Church will face in 2004.

Global Integration and Indigeneous Bishops

2004 must herald the most important statement of the African Methodist Episcopal Church as we seek to Minister in this New Millineum. While there is agreement that more Bishops should be elected from outside the United States there does not appear to be a plan that will find consensus. 7 possibly 8 spaces will be hunted by hundreds of candidates, most from within the United States. Will the Church again leave the candidates(from outside the United States) outside the reach of Episcopal Honors? Bishops Talbot, Anderson, Ming and Senatle will be no more than just memories after 2004. My suggestion is to set out a number 3 or 4 to be candidates from outside the United States and the rest from within the U.S.

Economic Development

The Church is under a tremendous financial strain as our Brother and Sister Denominations feel as well. WE have designed various components for financial empowerment but must support them. This is the only way to succeed. These entities must then plow back into the Church part of its proceeds so as to strenghten both the Church and its business opportunities. We have had the most brilliant ideas for decades but little follow-through. My suggestion here is to follow the vision and specific parameters set out in the 1972 Book of Doctrine and Discipline of the A.M.E. Church. It created the Office of Ecumenical and Urban Affairs with a clear mandate of economic empowerment.

Ministerial Conduct

Sexual misbehaviour and misconduct must be handled far more rigidly. We must have a code of conduct throughout our ranks and have it enforceable. This area alone is crushing the growth and development of too many of our Churches and their Programs. Their needs to be an established requirement for removal and rehabilitation for offenders before return to the pulpit (in my Opinion).

Financial Management of the Church

We must stop this absolute nonsense of paying a Bishop $54,000.00 per year. They work harder than Fortune 500 C.E.O's (whether we approve of them or not) and answer to thousands of our members. If we paid them better I believe there would not be such a rush to provide as many love offerings as we do. Each Bishop shoud have a starting salary of $150,000.00 per year.

This should enough for a few others to give their opinion Rev. Biwa God Bless You and my Bretheren in the home of most Blacks around the world.


-- Anonymous, November 25, 2002

Rumors about my alleged conspicuous silence are not completely true. I am engaged in a few projects which require my attention and less time allocated to this BB. However, Rev. Biwa's comments about the AJC merit serious dialouge. I am very much concerned about the "demands" and direction of the AJC as it pertains to the 2004 General Conference. I think the current political reality suggests that electing two indigenous African Bishops is feasible. Electing more than two is simply unrealistic. I would like to offer a proposal for discussion. For lack of a better idea and shameless originality let's call it the 'Dickens Compromise'. I would like to see more African and other non-US candidates contesting for the General Office positions. I think the General Officer in charge of Global Witness would be an ideal position for a candidate fluent in several languages along with extensive international experience. This would make many African candidates extremely attractive for filling this position. I would also strongly consider an African theologian to be considered for the position of Church Growth & Development. This position, problably more than any other General Officer position, requires skill at growing and organizing churches. The future growth of the AMEC will not be defined within the contiguous 48 United States but in countries and provinces outside the US borders. Finally, I would also like to see these two offices headquartered on foreign soil with appropriate indigenous staffing. My preference would be the Republic of South Africa. Electing two Bishops and two General Officers would be a tremendous accomplishment in helping to move this Zion forward in the 21st century. QED

-- Anonymous, November 25, 2002

While I applaud my friend from Florida's idea, I think 2 African bishops may still be a little "lean". If we do elect 7, or as many as 8, I would see no issue with 3 being from the continent, or from "abroad."

Here's my thinking. As we look to the transformation to a more inclusive church, this quadrennium presents an opportunity not normally seen. The normal number of seats on the bench is about 4. By electing 7, if we fill 3 from Africa now, it is very reasonable to add 1 per subsequent quadrennium in 2008 (3 seats) and 2012 (2 seats) or 2016 ( 4 seats). Thus, by 2016 we should have achieved a target of indigenous leadership for the conference, while maintaining an ongoing cultivation and development of leadershuip within the states as well.

Certainly one of the concerns with so many bishops elected is the financial load. The church macde a move to address that in 2000, by changing the reitirement funding for bishops and officers elected henceforward to a 403-like program, driven by a percentage (12%?), and ongoing during the time of service, as opposed to the previous 50% of current salary. Thus, even though the pension load for bishops in 2004 could be as high as carrying 10 active bishops, as we look forward there will be less of a load.

A side-effect of this is time in office for a candidate. It used to be that we would not elect an "old" candidate, requiring our bishops to be able to serve at least 12 years. But if we have indigenous leadership in Africa, and if we are not carrying a pension load past the time of active service through the use of a 403-like plan, then a new bishop could serve as few as two terms in office. This would allow more senior candidates to be considered. Further, a mix that included more senior candidates along with indigenous bishops would ensure a turnover on the bench on the US side that is similar to what we have today. With only 13 US positions, a 20-year service track might reduce the number of slots in any given quadrennium. (I am still working the statistics on this; as I get hard data, these speculations will be replaced by the results.)

As for the current state of candidates, I fear that my list has gone stale. Without an up-to-date Christian Recorder, I am somewhat at a loss to the voice of the Connection. So any data you have to update the List of Episcopal Candidates would be appreciated.

-- Anonymous, November 27, 2002

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