Should Bishops Pastor? : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

Among the the keys to future prosperity of our Zion that Dr. Reid cites in manifesto Up from Slavery is that bishops be allowed to pastor.

I know that in many of the new denominations there a perponderance of bishops who are pastors, how would that work in the AME church. Could a bishop be impartial given that he or she is also a pastor? And since we could safely assume that bishops would pastor the larger charges who would do the work of the parish pastor? I know that there are staff ministers but when would the bishop of the 5th for example have time to manage First AME Los Angeles and travel the district?

-- Anonymous, July 10, 2004


Reid's Manifesto makes a careful distinction about the Biblical function of Bishops as "Overseers" versus the corrupted practice of overseers used during the form of American chattel slavery. Too ofetn, according to Reid, our Bishops have confused the two meanings of overseer. If you understand and accept the Biblical idea of Bishops as Overseers it is hard to argue against Bishops as pastors. Bishop Vinton Anderson's office has a sign on his door "Chief Pastor 2nd Episcopal District". I wwas always impressed with that sign when I visited his office in Wash DC. QED

-- Anonymous, July 10, 2004

Perhaps I do not understand or know the biblical definition. Please let me know where to read about it. I am familiar with the COGIC method and in many ways it would mean losing our connectional flavor for a more congregational feel. Would this type of move better serve the zion?

-- Anonymous, July 11, 2004

We should realize that many of the "bishops" of other denominations are "self-consecrated" bishops, as opposed to our process of election by the General Conference Delegates and then consecrated. Recently, I saw a Baptist church whose pastor was a "bishop" overseeing several other Baptist churches in addition to being the pastor of a local congregation. I see nothing wrong with a bishop or presiding elder as a temporary pastor in the event no qualified elder or deacon is available. That really should not occur because the church has the ability to send its pastors to any charge, anywhere, at anytime. Be Blessed

-- Anonymous, July 11, 2004

If I understand the position of Bishop (based on my readings of A.M.E. Church History AND the Bible):

The Bishop was a seed-planter. Like Paul, He (and I am speaking of the Four Horsemen, hence my use of "he") went to various locales, and started churches. Once they had reached critical mass, He would send for a pastor to guide the new flock.

A Bishop is a pastor of pastors (according to my Bishop, Bishop Bryant). In other words, a Bishop is a leader of leaders. It doesn't make sense to lead from the rear by taking a pulpit assignment. They should, IMHO, be filling those spots with qualified elders, and training the ones who are not qualified to be qualified.

Just my two cents....

-- Anonymous, July 12, 2004

The term "bishop" as used recently by some denominations, including some Baptist churches, is not usually the same office of bishop as used by the Methodist churches. Several of the Baptist pastors in Columbus now use the title "Bishop", but there is no appointment duties inherent in their positions. Neither do many of them have oversight beyond their own congregations.

According to the Timothy's and Titus, the qualifications and duties of the elders and bishops are reasonably identical, so in some cases, bishop, pastor, elder, and some other terms are used interchangeably. Thus, it is very important to understand the definitions used by others for these terms in relation to how AME's use the terms.

E.g., the officers in the Presybterian church are called "elders", but this is certainly not the same as we (AME's) use the term. Likewise, Baptists have "deacons", but it is not the same as a "deacon" in the AME Church.

(Also, perhaps it's not to be ignored that the terms used in the Timothys and Titus are ALWAYS masculine...but it's a bit moot to open that can of worms. The GenCon has spoken!)

-- Anonymous, July 12, 2004

Hold the phone on those masculine terms!

"Aner" and "gune" each have three different meanings.

"Aner" - husband, masculine figure in marriage, BUT it is also equivalent to our expressions "you guys" or "all y'all".

"Gune" - wife, feminine figure in marriage, BUT it also refers to the bride of Christ (in Revelations). The bride of Christ is men and women.

We have had this discussion before in previous threads (I know, because I have typed this several times). I know there are several people that disagree. But the Word is the Word (provided you study it in its original language to get the real meaning).

-- Anonymous, July 12, 2004

Should Bishops pastor? I say emphatically yes and I further assert that some active Bishops do in fact pastor. But not in the limited way in which we sometimes view pastoral duties. Pastors and their families need a pastor--a "Cheif Pastor", someone who encourages, coaches, corrects, teaches and does all of those things that a pastor should do at a local charge. This role of Bishops needs to be emphasized much more. Indeed, the ability to pastor pastors (people skills, compassion, wisdom, the ability develop leadership) should be seen as one of the key qualifications to be elected a Bishop. For this reason I don't think active Bishops should pastor local charges. Their pastoral skills need to be focused on nuturing the spiritual health of the pastorate and parsonage.

-- Anonymous, July 15, 2004

Brother Byrd, it is always great reading your posts an you offer unique insight regarding the need of pastors and their families. Please keep sharing your thoughts.

I am very blessed in that I have Bishop Bryant as my prelate,and one of his strong gifts is that he does pastor to his pastors, recently I have been ill, and Bishop Bryant stayed in touch with me constantly to make sure I was o.k. It meant so much to me.

When my daughter began looking for seminaries she should attend, Bishop Bryant was their to help, and encourage her. She is going to graduate theological seminary in berkely, california. What our bishop did for my daughter, is what my pastor did for me when I was searching for a seminary. It is a scary process.

In some denominations clergy have support groups and mentors to help one another. Perhaps that is a model to look at for our zion.

-- Anonymous, July 15, 2004

Rev. Rogers, It's a blessing to "read your voice" again. And praise God for Bishop Bryant and others who are truly Cheif Pastors.

-- Anonymous, July 15, 2004

I think the question is not whether Bishops should "pastor the pastors", which, in addition to Bishop Bryant, most of them do what she has described. The question is whether Bishops, like in the COGIC church, should pastor an actual church and in addition to that, pastor the "pastors". I think it would be interesting to see Bishops in the AME church pastor actual charges. Since many Bishops spend their off time (i.e. when they are not running annual conferences) preaching in various pullpits, I think it would be interesting if they would serve a local parish and the people as a pastor. I think it could work. I have an AME-Zion pastor-friend who is interested in adopting this same model for the AME-Zion church as well, based on the COGIC model. God bless.

-- Anonymous, July 16, 2004

I'm not overly impressed by the COGIC model and, from what I've observed (admittedly at a distance), their Bishops do a lot less in terms of administration and management than ours do.

Having Bishops pastor would also stir up a hornet's nest worth of issues, and could potentially "clog up" the career paths of some promising Pastors.

-- Anonymous, July 16, 2004

The short answer to this question is No. A Bishop should not pastor a Local Church.

The work of a bishop as we know it in the A.M.E. Church is much too extensive to also serve as pastor of a Local Church. For instance in my own Episcopal District, the Bishop must oversee and serve as Administrative Head of more than 500 churches, 6 Annual Conferences, 17 Presiding Elder Districts, Pastors, Elders, Deacons and all the programs of the clergy and lay.

This of course is similar to the New Testament Church, in which the Twelve Apostles and Paul served in the capacity of Bishops in the Church. There is no indication that any of these served in capacity of Pastor of any local church, but rather as Overseers of the entire Church. This fact is borne out but Epistles they wrote to commend or correct a problem, which they found their traveling from place to place. Thus, Paul writes to the church at Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Colossea and Philippi, James writes to people of God in all the world and Peter writes to the churches in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.

The geographic and demographic parameters, which faced the bishop in the Early Church, are similar to those, which face the bishops in the A.M.E. Church. Thus, the work of pastor is best left to Elder under their care and Bishops should be left to do the work of administration and oversight.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2004

Would someone please refresh my memory and list the "Four Horsemen" for me. I do know that these bishops were responsible for a great deal of the church's growth and extension, but I simply cannot recall all of their names.

I do remember that particularly impressive was the growth of the church in South Carolina.

Thank you.

A. D. Williams

-- Anonymous, October 20, 2004

Bro. Gibson, there is an excellent write up on the Church's history, including descriptions of the Four Horsemen at:

The Four Horsemen: Richard Allen William Paul Quinn Daniel A Payne Henry Turner

Bro Bob

-- Anonymous, October 20, 2004

There is no relationship to the definition of Bishops/Presiding Elders/Pastors in the early church and the same offices in the AME Church. The Bibical definitions have no authority in the AME Church today. Each person who reads the Bible are free to understand it in his/her own way. Therefore it is by necessity that the Disciple define the offices in the church which must be changed periodically to reflect the environment within the ministry of the church.

Be Blessed

al paris

-- Anonymous, October 21, 2004

Dear Brother Bo,

Thank you so much for the prompt response to my question about the Four Horsemen. I also appreciate the recommended web site. It is astounding what our Founding Fathers did to promote the growth and expansion of our church even with the meager means they possessed and the racist climate of the country during their times.

Thanks again.

A. D. Williams

-- Anonymous, October 21, 2004

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