General Conference in South Africa - 2012 : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

All of us we know that FIFA World Cup is coming to South Africa in 2010, this reflects the potential of our Country to host International events. We have already hosted Rugby and Cricket World Cups. And these are the biggest events. Now let us now think about small events like the General Conference.

The AMEC as a global church all its events must rotate to other Episcopal Districts including those in Africa (particularly South Africa). Please when you answer this, be honest with yourselves, we are going to publish your response in our local newspapers. We (AME Church in South Africa) are laughing stock to other denominations because every four years we go USA to attend the General Conference which never takes place in Africa. AME Church in Africa is 108 years old and we never-ever hosted any Connectional Event.


Rev. TP Landman – General Board member Pastor of Ebenezer AME Church – Welkom (South Africa)

-- Anonymous, August 11, 2004


This is an important question which follows several progressive changes implented via the African Jurisdictional Council at the 2004 General Conference. The AME Church is indeed a global religious institution. There are several international cities within the Republic of South Africa which could host the AME General Conference (e.g. Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria or Durban). The primary obstacles for selecting South Africa as a venue for the 2012 General Conference are the existing membership make-up of the AME Church and the concentration of economic resources. A disproportionate number of AME members along with greater wealth access, reside in the United States of America. This conclusion is not a matter of opinion but based on fact. Until there is an African reversal of these two fundamental conditions (membership and resources) the location of the General Conference will be associated with a USA site for the foreseeable future. These conditions are purely practical constraints and should not be misconstrued as American AME members imposing some form of imperialistic control over our fellow African brothers and sisters. Decisions for hosting the General Conference must be based on the sound principles of prudence not politics. QED

-- Anonymous, August 11, 2004

I believe what is involved here is not political at all. It is simply an economic issue we face here. My own Annual Conference is largely responsible for establishing the A.M.E. Church on the Continent of Africa 108 years ago; we would love to have a Connection Meeting be held there as well.

However, the General Conference has never seen fit to adopt a budget, which is adequate, to serve the present needs of the church. Therefore, future Connectional Venues will be limited as well. It is simply easier and cheaper to fly persons from Districts 14 to 20 to the Continental USA and to provide hosing and sustenance for them, than it would be to fly, sustain and house persons in Districts 1-13 outside the Continental USA.

The inadequacy of the budget has a similar effect on Districts 1-13 as well. Apart from Philadelphia we might never have a General Conference held in Districts or cities beyond the Midland USA again.

Brother Nalton, Bill and I have written and submitted budget proposals, which would increase the General Budget by ten-fold. I feel that such a budget is both a realistic and attainable goal. However, some few of the powers that be saw to it that these proposals would not even get to the General Conference floor to be considered or voted upon.

Until such time as we have a delegation with sufficient conviction and backbone to overrule the powers that be, we can forget any significant change in Connectional venues as well as in many of our programs, colleges and schools.

-- Anonymous, August 11, 2004

Rev. Landman, thank you for raising the issue which was raised before. I think that I understand the arguments advanced regarding the constraints that have to do with the General Conference being hosted by Districts outside of the shores of the USA.

But, be kind to advise us on whether taking advantage of the strength of the dollar against major African currencies would deal with the financial constraints advanced. Could be that the thinking process relating to the constraints is limited to the inward look and missing on some other advantages and opportunities that present themselves to the denomination?

I am glad though the Connectional Lay Organisation is taking the lead in terms of moving beyond the shores of the US. They are piloting taking the events out to Africa through their Connectional Seminar in 2006. The challenge is upon us here in the continent to sell the infrastructure and benefits for the seminar to be on the continent.

-- Anonymous, August 12, 2004

I think the venues for the next 3 General Conferences have already been determined:

2008 - St. Louis; 2012 - Nashville or Memphis; 2016 - Philadelphia

The General Conference has never been held in South Carolina, either; yet, SC has the largest AME contingent in the least amount of land space. Charleston, SC has more AMEs than Baptists. We deserve to host as well. The General Conference has been in every US Episcopal District but the 7th and possibly the 12th (Arkansas & Oklahoma). It's time to consider those SC and South Africa as venues for the General Confernce 2020 & 2024.

-- Anonymous, August 12, 2004

Myron -

I agree completely about the inequity directed towards SC. I raised the same point in a post several weeks ago in another thread (can't find it now) and also indicated that Oklahoma City is perhaps the most central location yet I'm unaware if this city in the 12th has ever hosted a General Conference. The fact that TN will be the host state in 2012 means that the 13th District will have hosted the Gen Con in 1996 and 2012. I believe that every US District should be afforded to host the Gen Con. Chareslton would be an ideal venue for the Gen Con. QED

-- Anonymous, August 12, 2004

I am curious, how is the general conference host city picked. Do districts, ask? Or submit a proposal, like the olympics choose to cities.

-- Anonymous, August 12, 2004


The problem with hosting a Connectional Meeting in South Carolina is the lack of major airports, food facilities and hotel space. I recall attending a Council of Bishops in Columbia some years ago. After driving from Atlanta I was told that there was no available hotel room. I was told that the closest available room was in Florence, SC or Augusta, GA, some 60 or 70 miles away. Neither was acceptable to me. After persisting that the hotel inquire further about it, they finally located a room of a guest who decided to check out early and go back home.

More recently I drove to Charleston for the Fourth of July. To my dismay no hotel space was available once again. Eventually I ended up driving to a small island some 30 miles away and had and drive back and forth to Charleston for the entire Holiday Weekend.

While both Savannah and Charleston host major tourist events, neither has sufficient housing and both are overpriced. They even run out of housing when an Annual Conference is being held. We often have to drive 15 or 20 mile to find food once the late-night sessions end and waiting a couple of hours for service because so many AMEs have decide to drive this far to eat as well--the hotel resturants being long since shut and closed. Many cities simply have no idea of the number of persons who attend AME Events and most are simply unprepared for it.

Because we are primarily a black church, many cities underestimate the impact of hosting us. Many cities find it hard pressed indeed to house, transport and provide around the clock eating facilities while we are there.

BTW Bill, the Spoleto Festival seems like a major event but it does not come close to what it takes to host a major AME Event. As a matter of fact it has been my experience that each event we hold gets successively bigger from year to year. Thus, the cities capable of hosting us have dwindled down to a precious few.

-- Anonymous, August 12, 2004

In response to Dickens' response, when saying selecting African Episcopal districts to host the General Conference based on the existing membership; does the decision to host the General Conference confined to membership of the district concerned? What I know is that the General Conference is about church business and I do not understand what church membership has to do with hosting the conference.

As far as economic resources are concerned, when Fifa and other organization like World Summit can be hosted by South Africa, what does the economy of the country has to do with it. We have the infrastructure to host all the events mentioned by Rev. Landman and so we can host any international event. when coming to the currrency issue, Africa has been sending observers to the connectional paying for their own expenses showing that the difference in currency strength is not a barrier. Hence it is much cheaper for the connectional church to come to Africa to host any other events.

This issue of Africa hosting the GC is not about politics, it is about giving a chance to market the AME Church in Africa and to develop the church in Africa. Some of the Americans I talked with think Africa as a Jungle without hot water and electricity, which is a sign of ignorance. We sing this song "Give a thought to Africa" but we don't practice what we preach.

From: Bro. Dan Leeba - ~ Lay Organization ~ Mt Horeb AME Church - Welkom (South Africa)

-- Anonymous, August 13, 2004

1. Charleston does have a major airport, although no where near what Atlanta has, of course. It has Delta, US Air, American, which many cities large and small have to connections to Charleston. If the Masters can come to Augusta and use its small airport, the AME Church could us the Charleston International Airport.

2. It is difficult to go to any resort town on holidays, especially since Charleston is near the beach.

3. At the General Conference in Indianapolis, I was going to the ariport to pick up my member who was coming in to visit the Conference. I got stuck in traffic and chose to go into a hotel parking lot to circumvent it. I went in that hotel to the restroom and because I had on my "Allen W. Parrott for Bishop" shirt on, this white business guy asked me was I apart of a convention. I told him, "Yes, the AME Church." He asked what AME stood for and I told him. He said that we had the entire city on lock down, that there were no hotel rooms in town. As big as Indianapolis is, much bigger than Charleston, they ran out of rooms. My point is this: Charleston is AME territory. With careful planning we could not only host GC, but make its the most memorable event in the history of the church. Everyday, Charleston is added new and larger hotels to the city. In my heart of hearts, I believe we can host it right now; however, since the sites have already been decided, in 20 years, we would be in even better position to house, host and have a General Conference. Give SC and Charleston the opportunity and we'll make a believer out of the church.

4. The GC sites are recommended by the General Conference Commission who are elected General Conference delegates. Mr. Rudolph Wise, who is a member of my conference is one of SC's members on that commission, I'll ask him what the exact process is.

-- Anonymous, August 13, 2004

Here is the fallacy about rejecting cities like Oklahoma City, OK and Charleston, SC or even Charlotte, NC as viable Gen Con sites. According to the US Census Bureau the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA) population for Charleston is 549,000, Oklahoma City SMSA is 1,070,000, Charlotte SMSA is 1,400,000, Nashville SMSA is 1,200,000, Indianapolis SMSA is 1,300,000 and St. Louis SMSA is 2,500,000 (which includes part of IL). There are major luxury hotels in Charlotte, Oklahoma City and Charlotte. All cities have major international airports. Next to NYC Charlotte is the banking capital of the US. It has NFL and and NBA franchises and is close to South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. As Myron correctly notes, the most prestigious golf tournament in the world is played in a much smaller venue than Charleston, SC. Is anyone willing to argue that the Masters draw fewer attendees than the AME Gen Con? SC has a rich AME heritage. Can we honestly say that St. Louis and Nashville, fine cities which I have spent time, can rival SC's heritage? Who on this MB, outside of the 12th District members, has visited Oklahoma City? Please raise you hand. I suspect few have ventured to the Sooner State yet from a geographical perspective no city is ideally "central". As I've said before I agree wholeheartedly with Philly as the Gen Con site in 2016. St. Louis and Nasville make no geographic sense to me given the superior alternatives like Charleston, Charlotte and Oklahoma City. If I was in a position to choose Gen COn host cities I would select Charleston, SC in 2008, Oklahoma City in 2012 and Charlotte in 2020 and Johannesburg in 2024. QED

-- Anonymous, August 13, 2004

Dear Rev. Landman and Bro. Leebo, please know that there are those in the connection that are discussing the possibilities of conferences and general conferences being held in Africa and that includes general officers. Do not be discouraged. This board is a small sampling of responses.

Bill Dickens has explained well the financial thought that some might raise. And it will take education and presentations of selected sites, for example the city, hotel accomodations, currency etc. I am not even sure if we have even had a general conference in Canada or London. In 2,000 the seventh day adventist had their world convention in Toronto, Canada and had 60,000 participants and toronto was able to accomodate.

We are a connectional church and we do need to meet around the world. There is no question about that and I do believe it is God's will that happen.

Bro. Leebo, I live in the U.S. in a state called Montana in the western part of the U.S. People ask me if we have electricity or are the indians going to attack. Many of my friends back east will not visit for they think we are backward.

The truth is my town is a resort town in the Rocky Mountains, gorgeous, clean, safe, our own airport, hotels, etc. tourists from around the world come to my town, Ted Turner lives in my town, Tom Brokaw has a house, michael keaton lives here, dennis quaid is in the area. But because of preconceived ideas, friends will not come. So, it is not just africa, that people think their is no electricity;-)

Let us work on building strong bridges between churches in africa and the U.S. and deep friendships. Perhaps countries adopting ame churches and corresponding with one another.

God has his hand on this denomination and he has a plan greater than we can imagine.

Perhaps, it would be helpful to share a little about some of the cities in south africa that would be good sites for conventions.

I regret, I have only been to northern africa and would love to visit the southern part of the continent.

-- Anonymous, August 13, 2004

No doubt we all know of cities that would make wonderful host sites for AMEC meetings. One of the keys to promoting your district as a host if no meeting has been hosted before should be to have a written plan to submit to your bishop, and seek your bishop's support in promoting the district as a host site. Los Angeles was in the running as the host city for 2008, but was not chosen. Los Angeles was the host city for the 2001 Bishops' Council, and it was a great meeting. St. Louis poses more challenges, but they can work through those challenges. Please don't get caught up in why your district hasn't been considered, but instead get busy drafting a plan. Call upon some of your talented members who have experience in convention planning. There are many more AMEC meetings and Gen Cons to come

-- Anonymous, August 14, 2004

Rev. Rogers, we really have state of the art facilities in three major cities of South Africa, viz., Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. All these cities have international airports.

In these cities, we also have enough hotels to accommodate more than five thousand people coming at once and still have ordinary tourism going on at the same time.

To illustrate the above, the first two cities I mentioned above hosted international conventions of the United Nations, the recent one took place two years ago, in Johannesburg; viz., the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).

According to expert information, the WSSD was rated the largest UN Summit in the 21st century, bringing together global government, business and civil society representatives together.

Having been involved somewhat in matters of preparations for the Summit, I know that we had accommodation to the point that the numbers of delegates that were projected could not exhaust the prepared places of accommodation we had. Some of the hospitality entrepreneurs complained after the Summit for having not received guests as it was planned and, consequently, made losses when considering the cost of planning involved and the amount of income they had.

Why is it that we think that when the AME meets the cities are full to capacity? Having been involved with the accommodation arrangements for our delegates in Indianapolis, the same happened both in Durban and Johannesburg during the UN Conventions, the angencies that were tasked blocked hotels for the delegates. But, as the conference was proceeding, hotels which were not filled up started getting people who needed accommodation spaces. For instance, while the Crowne Plaza was reportedly fully booked, we took most of our observer delegates to the another hotel closer to the airport and we got information that there was more space in the hotel. To some degree, the argument that hosting cities such as Indianapolis get fully booked when AMEs come around is somewhat a myth.

It is heartening to hear that there are people even in higher echelons of the Church who are raising the point of Africa hosting the Gen Conference. Since the Lay Organisation in the 15th and the 19th are preparing for the 2006 Connectional Seminar, let us see what will unfold and let us keep our ears on the ground.

-- Anonymous, August 16, 2004

The following note outlines Bishop Richardson's perspicacious observations concerning the prospects of the continent of Africa hosting a future AME General Conference. Many thanks to my fellow Hamptonian and General Officer Calvin Sydnor III for providing this important contribution. QED

3. BISHOP RICHARDSON COMMENTS ON THE EDITOR'S COMMENTS OF HAVING CHURCH-WIDE MEETINGS ON THE AFRICAN CONTINENT / CARIBBEAN AREA: There is a phenomenon in Black Church tradition and vocabulary known as "Send Go." You've heard of it on a Sunday afternoon, when at a fellowship service with a Sister congregation (like the one John and Maria White and the New Mt. Zion Church will have with Bruce Francis and St. Paul in Valdosta). After the sermon, some officer will ask, "Do we have any 'send go' money?" That's the money that was SENT by people who did not show up for the service, but did not want to show disinterest in the special effort.

The AME Church is STILL a global church, whether we ALL get up and go to Africa or not. A part of what we do is vicarious ministry. That's what all the bishops have been doing for the past 113 years. It is easier for one bishop to go to Africa with some resources in his/her wallet to be a blessing on arrival than it is to bring the whole church with all the money having been donated to the airline. It is so much easier and cheaper for us to bring 400 people from Africa to the U.S. than it is to send 10,000 people from the U.S. to Africa.

For those of us who served in Africa and the Caribbean, we are very grateful for the offerings that were received during the General Conference on our behalf. We received about $260,000 which was split six ways. That's the SAME amount that it took to bring the 19th delegation alone. Can you imagine how much work the bishop could get done in a district with that amount of money?

No one doubts that the World Methodist Council (in which some of us participate) is global. Those meetings and conferences are held all over the world, but not EVERYBODY attends (not even all of the bishops of all of the Methodist bodies).

Having said that, need I remind the group that we have already HAD good attendance from the U.S. to Districts 14 - 20. Many of us have been going to Africa for one meeting or mission or another for years. Every quadrennial, Episcopal Districts 1 - 13 have sponsored trips with sizeable delegations to Africa and the Caribbean. Some might recall that we took a Bishops' Council to the 16th. It was a first for an official connectional meeting outside of the Continental U.S.

In 1996, during the Centennial Celebration of AMEC presence in Africa, almost all 13 U.S. Districts took great delegations to Southern Africa. In Namibia and Cape Town, the bishops baptized scores of infants and children.

In the 2000 - 2004 quadrennium, many persons (Bishops, General and Connectional Officers, pastors, Deans, Seminary faculty, lay persons and candidates) attended the AJC meetings held at Harare, Zimbabwe; Cape Town, SA; Gaborone, Botswana; Vereeniging, SA; and Johannesburg, SA.

Additionally, two of our major components have already scheduled trips for this quadrennium. Planning is underway for both the Connectional WMS and Lay Organization to take meetings to Southern Africa. It ought to be an exciting time.

But, believe me, it's not a cake walk. I do not intend to be a prophet of doom or a bearer of bad new, but almost every time we have we have taken a large group, someone dies - either while on the trip, or not long after our return.

So, please, do not assume that we do not have an interest in taking a meeting to Africa. It's difficult and expensive. But, c'mon , let's go!!!

Bishop Adam J. Richardson Supervising Prelate of the Second Episcopal District

-- Anonymous, August 16, 2004

Bishop Richardson, can you explain what you mean by saying that Bishops come to Africa with money in their wallet? Doesn’t this money belong to the church account and not the Bishop’s wallet?

-- Anonymous, August 18, 2004

I acknowledge receipt of the matter raised by Rev.Landman.I am much please with the responses received and think that the debate should continue perhaps consentrating more on the historical aspect as well as the social, religious and cultural norms. The need of hosting a G/Conf. in South Africa, should not be seen as a mere financial exercise to the Americans but also as an eye-opener to them with regards our forms and manner of worship. I regard bishop AJ Richardson's response as very naive and lacking foresight. It worries me to read that a bishop can be so exeggarating with regards to figures and monies. I however would like him to retract the statement he made with regards the deeds of their members whenever they would be coming to Africa, or better let him explain what he means by saying that. We can attach so many interpretations to that and I would rather have him explain the statement in more detail. As South Africans and as AME's, I don't think we need to see ourselves as inferior Christians to our American brothers. Bro.Leeba's point must not be left at that but rather should become the motivating factor to us in assuring that we work towards hosting the G/Conf. in Africa by 2024 the latest. As a third generation pastor in this very same church I owe the success of this plan to my ancestors and also the generation to come after me. Be rest assured of my support and willingness to work on this with you at all times.


Jerry Lesshope (The Revd)

-- Anonymous, August 20, 2004

A few points of clarification. First, Richardson's comments are NOT imperialistic or condescending to Africans. His rational views parallel the comments articulated by both myself and Robert Matthews concerning the practicality of hosting the General Conference outside of the United States. As Bob correctly noted until the AMEC can significantly augment our Connectional Budget we can forget about any international site venue of the Gen. Con. Second, Bishop Richardson's were provided by me from another AME communication. I provided his comments on this forum as a source of information since they were germane to the topic of this thread. Efforts to get Bishop Richardon to respond on this site are pointless since he didn't initiate the comments on AME Today. If interested parties would like to get a better understanding of the Bishop's views I would suggest that you simply contact the 2nd District Episcopal Headquarters and being the gentleman and scholar that he is, he will reply to all concerns. QED

-- Anonymous, August 20, 2004

I concur with Rev. Landman that the General Conference should be held in Africa. We do have good hotels in Africa. Although it makes an economic sense to transport 400 delegates to USA than to transport 6000 delegates to Africa.If Jesus"s spirit is with us we would not see the financial burden.

Our economies needs a boost and if we host a big meeting like a General Conference our economies will be revived.The meeting will create jobs and we will be fulfilling our mission.

South African is not the only venue in Africa, we have a wonderful cities in Zimbabwe. Bishop Webester used to say Harare is mini New York. We have 5 star hotels and the stars are rated international.

The church will be motivated in Africa. We will be closing on culture gapes if we often meet in Africa. Members of AME they should start to save torwards hosting a General Conference in Africa.

-- Anonymous, December 29, 2004

I understand the arguments financial, political, etc. The bottom line is this: "If the AME Church is to survive, it must embrace Africa." I I had the authority, every othe General Conference would be held in one of the Districts on the continent of Africa. Here are my reasons: 1) There will be a United States of Africa. The European Union (EU) is a direct response to the power of the United States of America. The next world powers will be The Unite dState of Asia; of Europe; and of Africa. The dominant power will be Africa because of the abundance of natural resources. I won't be here to see it (I'm 71 now) but some who are alive today will see this come to pass.

Be Blessed

pastor paris

-- Anonymous, December 29, 2004

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