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AME Church Elects New Leadership and Begins LGBTQ+ Discernment Process at 2021 General Conference

At the General Conference new bishops, general officers (department executives), and members of the Judicial Council were elected. The five incumbent general officers were retained.

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Bishop Anne Henning Byfield
President of the Council of Bishops

Bishop Silvester S. Beaman

Bishop Frederick A. Wright

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bishop Marvin C. Zanders II

Bishop Francine A. Brookins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 51st Quadrennial Session of the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church met from July 6-10, 2021, at the West Concourse of the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. Over 1,600 delegates met as the church’s supreme governance body to review and change the denomination’s laws and policies, receive reports from its agencies, and elect denominational leadership.

Due to restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 200 delegates representing countries on the continent of Africa were unable to travel to the United States and were to participate via a satellite location in Cape Town, South Africa. After the South African government restricted in-person gatherings due to public health concerns, a virtual platform was created to allow these delegates to participate in the deliberations virtually.

“The 2021 General Conference was truly a test of the denomination’s resilience and capacity to adapt,” said Dr. Jeffery B. Cooper, general secretary of the AME Church. “In spite of the last-minute difficulties, we were able to ensure that all members of our family were able to share in this important aspect of the life of our Church. I am proud of our planning team and grateful to the AME Church leadership and delegates for their patience and understanding as we made this shift.”

In addition to the business of the General Conference, greetings were received from the president and vice president of the United States. AME church member and Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida delivered a keynote address to the assembly as well. Demings said that the role of the Church is to ensure that no one is left behind and that the most vulnerable…. are protected. Demings called the Church to collective action, saying, “the urgency is now.”

Among the legislation approved by the AME Church General Conference was an “AME Sexual Ethics Discernment Committee” designed to begin a three-year process to bring back recommendations to the 2024 General Conference. The committee is designed to “develop and propose legislation that undergirds the evangelical responsibility of the church ‘to minister to the social, spiritual, and physical development of all people’ – including people of various sexual orientations and gender identities.”

At the General Conference new bishops, general officers (department executives), and members of the Judicial Council were elected. The five incumbent general officers were retained. New persons elected to leadership in the AME Church include:

Bishops

-The Right Reverend Silvester Beaman, 139th Elected & Consecrated Bishop (Pastor of Bethel AME Church, Wilmington, Del.)

-The Right Reverend Marvin C. Zanders, II, 140th Elected & Consecrated Bishop (Pastor of St. Paul AME Church, Jacksonville, Fla.)

-The Right Reverend Francine A. Brookins, 141st Elected & Consecrated Bishop (Pastor of Bethel AME Church, Fontana, Ca.)

-The Right Reverend Frederick A. Wright, Sr., 142nd Elected & Consecrated Bishop (Pastor of Quinn Chapel AME Church, Cincinnati, Ohio)

General Officers

-Mr. Marcus Henderson, treasurer/chief financial officer of the AME Church

-Rev. Dr. James Miller, executive director, Department of Retirement Services

-Rev. Dr. John Green, executive director, Global Witness, and Ministry

-Rev. Dr. Marcellus A. Norris, executive director, Department of Church Growth and Development

Judicial Council Members

-Rev. Dr. Jonathan C. Augustine, Judicial Council – Clergy

-Rev. Dr. O. Jerome Green, Judicial Council— Clergy

-Advocate Thabile Ngubeni, Judicial Council – Lay

-Mrs. Monice Crawford—Lay Alternate

These elections marked several significant milestones. As a South African, Advocate Ngubeni became the first African layperson elected to the General Conference to serve in the AME Church in any capacity. Bishop Beaman delivered the benediction for the inauguration of President Joseph Biden. Bishop Zanders is the first Morehouse College graduate elected as a Bishop in the AME Church. Bishop Francine A. Brookins is the fifth woman elected as a Bishop and is the daughter of the late Bishop Hamel Hartford Brookins. Bishop Wright is the first Bishop elected from Ohio since 1948 and the son of the first AME female Presiding Elder, Reverend Cornelia Wright.

The AME Church General Conference will next meet in July 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“The 51st Session of the General Conference had ended with its joys and sorrows, challenges, and accomplishments and through it all, we saw the hand of God. To God, be the Glory!” said Bishop Anne Henning Byfield, president of the Council of Bishops.

Activism

East Oakland Community Clean-up

The office of Councilmember Treva Reid invites you to…

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Oakland Clean Up Flyer

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Sept. 11, 2001, 20 years later: ‘Remembrance’ held aboard the USS Hornet Sea, Space & Air Museum

The USS Hornet Sea, Space & Air Museum, moored at the City of Alameda, hosted a “Remembrance” ceremony of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, on board the ship on the 20th anniversary, Sept. 11, 2021.

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U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard, 23rd Marine Regiment: Sgt. Tristan Garivay, Sgt. Michael Her, Cpl. Adrian Chavez and Cpl. Quentavious Leeks. Photo by Russell Moore, USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum, Community Events & Outreach

Quintin Jones, Colonel, USMC, Commanding Officer, 23rd Marine Regiment. Photo by Russell Moore, USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum, Community Events & Outreach

The USS Hornet Sea, Space & Air Museum, moored at the City of Alameda, hosted a “Remembrance” ceremony of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, on board the ship on the 20th anniversary, Sept. 11, 2021.

The ceremony recognized the impact and consequences of the series of airline hijackings and suicide attacks committed on 2001 by 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Queda against targets in New York City and Wash., D.C. Nearly 3,000 people died that day and 6,000 were injured.  This was the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil in U.S. history. 

The ceremony aboard the USS Hornet began with the presentation of the colors by the U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard, 23rd Marine Regiment. (Pictured above.)

Leon Watkins, co-founder of The Walking Ghosts of Black History, was the Master of Ceremonies. He spoke about the extensive death and destruction which triggered the enormous U.S. effort to combat terrorism.

Daniel Costin, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, spoke of the lasting impact of 9/11 terrorists attack on first responders. He recounted incidents where first responders rushed into the scenes of the attacks, many at the sacrifice of their own lives. More than 400 police officers and firefighters were killed that day: 343 members of the New York City Fire Department and 71 members of their law enforcement agencies.

Quintin Jones, Colonel, USMC, commanding officer of the 23rd Marine Regiment, spoke about the recovery efforts at the Pentagon following the terrorists’ attack where 125 people perished. He reflected on the actions of three first responders who recovered the U.S. Marine Corps flag from the commandant of the Marine Corps’ office at the Pentagon. This flag was still standing after the attack. It was a symbol of America’s resolve.

At the end of the formal presentations, the Marine Corps Wreath Bearers went to the fantail of the Hornet. After the playing of ‘Taps,’ they tossed a wreath into the San Francisco Bay to give final honors.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Community

Many in Black Communities are Choosing Vaccination 

Inequities in health outcomes have always been with us. COVID-19 morbidity and mortality rates among African Americans rival or exceed those in heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses. Blacks sit atop most bad lists and at the bottom of most good lists. 

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Vaccination/Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock

The trail of illness and death left amid the spread of COVID-19 in Black and African American communities should come as no surprise.

Inequities in health outcomes have always been with us. COVID-19 morbidity and mortality rates among African Americans rival or exceed those in heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses. Blacks sit atop most bad lists and at the bottom of most good lists.

COVID-19 vaccinations offer us an opportunity to better balance the scale.

Unfortunately, even with widely available testing, highly effective vaccines, and extraordinary efforts by health departments to educate and encourage people of color to get vaccinated, many Black Californians remain skeptical.

We can only hope that the FDA’s full regulatory approval of the Pfizer vaccine on August 23 for those 16 and up convinces more to get the vaccine.  It’s worth noting that emergency-use authorization also remains in place for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots, as well as Pfizer’s for 12- to 15-year-olds – and that all of these vaccines are safe and effective in protecting against COVID-19 and its highly contagious variants.

Eddie Fairchild and Steph Sanders were skeptical about the COVID-19 vaccine but came to understand why vaccination benefits our entire community.

Fairchild, a Sacramento insurance agent, said he knew of research that found Black and white people are often treated differently for the same health conditions leading to poorer health outcomes.

“I was hesitant,” he said. “I was going to wait and see how it panned out with everyone else.

But when a Black friend in the health care field told him he’d opted to get vaccinated, Fairchild asked him why.

“He said, ‘Risk-reward, and the risk is death.’ At that point I didn’t have to ask him what the reward was.”

With a finance degree and a belief that numbers don’t lie, Fairchild looked at the data. He learned that until 2020 the average number of Americans who died each year was about 2.6 million, but in 2020 that figure was 3.4 million. There was only one possible explanation for the death rate surge, he said.

“COVID is absolutely real,” he said, adding that three of his cousins died from the virus. “Taking all that into consideration, I decided that it’s risky to engage in the world and not be vaccinated. It made sense for me to get it.”

Racial gaps in vaccination have thankfully narrowed in recent weeks. But as of September 1, while Black people account for 6% of the state’s population, they account for 6.6% of COVID-19 deaths, which is 11% higher than the statewide rate, according to state department of public health data. Only about 55% of Black people in California have had at least one dose of the vaccine.

Reasons for the discrepancies run the gamut, from conspiracy theories like Black people are getting a less effective vaccine than whites or that the vaccine will eventually be deadly, to challenges in health care access. 

Mostly, it’s based on a lack of trust in medical and scientific institutions, which have a long history of racism and mistreating Black people.

So even when it comes to good things like vaccines, which are scientifically proven to be good for the community, it always comes back to trust.

Sanders, a Vallejo school principal, was hesitant because of the Tuskegee syphilis studies in which Black men who had the disease were intentionally not treated with penicillin. And he was dubious that an effective vaccine could be developed so quickly. 

In fact, the science and technology enabling development of the COVID-19 vaccines was in development for a more than decade before the virus emerged in 2020. The FDA authorized three vaccines for emergency use after they underwent a rigorous process and were proven through trials to be safe and effective at preventing severe COVID-19, hospitalization, and death.

He decided to get vaccinated when his school board decided last spring to bring students back into classrooms.

Today, he’s a fervent vaccine advocate. He holds “lunch and learn” forums for educators, encouraging vaccination.

“I’m a leader and people are relying on my knowledge,” he said. “I tell them, ‘Don’t make this about you, but about the people you love and care about. It’s about protecting them.’”

There is still a long way to go before Blacks achieve true health equity, but vaccination against a virus that is taking a terrible toll on our communities is a critical step in the right direction.

 

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