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Archives: Detail

Spotlight Article
Date: 2012-03-05
Article Title: Women’s History Month Recognizes First Female Bishop- Vashti McKenzie
Article: Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie serves as the 117th elected and consecrated bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Her historic election in the year 2000 represents the first time in its 200 plus year history of the A.M.E. Church that a woman had obtained the level of Episcopal office.
  In 2004, she again made history becoming the first woman to become the Titular Head of the denomination, as the president of the Council of Bishops. She served her one year term that made her the highest-ranking woman in the predominately Black Methodist denominations.
  From 2000-2004, McKenzie was the chief pastor of the 18th Episcopal District in southeast Africa which is comprised of Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana and Mozambique. Bishop McKenzie instituted an ambitious agenda: “Strength to Climb.” This included strengthening the District’s infra-structure, by instituting computer labs in two AME high schools, creating seven entrepreneurial business projects, 37 new church starts, facilitating two USA-African teacher workshops and summits; producing four new classrooms and supplying school supplies for AME schools and scholarships for clergy and High School students. She completed nine buildings, purchased four parcels of land, built eight new mission houses, and built twelve new church buildings. She opened a not-for-profit computer center in Lesotho, three District office/centers, initiated the AME Schools Annual Conferences in Lesotho and Swaziland, and provided scholarships for 31 students. She also expanded services to 75 children orphaned or affected by the HIV/Aids pandemic in a day program in Botswana.
  In Mbabane, Swaziland, the Selulah Sandlah AME Village was built that included three large group homes for 36 orphaned children plus house parents. It was built without government grants or support. The three group homes were also dedicated in December 2002 and the first children arrived in October 2003.
  Bishop McKenzie was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Advisory Council of the White House Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Payne Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio and the International Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
  A graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, McKenzie holds a Master of Divinity from Howard University School of Divinity and has earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. A poll of national civic, social, religious and academic leaders selected Bishop McKenzie for Ebony Magazine’s “Honor Roll of Great African American Preachers” in 1993 and again in 1997. She was honored to be named at the top of Ebony’s “15 Greatest African American Female Preachers.”
  She has been active in other areas, including being the founding president and organizer of the Collective Banking Group of Baltimore, as well as the organizer of the Church Health Coalition, and a former president of the A.M.E. Ministerial Alliance.
  Bishop McKenzie is the author of three books. The first two, Not without a Struggle and Strength in the Struggle concerns leadership and professional growth for women. Her latest book, Journey to the Well helps women seek new directions for personal growth following the footsteps of the Biblical Samaritan woman. Both, the hard and paperback editions of this book have made several best sellers list including Essence Magazine’s “Best Seller List” for non-fiction publications.
  Characterized as being an electrifying preacher, the former journalist and electronic broadcaster have held a variety of media positions. From a radio program director, an on-air personality, a city desk reporter, a staff writer, to even becoming the corporate vice president of programming.