COLLEGE PARK, GA – The Board of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church assembled for their Semi-Annual Mid-Winter Meeting February 22-24, 2017. The Shaw Temple Church in Smyrna, Georgia was the host, but headquartered the conclave at the Atlanta Airport Marriott. Host Bishop Mildred Hines, Presiding Prelate of the South Atlantic Episcopal District, Dr. Gwendolyn Brumfield, Host Missionary Supervisor, Host Presiding Elder, The Rev. Dr. Jeffery Tribble, and Host Pastor, The Rev. Eldren Morrison all provided stellar leadership to ensure attendees experienced the utmost hospitality and comfort. The meeting opened with celebration of Holy Communion, Bishop Hines serving as Worship Leader and music rendered by The Shaw Temple and Solid Rock A.M.E. Zion Churches. The preacher for the hour was Bishop Kenneth Monroe, Presiding Prelate of the Eastern North Carolina Episcopal District and outgoing President of the Board of Bishops. Bishop Monroe’s sermon was entitled “Explorers of the Kingdom” coming from II Peter 1:2-3;5.
Bishop Monroe encouraged worshipers to embark on a “tremendous faith expedition”. “It is only through exploring God’s Kingdom, allowing Him to lead us into the unknown that our faith can grow into a faith that ultimately pleases God”, proclaimed Bishop Monroe. Bishop Seth O. Lartey, Presiding Prelate of the Alabama-Florida Episcopal District served as Chief Celebrant with Retired Bishops George W.C. Walker, Sr., S. Chuka Ekemam, and Nathaniel Jarrett, serving as Con-Celebrants. After all were communed the Board of Bishops in ceremonial tradition elected Bishops Darryl B. Starnes, Sr., Presiding Prelate of the Mid-West Episcopal District as President for the next six months.
At the welcome program, attendees received greetings from representatives of the various ecumenical, civic, and commerce communities. Bishop Staccato Powell, Presiding Prelate of the Western Episcopal District preached the opening evening sermon.
The following day The Board of Bishops began to receive reports and greetings in closed session coming from all General Officers, Institutional Directors, and College Presidents. The Rev. James Davis III, Pastor of the Grace Church AME Zion Church in Raleigh, North Carolina was the preacher for the Thursday evening worship experience. The sermonic text was II Kings 4:15-20 and Davis wowed congregants with a soul stirring message “Recovering from a Dead Blessing.”
The International Ministers and Lay Association (IMLA) have their annual meeting in concourse with the Mid-Winter Board of Bishops Meeting. While the Bishops hear reports in closed session the IMLA holds plenary sessions inclusive of worship, official business, and training. The Rev. David T. Miller from the Western Episcopal District, and The Rev. Titus Thorn from the South Atlantic were the preachers for the plenary worships sessions.
Attendees were very pleased to hear a presentation from the newly elected General Secretary-Auditor, Rev. Dr. Elvin Sadler. Dr. Sadler first impressed everyone by announcing the new 2016 Book of Dicispline was printed and ready for purchase, then in a display of his innovation and foresight Dr. Sadler presented his newly developed method of reporting electronically, listeners responded with unanimous approval. It is at this meeting the IMLA holds its annual recognition and awards banquet. Many of the church’s top tier leadership were recognized this year including but not limited to Dr. Gwendolyn Brumfield, Rev. George McKain, Presiding Elder Glenn Grayson, and the Star of Zion is especially proud of the Editor in Chief, Mrs. Addie H. Lisby, also the Chief Communications Officer of our beloved Zion, for being honored with the Frederick Douglass Award.
This year during the IMLA meeting, the members of the organization elected an entirely new executive board. The new board members are as follows: Rev. Dr. Anthony Witherspoon, President; Mrs. Lula K. Howard, First Vice President; Rev. Dr. Myrtle Bowen, Second Vice President; Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Gregory Robeson Smith; Ms. Marie Denise Niles, Secretary; Mrs. Carlous E. Tyrance, Assistant Secretary; Rev. David T. Miller, Treasurer; Rev. Dr. Maurice Harden, Financial Secretary; and Rev. J. Martin Bouler, Sr., Chaplain.
Not only did the IMLA elect new officers, but the Presiding Elders Council also elected new board members and they are as follows; Rev. Dr. Anthony K. R. Gibson, International President; Rev. Dr. John A. Butler, First Vice President; Rev. Dr. Rita Colbert, Second Vice President; Rev. Dr. Willa Estell, Executive Secretary; Rev. Dr. John Paul Ruth, Treasurer; Rev. Dr. Sondra Coleman, Recording Secretary; rev. Dr. Evalina Huggins, Chaplain; and Rev. Darrell Williams, Parliamentarium.
The next connectional gathering will be July 2017 in Knoxville, Tennessee. We hope to see you there.