Bishop Mildred “Bonnie” Hines, the 98th Bishop in succession of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church died Monday, May 23, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. Elected and consecrated in Atlanta, Georgia at the denomination’s 48th General Conference in 2008, Hines is the first and only woman elected to the church’s highest office in it’s over 225-year history which dates back to 1796.
The Communications Office of the A.M. E. Zion Church released an official statement Tuesday, from The Board of Bishops- “We are glad because she is free from her infirmities and is in the presence of her Lord; whom she served so faithfully.” These sentiments were expressed by Board of Bishops President, Bishop Darryl B. Starnes, Sr., Presiding Prelate of the Piedmont Episcopal District.
A native of Mount Airy, North Carolina Bishop Hines served in every capacity with diligence and excellence. Bishop Hines was formally educated in the public county schools in Surry County, North Carolina. She always credited Miss Virginia Galloway, her first-grade teacher, for instilling in her a thirst for learning and a passion for speaking. Her favorite subjects were English, chemistry, history, and home economics at North Surry High School. After receiving an academic and athletic scholarship, Bishop Hines attended Mars Hill College in Mars Hill, North Carolina, where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Home Economics Education. She received her Master of Arts in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She was awarded a Master of Divinity from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia, and certification in Clinical Pastoral Counseling from the Colgate Rochester School of Divinity in Rochester, New York. She was awarded a Doctor of Ministry from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Rev. Dr. Anthony Witherspoon, President of the International Ministers and Lay Association remembered Bishop Hines- “Zion has lost a giant who is leaving an indelible legacy that changed the trajectory of our church denomination. Not only was Bishop Hines a staunch supporter of The International Ministers and Lay Association, but she also championed all we stand for even in the face of opposition. Bishop had no problem standing alone for the good of others if need be. Our association has been made all the better because of her courage, strength and tenacity. Servant, well done.”
Once a buyer for Belk Department Stores, she said an illness forced her to leave the fashion world behind. “I bargained with God,” she said, saying she would follow divine guidance if she survived. Bishop Hines pastored First A.M.E. Zion Church in Los Angeles, California, prior to her election to the episcopacy. Previous Pastoral assignments include: Walls Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church, Charlotte, NC, Saint Peter's Tabernacle A.M.E. Zion Church, Gastonia, NC, and Waddell Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church, Shelby, NC. Rev. Dr. Darius Benton, Presiding Elder of the Dallas-Fort Worth District and spiritual son to Bishop Hines commented, “She truly exemplified what it was to have a pastor’s heart; she made a point to call me every Sunday the entire time I was pursuing my undergraduate studies.
Hines served as Bishop of the Western West Africa Episcopal District and later was assigned to serve the Southwestern Delta Episcopal District which includes churches in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas and Tennessee. After the sudden death of Bishop Roy Holmes in May of 2013, the New England and the Bahamas Islands Conferences of the North Eastern Episcopal District were added to her supervision. Most recently, she served the South Atlantic Episcopal District which includes churches in South Carolina and Georgia. “She was a first-class lady who was very meticulous in her leadership and always strived for excellence. It was my honor to serve by her side these past few years as what she called her ‘Assisting Bishop’.”, said Retired Bishop Warren Matthew Brown, Resident Bishop in the Georgia Conference. Hines was also the chairperson of the board of trustees of Clinton College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and a member of the Board of Trustees of Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina. Bishop Hines is fondly remembered by colleagues and constituents alike for her style, intellect, wisdom, and grace.