We are the African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.). God called the A.M.E. Church into being in 1787 when a group of Black slaves ministered through the mess created by racism, oppression, rape, lynching and slavery. These Black men and women fought to move from mess to ministry by creating the first Black denomination in AMErica.
The A.M.E. Church founded Wilberforce University, the first and oldest privately owned Black University in AMErica; created the Christian Recorder, the first and oldest Black Newspaper in AMErica; and is the first Black Denomination to own land in AMErica.
The A.M.E. Church has been a beacon of light for souls lost in sin, freedom for victims of oppression, a leader in civil rights, and a voice for Black folk muted by mess. The mission of the A.M.E. Church is to minister to the social, spiritual, and physical development of all people.
In recent weeks, the A.M.E. Church has been in the media for more mess than ministry. It is the responsibility of the Bishop T. Larry Kirkland, episcopal leader of the Fifth District of the A.M.E. Church, to guide churches from mess to meaningful ministry.
While Bishop Kirkland is responsible for over three hundred churches west of the Mississippi River, Bishop Kirkland has limited power for appointing pastors to churches as outlined in the Book of Discipline of the A.M.E. Church.
First, an A.M.E. Bishop uses Godly judgment to appoint a pastor to a church for a period of one year. Thereafter, a Bishop has the responsibility to permit a pastor to remain at a church or reassign that pastor to another church.
A.M.E. pastors have the right to an appointment equal to their ability, training, and experience, when available, provided the pastor has not been found guilty of misconduct under Judicial Administration.
If reassigned, the new appointment, when available, must be comparable to or better than the previous appointment, again, provided the pastor has not been found guilty of misconduct under Judicial Administration.
A Bishop must notify a pastor in writing at least 90 days in advance of the intent to move a pastor to another church without the pastor’s consent. No pastor has a perpetual appointment to an A.M.E. pulpit, and every pastor takes an oath to accept the assignment given by the Bishop.
In the L.A. area, Bishop Kirkland selected new pastors at First, Ward, Brookins, St. James, St. Mark, and Grant-Long Beach A.M.E. Churches. These congregations are well pleased with their new spiritual leaders and some gave standing ovations to their new pastors.
The business of moving ministers is always messy, but ministers are called to move from mess to meaningful ministry. New pastors are charged to fulfill the vision of the A.M.E. denomination. At every level of the A.M.E. Connection and in every local church, the A.M.E. Church shall engage in carrying out the spirit of the original Free African Society, out of which the A.M.E. Church evolved: to seek out and save the lost, and to serve the needy.
The ultimate purpose for ministry, regardless of denomination, is to make God’s Biblical principles known; spread Christ’s liberating gospel to the hopeless, and provide continuing programs which enhance the entire social development of God’s people. The A.M.E. Church works daily at the ministry, mission, and management of God’s precious resources.
God does not save us from mess. We are in messy economic times, messy foreclosures, messy unemployment, and engage in messy political campaigns. God saves us in the mess.