General Board meeting and Investiture ceremony set for June 19-21
The Right Rev. Clement W. Fugh, presiding prelate of the Fifth Episcopal District of the AME Church, ascends to the presidency of the international denomination next week.
His investiture ceremony will take place June 20 during the Council of Bishops and General Board meeting that begins Monday, June 19, and continues through Wednesday, June 21, at the Hilton LAX Hotel, 5711 W. Century Blvd., in Los Angeles.
Hundreds of AMEs are expected to participate in the business sessions and worship services. Also, the gathering will feature the presentation of substantial donations to several Los Angeles-area nonprofits that focus on homelessness and children’s needs.
“We want to do something for the homeless in our community and relieve the weight of human trafficking, especially among children, and do things that will give our kids a better advantage in the 21st-century where they have to live and move and have their being,” explained Fugh.
The Council consists of 21 active bishops who oversee the church’s episcopal districts located around the world. As president of the Council, Fugh will serve a one-year term as the official head of the AME Church in conjunction with his current position as chief pastor and administrator of the 15 states, including Hawaii, west of the Mississippi River.
Simultaneously carrying out both assignments may appear a bit overwhelming, but Fugh is well prepared to succeed. Before coming to the Fifth, he served as bishop of the 14th Episcopal District, which comprises the African countries of Liberia, Central Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoire and Togo-Benin. In that role, he gained considerable experience in multi-tasking at a high level.
“When I think about having to fly from country-to-country, sometimes an 18-hour flight from my office in Monrovia, Liberia, going from one state in the Fifth District to another in less than four hours is a time to shout,” said Fugh with a laugh.
Taking advantage of the shorter distances, Fugh has traveled across the district since his appointment in July 2016. His purpose? Evaluate, advise and encourage churches as they implement his vision for the next four years.
A year ago, he charged AME parishes to transform their congregation and community by becoming a holy nation. Unveiling a four-pronged strategy, Fugh urged focus on following the commandments and scriptures, understanding the role of the pastor, officers and members, holding revivals to rejuvenate the people, and assisting others through personal service.
Describing how members have responded to his vision, Fugh said, “It has been just a blessing that many of them have embraced the quadrennial theme. People are trying to live out forgiving each other as well as sharing each other’s joys and sorrows. I believe they have taken to heart that the vision is not just for one time, but for the full four years of the quadrennial. It is my prayer that people will change how they conduct themselves as a child of God.”
While thankful for the reception to his vision, Fugh still faces hurdles that many leaders – religious and secular – encounter. Those tasks range from matching ministers with congregations to resurrecting dying churches.
“Finding qualified clergy persons to lead the congregations, visionary persons committed to the work, is still a major challenge. In the L.A. area, basically, the cost of living is expensive and when a person has spent money for a theological education and graduate to serve a congregation that is in no ways prepared to compete salary wise, people have to be bi-vocational, which makes it hard to be committed to church growth and soul saving,” shared Fugh.
“On the member side, the weight of commuting long distances makes it hard. Also, gentrification has changed things because people have to go far to find affordable housing. This has been quite a challenge.”
Yet, Fugh is far from being discouraged, declaring, “I praise the Lord for people who are committed to the work of the church. When my term as bishop is done, I hope I have generated a spirit among the people that causes excitement and expectation that the best is still yet to come.”
The Council of Bishops and General Board meeting is open to the public. For a schedule of events, visit ame5.org.