The Rev. Francine A. Brookins, Esq., was elected as the 141st bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church during the denomination’s 51st Quadrennial Session of the General Conference held July 6 -10 in Orlando, Florida.
Brookins, the pastor of Bethel AME Church in Fontana, is the fifth woman to be elected to the AME episcopal level. She follows in the footsteps of her late father, the Right Rev. H. Hartford Brookins, who served decades as a AME bishop and became internationally known as a civil and human rights advocate.
Bishop Francine Brookins has been assigned as the presiding prelate of the 18th Episcopal District, which covers Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana and a portion of Mozambique in the continent Africa.
“As your bishop … I will continue to be a builder of healthy people, programs and media content, opening doors and making room to meet the mental, physical, financial, education and spiritual needs of all people,” said Brookins in a promotional video.
In a note to her supporters on her website, Brookins wrote, “For six and a half years you have remained steadfast and solid in pushing me when I wanted to stop and leave this to the rest of those seeking to serve. God is great and greatly to be praised, we have been running a long time, but we are not tired. Today may you be encouraged in your fatigue. You do make a difference. You matter to me and to many.”
A native of Los Angeles, Bishop Brookins was ordained an AME itinerant elder as well received her Masters of Divinity degree from Pacific School of Religion in 2002. Previously, she earned her B.A. from Georgetown University and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from George Washington National Law Center.
In 2009, then-Bishop T. Larry Kirkland, Sr. appointed Brookins to Bethel-Fontana. The church was without an edifice, but in two years, Brookins led the congregation in constructing the building. Not only did she serve as project manager, but also extended compassion, care, teaching and preaching to her membership throughout the process.
Prior to her leading Bethel, Brookins served four years as pastor of Wright Chapel AME Church and as a general civil attorney and mediator in Oakland, CA.
The Rev. Silvester Beamon was another notable candidate elevated to the episcopacy. Beamon, the pastor of Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware, gained national exposure for delivering a powerful benediction at the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden in January 2021.
Also elected as bishop were the Rev. Marvin C. Zanders of St. Paul AME in Jacksonville, Florida; and the Rev. Dr. Frederick A. Wright, Sr., of Quinn Chapel AME in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Religion News Service and The Christian Recorder contributed to this article.