The Rev. Dr. Frank Madison Reid III stopped in Los Angeles on June 12 to campaign for bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
AMEs from all over the world will meet in Philadelphia, PA in July for the 50th Session of the General Conference. Six people will be elected to serve at the episcopal level and Reid hopes to be one of them.
A familiar and popular figure to many in the area, Reid was the pastor of Ward AME Church in Los Angeles from 1980 to 1988. For the past 28 years, he has served as the spiritual leader of Bethel AME in Baltimore, MD.
His visit was hosted by the Rev. Kelvin Sauls, pastor of Holman United Methodist Church, and his wife, the Rev. Judi Wortham-Sauls, who an itinerant elder in the AME Church. After preaching at Holman’s 11 a.m. service, the Sauls’ held a reception for Reid in their home.
“We are excited about Rev. Reid’s candidacy and we’re supporting him. He’s a leader with integrity and a vision that continues to affirm what the AME Church is all about in terms of its founding, calling and ethos of facilitating ministries that are relevant, real and transformative,” said Sauls.
He added that he and Reid are connected as Black Methodists. “It provides us with common roots on what it means to be the Black church, to live out the social Gospel that God is calling us to, connect beyond denominations and faith traditions to see how we can serve our communities.”
Explaining why he is seeking episcopal service, Reid said it was time for visionary leadership and time for change in the AME Church.
“In 2016, African American people in this country and Black people all over the globe need to move into a new direction and the Black church has always been the pioneer in taking people to new directions nationally and globally.
“This is not our mother’s and father’s church, but the Word of God has not changed. We need to train a generation of leaders who are rooted and grounded in their culture, but who also have understanding and commitment to the Word of God that could change the world. We’ve got to have a new radical, take-it-to-the-streets teaching. Be radical, but be real to the Word of God and that’s what I’ve tried to represent,” he said.
A minister for 45 years, Reid first served as pastor of Greater Bethel AME in Charlotte NC. Assigned to Ward AME in 1980, he established several outreach ministries including the Ward Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), one of the first faith-based EDCs in the city. Currently, WEDC operates three housing complexes for low-income families and seniors in L.A.
Since being at Bethel – Baltimore, Reid has led the congregation in participating in the Million Man March on 1995, purchasing 254 acres of land in 1999, opening the MLK Afterschool Academy in 2002, starting a second worship location in 2011, and donating $10,000 to Haiti earthquake victims in 2010 and an equal amount to Coppin State University in 2014. Reid has amassed an impressive list of supporters. His campaign literature features statements from former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, University of Maryland Chancellor William E. Kirwan, Bishop Victor Curry of New Birth Baptist Church in Miami, FL, and Pastor Jamal Harrison Bryant of Empowerment Temple AME Church in Baltimore.
Expressing support for Reid’s candidacy, Ward AME member Jacqueline Dupont-Walker noted, “I think the AME Church is at a point where the opportunity for recommitting to the legacy of 1816 is welcomed and sought by many.
“Therefore the leadership elected at this 50th Session of the General Conference needs to be people who are visionary, whose ministry has shown a tendency towards cutting-edge, people who can reach the voiceless, left-out, the disenfranchised.”