Cathedral Guest

Presiding Prelate of the 13th Episcopal District, African Methodist Episocpal Church

Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie

Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie

Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie

Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, presiding prelate of the Thirteenth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. serves as the 117th elected and consecrated bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Her historic election in the year 2000 represents the first time in the over 200-year history of the A.M.E. Church, in which a woman had obtained that level of Episcopal office. In 2004, she again made history becoming the first woman to become the Titular Head of the denomination, as the president of the Council of Bishops. She served her one year term that made her the highest-ranking woman in the predominately Black Methodist denominations.

Bishop McKenzie is honored to serve as the presiding prelate of the 13th Episcopal District which includes the State of Tennessee and Commonwealth of Kentucky. Her husband, Stan McKenzie serves as the Supervisor of Missions.

She is launching an innovative agenda designed to rebuild lives, churches and communities through several new ministries. The Nehemiah Nation, a men’s service ministry; Living Well Everyday, a health and wholeness emphasis; A.M.E. Works Day, community service projects, School of the Prophets, enrichment and educational training; as well as developing good spiritual habits and the non-profit arm, Believe, Inc. bring a fresh wind to fan the embers of faith to build positively on the past, lay a foundation for the future and work diligently in the present.

She had previously served in 2000–2004 as the chief pastor of the 18th Episcopal District in Southeast Africa, which is comprised of Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana and Mozambique. Bishop McKenzie instituted an ambitious agenda: “Strength to Climb.” This included strengthening the District’s infra-structure, by instituting computer labs in two AME high schools, creating seven entrepreneurial business projects, 37 new church starts, facilitating two USA-African teacher workshops and summits; producing four new classrooms and supplying school supplies for AME schools and scholarships for clergy and High School students. She completed nine buildings, purchased four parcels of land, built eight new mission houses, and built twelve new church buildings. She opened a not-for-profit computer center in Lesotho, three District office/centers, initiated the AME Schools Annual Conferences in Lesotho and Swaziland, and provided scholarships for 31 students. She also expanded services to 75 children orphaned or affected by the HIV/Aids pandemic in a day program in Botswana.

In Mbabane, Swaziland, the Selulah Sandlah AME Village was built that include three large group homes for 36 orphaned children plus house parents. It was built without government grants or support, but by many people who believed something needed to be done to help children left homeless and abandoned by this disease. The three group homes were dedicated in December 2002 and the first children arrived in October 2003.

This kind of creative ministry is not foreign to Bishop McKenzie. She has served as a pastor of three congregations from the rural to the urban center, from seven members to over 1,700 members. Most recently, prior to becoming a bishop, she served for ten years as the pastor of historic Payne Memorial AME Church in Baltimore, Maryland growing that congregation from 330 to over 1,700 members, increasing property value from 1.6 to 5.6 million dollars, launching 25 innovative ministries and instituting and organizing Payne Memorial Outreach, Inc, a million dollar faith based non-profit organization.

She also led the Payne Memorial congregation to petition and secured a $1.5 million welfare-to-work contract with the State of Maryland, the only congregation to bid and win. More than 600 men and women were educated, trained and placed in jobs leaving the welfare system behind them. Under Bishop McKenzie’s leadership, the church purchased a two-story office building to house twelve community service programs and renovated a vacant five-story apartment building on a drug infested corner, making it into a $1.8 million human and economic development center, with a senior adult day care, a Headstart and other businesses.

She has been active in other areas, including being the founding president and organizer of the Collective Banking Group of Baltimore, as well as the organizer of the Church Health Coalition, and a former president of the A.M.E. Ministerial Alliance.

Bishop McKenzie is the author of three books. The first two, Not without a Struggle and Strength in the Struggle concern leadership and professional growth for women. Her latest book, Journey to the Well helps women seek new directions for personal growth following the footsteps of the Biblical Samaritan woman. Both, the hard and paperback editions of this book have made several best sellers list including Essence Magazine’s “Best Seller List” for non-fiction publications.

She is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park; holds a Master of Divinity from Howard University School of Divinity and has earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. A poll of national civic, social, religious and academic leaders selected Bishop McKenzie for Ebony Magazine’s “Honor Roll of Great African American Preachers” in 1993 and again in 1997. She was honored to be named at the top of Ebony’s “15 Greatest African American Female Preachers.”

Characterized as being an electrifying preacher, the former journalist and electronic broadcaster has held a variety of media positions. From a radio program director, an on-air personality, a city desk reporter, a staff writer, to even becoming the corporate vice president of programming.

Bishop McKenzie has been honored for her community service, outstanding achievement and being a religious role model by a number of diverse civic, educational, business and governmental leaders. She is also the National Chaplain for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. an international public service organization and life member of the NAACP. She has received honorary doctorates from Howard University, Wilberforce University, Morgan State University and Goucher College.

She is the wife of Stan McKenzie, the supervisor of missions for the 13th Episcopal District. Currently, he is a human resource consultant and a former player in the National Basketball Association. Together, they have three children.

Bishop McKenzie is humbled and grateful to God for the many opportunities and blessings afforded her as she strives to serve with excellence in the Kingdom of God.

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