Methodist Christian Episcopal Church elects second woman and African bishops

(RNS) – The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church has elected its second female bishop and received its first episcopal address from a woman at its quadrennial General Conference.

“I think when you elect the first one you have to be very careful that she doesn’t become symbolic and so I was really excited,” said Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, who was the first woman elected. in 2010 and serves as Secretary of the College of Bishops.

Rev. Denise Anders-Modest, pastor of Trinity CME Church in Memphis, Tennessee, and coordinator of the CME Commission on Women in Ministry, will serve the 2nd Episcopal District, which includes Kentucky, Ohio and central Indiana.

His predecessor was especially pleased that voting delegates chose Anders-Modeste as the second to win the election for bishop, not waiting for the last chance to add another woman to the CME episcopate. “It’s also quite commendable that people could see her qualifications and not just, ‘oh, we need a female bishop.'”

Jefferson-Snorton achieved another first this year, becoming the first woman to deliver the episcopal address — the message given on behalf of bishops to the denomination — on June 25, the first official day of the gathering at the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati. The meeting, attended by around 2,500 people, is scheduled to end on Friday July 1.

She was also elected as the denomination’s new ecumenical and development officer, a role that no longer requires her to also lead a district of churches. Part of her role will be to seek out resources to create and work on ministry and outreach programs at the denominational and local levels.

“I see a lot of our churches that are in communities that have such needs but the local church itself doesn’t really have the capacity to raise funds or even manage the program,” he said. she stated.

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Delegates, who attended in person, also elected the second African bishop in the history of the denomination, which was founded in 1870 and boasts 1.2 million American members. It has sister churches and missions in 14 African countries, Haiti and Jamaica.

Rev. Kwame L. Adjei, a member of the CME Church Judicial Council and a former associate pastor and high school chaplain in his native Ghana, will serve the 11th District, which is in East Africa.

Kwame Lawson Adjei, right, is the new bishop-elect for the 11th district, located in East Africa. Courtesy of CME Church Facebook

He will be the second African bishop. Bishop Godwin T. Umoette, the first African-born bishop, was elected in 2010 and died earlier this year.

“Because we see ourselves as the international church,” Jefferson-Snorton said, “the bishops in leadership also had to include a voice that was not just the American voice, but someone at the table of the College of bishops who brought another cultural perspective.”

Other new bishops are: Rev. Clarence K. Heath, pastor of Carter Metropolitan CME Church in Fort Worth, Texas, who will lead the 5th Episcopal District, based in Birmingham, Alabama; Rev. Charley Hames Jr., senior pastor of Beebe Memorial Cathedral in Oakland, Calif., who will lead the Los Angeles-based 9th Episcopal District; and Rev. Ricky D. Helton, senior pastor of the Metropolitan Church of Israel CME in Washington, DC, who will lead the 10th Episcopal District, based in West Africa.

Despite temperature checks and other measures to keep the gathering free of COVID-19, some attendees tested positive during General Conference.

Jefferson-Snorton, who is also chairwoman of the board of directors of the National Council of Churches, said she did not know how many people had tested positive, but she was quarantined for three days after learning that her husband had tested positive.

“Nobody had to go to the hospital,” she said. “It wasn’t like gaping holes in delegation.”

In recent weeks, other gatherings of religious denominations, including the Southern Baptist Convention and the Presbyterian Church (USA), have also had cases of COVID-19.

“We had a handful of attendees who reported that they tested positive for COVID-19 within days of traveling to Anaheim,” said Jonathan Howe, vice president of communications for the SBC executive committee. “None of those we spoke with were able to identify the source of their specific case, and no serious illnesses requiring hospitalization were reported.”

Preliminary meetings of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) reported on 13 cases of COVID-19, its clerk said in a June 23 statement posted on Twitter.

“We believe the small outbreak of positive cases this week did not come from the Presbyterian Center or during General Assembly meeting hours,” the Reverend J. Herbert Nelson II said of the rally in Louisville, Kentucky. “Rather, the source of this outbreak appears to have occurred outside of official General Assembly business involving receptions and other hospitality events.”

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