Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie
Bishop McKenzie was elected and consecrated as the 117th bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2000. She was the first female elected to episcopal office in the more than two-century-old AME Church and is the first female to serve as President of the Council of Bishops and President of the General Board. She has served as presiding bishop in Southern Africa – Botswana, Swaziland, Mozambique and Lesotho and in the United States in Tennessee, Kentucky and Texas.
She is no stranger to ecumenical ministry. She has been a delegate, preacher and/or presenter to ecumenical bodies including the World Methodist Council and the World Council of Churches.
Bishop McKenzie is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, Howard University, School of Religion and has an earned doctorate from United Theological Seminary.
Bishop McKenzie has been active in social justice issues for more than three decades. She was appointed in 2009 by President Barack Obama to be on the inaugural White House Commission of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnership. This group worked on behalf of Americans committed to improving their communities, no matter their religious or political beliefs. She was named by Huffington Post in 2014 as one of the 50 Most Powerful Women Around the World.
She is the author of six books including Not Without a Struggle and Journey to the Well. Her newest book is The Big Deal of Taking Small Steps to Move Closer to God. The book shows how to develop a stronger relationship with God with a more effective Christian lifestyle by taking small steps that lead to big changes.
Bishop McKenzie has been appointed to a two-year term as Interim President and General Secretary. In this role, she will provide executive leadership to a diverse covenant community of 37-member communions with 30 million Christians and 100,000 congregations from Protestant, Anglican, historic African American, Orthodox, Evangelical and Living Peace traditions which have a common commitment to advocate and represent God’s love and unity in the public square. Since 1950, the National Council of Churches has worked in a common expression of God’s love and promise of unity. She is the third woman and the first African American woman to serve as General Secretary and the first woman to serve in the combined role of President and General Secretary.