African Methodist Episcopal Church's First Woman Bishop to Speak at Truett Seminary at Baylor

Aug. 22, 2012
Vashti  McKenzieAME Bishop Vashti McKenzie (Courtesy photo)

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WACO, Texas (Aug. 22, 2012) -- The Right Rev. Vashti McKenzie -- a former journalist and broadcaster who broke the "stained-glass ceiling" when she was elected the first female bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church's 200-year history - will speak on Tuesday, Aug. 28, at George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University.

McKenzie's election in 2000 to serve the 18th Episcopal District of the AME Church, which includes the four sub-Saharan African countries Lesotho, Botswana, Mozambique and Swaziland, was hailed as a symbol of hope and change for the oldest and one of the largest historically black denominations.

She has been named twice to Ebony Magazine's "Honor Roll of Great African American Preachers" and also has been honored by Ebony on its list of "15 Greatest African American Female Preachers."

In 2005, McKenzie made further history when she became the first woman president of the denomination's Council of Bishops, making her the highest-ranking woman in the predominately black Methodist denomination.

Five weeks ago, she became the bishop of the 10th Episcopal District of the AME Church, a district which includes Texas. McKenzie said her initial focus will be "Imagine AME: God Is Able to Do More than We Think, Ask, or Imagine (Ephesians 3:20)."

"This is an opportunity to redefine our ministries and teach new traditions," she said. "We will be looking at our strategy statewide."

The Rev. Joel Gregory, Ph.D., a professor of preaching at Truett, said some members of the AME denomination are enrolled at Truett.

"They are excellent students," said Gregory, former president of the Baptist General Convention Texas and founder of Joel Gregory Ministries. "We want to affirm our ties with the AME, our common ground."

The bishop is the author of the books Not Without a Struggle, Strength in the Struggle, Leadership Development for Women, A Journey to the Well and Swapping Housewives: Rachel and Jacob and Leah.

In sub-Sahara African countries, she opened a not-for-profit computer center, provided scholarships and expanded services and group homes for children orphaned or abandoned by the HIV/Aids pandemic.

During McKenzie's journalistic career, her roles have included a radio program director, an on-air personality, a city desk reporter, a staff writer and a corporate vice president of programming.

She is the wife of Stan McKenzie, a missions supervisor in the AME church and a former player in the National Basketball Association.

McKenzie's address on Tuesday will be during chapel from 9:30 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. in Paul W. Powell Chapel at Truett Seminary, 1100 S. Third St. in Waco. The service is open to the public.

The address may be viewed after the event at


Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary provides theological education leading to the Master of Divinity, the Doctor of Ministry or the Master of Theological Studies degree that is centered in the gospel of Jesus Christ and consistent with historic Baptist commitments to prepare persons to carry this gospel to the churches and the world. Within the M.Div. degree program, students can choose concentrations in Biblical Studies and Theology, Christian Education, Ministry Leadership, Missions and World Christianity, Worship Leadership and Youth/Family/Student Ministry. Truett Seminary also offers two Dual Degree programs - M.Div./MSW and MTS/MSW - through a partnership with Baylor's School of Social Work and an M.Div./Master of Music through a partnership with the Baylor University School of Music. Visit to learn more.

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