Bishop Vashti McKenzie to lead the National Council of Churches for the next two years
(RNS) – Bishop Vashti McKenzie, a recently retired bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, has been appointed president and acting general secretary of the National Council of Churches, the ecumenical body announced on Tuesday (May 10).
McKenzie succeeds Jim Winkler, who left the role Jan. 31 after serving in the role since 2013. She officially started April 1 and is expected to serve a two-year term.
The NCC announced the transition by welcoming the bishop to its first business meeting of the organization, which includes 37 member denominations from the Protestant, Anglican, historic African-American, Evangelical, Orthodox and peace traditions.
“The National Council of Churches is blessed to have Bishop McKenzie in this key leadership role,” said Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, board chair, who is also the congregational leader of the Methodist Christian Episcopal Church. in Florida and Alabama, in a statement Tuesday. “She brings needed insight, expertise and ecumenical commitment to the Council.”
McKenzie is the first woman to hold the combined positions of Corporate Secretary and President of the NCC. She is the third woman and the first African-American woman to serve as General Secretary. She retired in July from the AME Church, having been named a bishop in 2000, the first woman to hold the title in the historically black denomination’s more than 200-year history.
“I look forward to the opportunity to enhance the great work the NCC has already done and to seek strategic ways to amplify its voice,” McKenzie said in a statement. “It is essential in this divisive season in our country that we remain vigilant and visible defenders and bridge-builders.”
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His previous ecumenical work, in roles such as delegate and preacher, includes the World Council of Churches and the World Methodist Council.
Officially founded in 1950, the NCC has its roots in the Federal Council of Churches which began in 1908. The organization has made the fight against racism a central aspect of its work in recent years.
Last week, the board hosted a retreat in Montgomery, Alabama, with programs that expanded CNC’s “ACT NOW to End Racism” initiative launched in 2018.
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