By Special to the AFRO
May 10, 2022, Washington, DC – Today, the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) welcomed Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie to her first business meeting of the NCC Governing Board as Interim President and General Secretary. Bishop McKenzie started in the position on April 1, 2022, and has immersed herself in the work of the organization. This initial period of exploration culminated in a Board retreat held last week in Montgomery, Alabama with programming that built upon NCC’s current priority, the “A.C.T. NOW to End Racism” initiative that was started in 2018.
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.
“I am honored to have been invited to serve the National Council of Churches. I look forward to the opportunity to enhance the great work that the NCC has already done and look for strategic ways to amplify its voice. It is critical in this season of divisiveness in our country that we remain vigilant and visible advocates and bridge builders,” said Bishop McKenzie.
Prior to this assignment Bishop McKenzie served as the 117th elected and consecrated bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. 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 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 native of Baltimore and a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, Howard University, School of Religion and has an earned doctorate from United Theological Seminary. The great granddaughter of AFRO Newspaper founder, John H. Murphy, Sr., Bishop McKenzie also serves as the National Chaplain of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
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.
“We welcome the experience of Bishop McKenzie to the NCC,” said Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, NCC Governing Board Chair and Presiding Bishop of the Fifth Episcopal District, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.
“The entire Board is excited to have Bishop McKenzie”, added Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, NCC Governing Board Vice Chair.
Serving as a leading voice of witness to the living Christ in the public square since 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) brings together 37 member communions and more than 30 million Christians in a common commitment to God’s love and promise of unity.