Simms For Bishop Message
During my campaign last time, I shared with you, my experiences, and my accomplishments that I feel has prepared me to serve the Church as a Bishop. This time, I will share with you my “Why”.
It has been said, “that we are greater than the sum total of our individual parts.” I believe that this can only be realized when each of us engage in ministry by utilizing our gifts and talents that God has anointed us with to serve God and others. However, this can only happen, when we work together as the Body of Christ, which means that each of our voices must be heard.
I received my first pastoral appointment when I was almost 27, to Cummings Temple, New Orleans. The church grew and we were able to begin a $3.7 million Housing Project, which afforded us the opportunity to help other churches by assisting them with their assessments. My tenure was short lived, because as a young pastor, I had no voice. I was hurt, discouraged and confused, because I believed that the Church of Allen, gave voice to the voiceless by promoting the liberation for all of humanity.
Over that past 25 years, I have realized that I am not the only one who feels that I had no voice. Our Chaplains, who are trained and well prepared with needed gifts and resources that can benefit the local pastor and Episcopal Districts are often underutilized and not recognized. The WIM, who have more enrolled clergy in seminaries and who possess needed gifts and talents that can benefit our Zion throughout the connection are often placed in positions with very little influence, and who now being told that three is enough for now. The laity, who work hard by supporting the local church as well as the Connectional Church, but feel that they have no voice to in critical matters that affect the Church. Our youth and young adults, who are recognized for the giftedness and who oversee businesses and departments, feel that their voice is not heard because they are not given the opportunity to serve in leadership positions at the local church as well as the District. To paraphrase Paul Tillich, “the church is answering questions that no one is asking.” How can we minister to the needs of the people, when we have not given them a voice by listening to them?
In the same manner, the Eighth Episcopal District’s voice has not been heard. In 1952, Bishop Primm was elected as Bishop while serving at Union Bethel, New Orleans. Eight years later, Bishop Collins was elected a Bishop; however, they were not born in the Eighth District. Up to now, those who are natives of the Eighth District were elected a Bishop by serving as a General Officer or by going to serve other Episcopal Districts. So I am running, because I believe, that everyone has a right to be heard. I am running, to be the voice of those who feel that their church has failed them. I am running, so that I can be a voice for those who feel that they have been pushed aside, and not given the opportunity to utilize their God given abilities to minister to needs of others. I am running, because I believe, that the A.M.E. Church’s future is better than our past. A future, that is bright and promising, with each of us having a voice and each of us being engaged in ministry by transforming our church and communities into a place where everyone can realize their personhood and their calling. A place of peace, where lives are transformed and where persons do not merely exist, but strive and thrive for Christ. We are the daughters and sons of Sarah and Richard Allen, but more importantly the daughters and sons of God, created in the image of God, to live a liberated life and to liberate others. And as a Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, I would use my position to be the voice for you and for those who feel that there voice has not been heard. For we cannot be truly free until all of our sisters and brothers are free, by having a voice and by living out their lives to the glory of God.