Simms For Bishop Message
During my campaign last time, I shared with you, my experiences, and my accomplishments that I feel have 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 engages in ministry by utilizing the gifts and talents that God has anointed us with to serve God and humanity. 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, at 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. As a young pastor, I felt that 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 liberation for all of humanity.
Over the past 29 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 are 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 in critical matters that affect the Church. Our youth and young adults, who are recognized for their 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 Episcopal 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?
This resonates with me as a son of the Eighth Episcopal District. The Eighth Episcopal District’s voice has not been heard. In 1952, Bishop Primm was elected as Bishop while serving as the pastor of Union Bethel, New Orleans. Eight years later, Bishop Collins was elected a Bishop while serving as a Presiding Elder; however, they were not born in the Eighth Episcopal District. Up to now, those who are natives of the Eighth District were elected a Bishop while serving as a General Officer or serving in other Episcopal Districts. In the history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, no native of the Eighth Episcopal District has been elected a bishop while serving in the Eighth Episcopal District. 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 the 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, transforming our church and communities into a place where everyone can realize their personhood and their calling. A place of peace, where lives are changed, and communities are transformed. A place 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. We are created in the image of God, to live a liberated life and to help 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 their 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. I have worked hard to gain and keep the respect of those whom I have been blessed to serve and I will work hard to earn and keep your trust as a bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.