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Vashti Murphy McKenzie

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Vashti Murphy McKenzie
Vashti Murphy McKenzie.jpg
Bishop of the Thirteenth Episcopal District
Born May 28, 1947 (1947-05-28) (age 69)
Spouse(s) Stan McKenzie

Vashti Murphy McKenzie (born 28 May 1947) was elected as the first female bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She is also the national chaplain of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and the granddaughter of Delta founder Vashti Turley Murphy.


McKenzie received a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park. Later she received Master of Divinity degree from Howard University and her Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary in Ohio.


McKenzie received her first ordination in 1984 when she was made an itinerant deacon and appointed to pastor a small church in Chesapeake City, Maryland. She was later ordained an itinerant elder and was sent to pastor in Baltimore. While serving as the pastor of historic Payne Memorial AME Church in Baltimore, Maryland, McKenzie sought election to the office of Bishop in the AME Church. She was elected and consecrated the 117th bishop of the church at the General Conference of 2000. Prior to McKenzie's consecration, no female had ever served in the office of bishop in any predominantly African-American Methodist denomination in America. She currently serves as the presiding prelate of the 13th Episcopal District which encompasses Tennessee and Kentucky. Prior to this appointment, McKenzie was the chief pastor of the 18th Episcopal District in southeast Africa. In 2005, McKenzie again made history by becoming the first female president of the Council of Bishops of the AME Church, and the Titular head of the Church. The president of the Council of Bishops serves a one year term. Each member of the council serves a term as president, assuming the office in the order in which they were elected. When asked about her the significance of her election to the office of bishop, McKenzie reportedly told Ebony Magazine that the "stained-glass ceiling had been broken."

Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie served as the chairperson of the General Conference Commission for the 48th Quadrennial Session of the General Conference of the AME Church. At this General Conference, she was reappointed to serve a second term as the presiding prelate of the 13th Episcopal district.

List of works

  • Not Without a Struggle: Leadership Development for African American Women in Ministry (1996)
  • Strength in the Struggle: Leadership Development for Women (2002)
  • Journey to the Well (2003)
  • Swapping Housewives: Rachel and Jacob and Leah (2007)


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