The six newly-elected bishops in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church recently received their assignments and they will be administering to members of their denomination all over the world.
The AME Church Episcopal Assignments (2016-2020) which specifies the assignments for each of the church’s 21 bishops.
On July 13, the AME Council of Bishops assigned Bishop Harry L. Seawright, formerly the pastor of Union Bethel AME Church of Brandywine, Md., to administer to the Ninth Episcopal District, comprising the entire state of Alabama and its 275 congregations and estimated 20,000 members. Seawwright told the AFRO that he is excited about relocating to The Cotton State.
“My family and I will leave here in three or four months,” Seawright said. “Right now, I am focusing on a transitional meeting that is taking place on Monday to see where we go from here.”
Seawright’s colleague in the Mid-Atlantic region, Bishop Frank Madison Reid III, who until his recent elevation to become an AME Bishop, was the pastor at Bethel AME in Baltimore, will be the new ecumenical and urban affairs bishop.
“Bishop Reid has what we call the ‘floating district,’” AME denomination spokeswoman Lisa Duhart-Collins told the AFRO. “If something happens to a bishop, whether they are seriously ill or die, Bishop Reid will be the temporary replacement until the church selects a successor. We have always had someone in that position.”
While it is certain that Reid will travel extensively, it is not clear whether he will have to leave Baltimore.
Bishop Anne Henning Byfield will preside over the 16th District that covers South America, the Caribbean, the Windward Islands, Europe and Cuba while Bishop Stafford Wicker will oversee the 18th District that covers Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Mozambique and Northeast Lesotho. Bishop Brian Brailsford will join Wicker in Africa supervising the 20th District that consists of Malawi and Zimbabwe.
Seawright said there will be a new bishop orientation that is tentatively set to take place in August but where it will take place hasn’t been announced. He also said he didn’t know who will replace him at Union Bethel AME.
“That decision is left up to the new bishop,” he said. “I do have suggestions on who I would like to take this position but I will not make a recommendation to the bishop.”
Seawright said, half-jokingly, that he “would not want to hurt anybody’s chances” of becoming the pastor of the church. Bishop James Levert Davis the Bishop recently assigned to the 2nd Episcopal District ,will decide who will take over not only Seawright’s previous church Union Bethel AME but also Reid’s former church Baltimore’s Bethel AME.
It is generally known that the AME denomination offers its bishops a generous benefits package such as salaries exceeding $100,000, paid housing and travel costs as well as the use of a vehicle and a driver. Seawright said he is pleased with the benefits though they aren’t new to him.
“Many of those things I already get as a pastor,” he said. “What I am excited about is the chance to execute my ministry on a wider scale. I am about encouraging, enabling and empowering and that is what I will take with me to my new assignment.”