By Gladys McElmore
“Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” 1 John 4:4. We, as Black American women, belong to an awesome God who has guided us in the past and presently opens doors for us that no man can close! God has made impressive victories possible for us. All of us have undiscovered abilities and talents unused because opportunities never surfaced for us. We continue to hope because God’s spirit is more powerful than the one that is in the world. As we celebrate successful Black women, let us create a light that leads others to follow Jesus Christ. Today let us reflect on the contributions of two ordained, well known and God-fearing Black women in American culture and history.
Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie is the presiding bishop in the 13th Episcopal District of the African American Episcopal Church (AME) and is also the denomination’s first female bishop. Her biography states that she sought election to become bishop and was elected and consecrated in 2000.
A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she is married to Stan McKenzie and is the proud mother of three children. She has earned three degrees: BA from the University of Maryland, Master of Divinity from Howard University and her Doctorate from the United Theological Seminary in Ohio. She progressed from her ordination (1984) as an itinerant deacon, pastor of historic Payne Memorial AME Church in Baltimore and later served as chief pastor of the 18th Episcopal District in southeast Africa. In 2005, Bishop McKenzie again made history as the first female president of the Council of Bishops of the AME Church. She was the requested speaker at the MLK Memorial Breakfast at the Hampton Roads Convention Center in Hampton, Virginia on January 14, 2012.
Bishop McKenzie urged her audience to, “Focus attention on meeting the challenges of life through service to other people.” Let us not forget that no female has ever served in the office of bishop in any predominantly African American Methodist denomination in America! May God continue to bless her work for Him. Elder Brenda Hughes Andrews is an ordained elder at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Norfolk, Virginia, and she also is a licensed minister. Elder Andrews, a Lynchburg, Virginia native, helped to desegregate the then all white E.C. Glass High School with three other Black children. In 1982 she became the first female Black owner, publisher, president and editor-in-chief of the nation’s third and Virginia’s oldest Black newspaper since 1900. She is a proud mother of one son and grandmother to three grandchildren.
Elder Andrews began her career and became an accomplished journalist when serving in the U.S. Army (4 years) which included duty at the Pentagon. She has been a public school teacher, authored a book (2010) and is greatly sought as a public speaker. Her degrees were earned from California State University at Sacramento with further study at the University of Virginia. Many diverse groups have honored her contributions.
She not only works for herself, but gives other Black women opportunities to showcase their skills, talents and God-given gifts. She is a living knowledgeable inspiration with a radiant personality that encourages all women. Let us continue to support the NEW JOURNAL & GUIDE NEWSPAPER which is the historical voice of the community. Thank God for her dedication and brilliance as a Christian business woman with award-winning inspiring reminders to everyone. She was recently honored at the historic Attucks Theater (February 12, 2012) with 6 other women who have distinguished themselves in their professions. To God be the glory for her outstanding accomplishments, awards and certificates. The New Journal & Guide gives insight to current events related to the African American experiences that guide the newspaper into the 21st century relevancy because of Mrs. Andrews’ work.
As we celebrate the accomplishments of notable Black women, let us research the challenges faced from colonial times to 2012. God is to be praised for our deliverance. Because many Black women have excelled in harsh situations, we honor them and let us continue to press forward with God’s help to do what is required of us as followers of Jesus Christ. May our works speak for us as we strive to serve God and mankind!
Mrs. Gladys McElmore, a resident of Norfolk’s Middle Town Arch Community, is a New Journal and Guide Freelance Contributor on religion. She is a native of Essex County, Va.