Members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church will add about $700,000 to $1 million to Toledo’s economy when the North Ohio Conference holds its convention at Warren AME Church, 915 Collingwood Blvd., Tuesday through Nov. 1, according to convention and commerce organizations.
It’s a big deal not just for the dollars that attendees from both the Cleveland and Youngstown districts will bring to Toledo. This is the first time in eight years the conference has been in Toledo and the first here for Presiding Bishop McKinley Young, one of only 21 active AME bishops worldwide and the 109th bishop named since the church began in the late 18th century.
Warren “is quite prominent and working very diligently,” Bishop Young said, and he is impressed with the work of Warren’s pastor, the Rev. Otis Gordon.
The pastor wants the church to look good, so “we have done some extensive renovation to the building,” he said, including installing new carpeting, working on the fellowship hall, and improving the grounds.
More than the look, though, is the welcome Warren’s members want to extend. “We want to demonstrate the biblical principle of hospitality,” Pastor Gordon said, showing “the love of Christ by being overly hospitable.
“We expect a large number of people. We want them to be well fed, and the church will take care of that.”
Then, with the attendees taken care of, Bishop Young will get to work. “The bishop will give us his challenge for us and for the North Ohio Conference,” Pastor Gordon said.
As a new bishop in a district, “You hit the ground running,” Bishop Young said. “You have to come in seeing, listening, undertanding, feeling, and perceiving what the real challenges are.”
Since 2012 Bishop Young has presided over the third district, which covers Ohio, West Virginia, and western Pennsylvania. He became a bishop 20 years earlier.
“Bishops in our church can serve a district only eight years at the most,” Bishop Young said, and the assignments, made by the church’s general conference, are for four-year terms. In 1992, he started his episcopacy in Angola, Namibia, and part of South Africa, and served eight years. That was followed by four years in Texas, eight years over Florida and the Bahamas, then taking his assignment in Ohio.
“In 2016, which is our next general conference, I become the senior bishop of the church,” he said. That means he’ll be the longest-serving. “It’s senior in terms of tenure and service; it’s a position of honor and distinction in that regard. You are, along with [being] president of the council [of bishops], given responsibilities. There are certain things that naturally fly your way or end up in your lap, some of which you may want, some of which you may not wish.”
SOURCE: TK BARGER
The Toledo Blade