The first woman bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Vashti Murphy McKenzie, will visit St. James AME Church in Denton as part of a districtwide tour.
McKenzie and supervisor Stan McKenzie, her husband, will begin their trip in Texas at the Denton church at 9 a.m. Friday to meet with the Rev. Mason Rice and parishioners of the church.
“We view this as a big moment for us in the life of our church,” Rice said. “As far as we know, this is only the second time a bishop has come to visit every church in the state.”
Vashti Murphy McKenzie is the presiding prelate for the 10th Episcopal District, called the Greater Fort Worth District. The district encompasses churches from Denton to El Paso, Rice said, so visiting each church is a large task.
McKenzie will take two trips to the state to complete her goal, with Denton as the first stop on the starting leg of the trip.
Because of the length of the trip, McKenzie will not be able to spend much time in Denton or at any single church, Rice said, but will be able to make herself more familiar with the churches she represents.
McKenzie was elected in 2000 as the 117th bishop of the church, the first woman in the AME Church to be elected to the office of bishop, according to her biography on the denomination’s website. She began serving the 10th Episcopal District in 2012.
Prior to serving as the presiding prelate of this district, she was the presiding bishop of the 13th Episcopal District, covering Tennessee and Kentucky, and the 18th Episcopal District in southern Africa.
She served on the advisory council of the White House Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in 2009 and is the author of four books.
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.