Hundreds of faithful members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, well-wishers and supporters gathered at the First District Plaza, 3801 Market St. Thursday for the installation of Presiding Bishop Gregory G.M. Ingram at the annual Fall Convocation.
Bishop Ingram, a native of Detroit, is the denomination’s 118th consecrated bishop. The First District AME Church is the oldest in the country, founded in 1787 by Richard Allen and Absalom Jones in Philadelphia.
Robert W. Bogle, publisher of The Philadelphia Tribune, brought greetings to the bishop.
“He brings a new dimension to this city with a sense, I hope that you would agree with me, a rebirth. He comes after having honed his skills in many villages across this nation,” he said.
“He brings some new and meaningful changes for this church, and he certainly has some serious ideas about how we can move and make this a better community for all us.”
The crowd responded enthusiastically as members of the panel of ministers rose one by one to celebrate the bishop..
Ingram said the AME Church’s Fall Convocation brings together churches, ministers and congregations from as far away as Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Bermuda.
“This is done, first of all because Methodists are a denomination of people who report,” said Ingram. “We have people who are reporting various assessments. This is also where we get our marching orders, where God is leading us in the next six months or so.”
He described the Fall Convocation as “a checkup meeting or half-way point, a spiritual time during which members of the church envision God doing great things in their lives.”
“It’s just a phenomenal time, and every year we come with great expectations,” he said.
The Rev. William Watley, pastor of St. Phillip AME Church in Atlanta, said the Convocation brought together all the AME churches in the Northeast.
“They invited me to be a preacher, that’s all,” said Watley. “They get together here in the city where we were founded, on a regular basis.”
Watley told his listeners that if they were faithful, God would elevate them in time.
“Those who do not like us cannot stop what God wants to do for us,” he said.
The AME Church has membership in Episcopal districts spanning some 39 countries.