Retired bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Vashti McKenzie has been named the interim president and general secretary of the National Council of Churches (NCC).
On Tuesday, the NCC announced McKenzie would succeed Jim Winkler, who resigned from the post on Jan. 31 after serving in the role since 2013, Religion News reports. McKenzie’s term kicked off on April 1 and will continue for two years.
“I look forward to the opportunity to enhance the great work that the NCC has already done and look for strategic ways to amplify its voice,” McKenzie said in a statement.
“It is critical in this season of divisiveness in our country that we remain vigilant and visible advocates and bridge builders.”
The NCC consists of 37 member church denominations, including Protestant, Anglican, historic African American, evangelical, Orthodox, and peace churches. McKenzie is the first woman to double serve in two key roles as the general secretary and president of the NCC.
She is only the third woman and first African American woman to serve as general secretary. McKenzie retired from the AME Church last July after being named bishop in 2000. She was the first woman to serve as bishop in the historically Black church’s more-than-200-year history.
“The National Council of Churches is blessed to have Bishop McKenzie in this key leadership role,” Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, board chair and the leader of Christian Methodist Episcopal Church congregations in Florida and Alabama said.
“She brings the necessary insight, expertise, and ecumenical commitment to the Council.”
The NCC was officially founded in 1950 after its initial work in the Federal Council of Churches in 1908. In recent years, the organization has focused on combating racism in the country.
A recent retreat in Montgomery, Alabama, reintroduced NCC’s “A.C.T. NOW to End Racism” initiative that was first brought about in 2018.