The African Methodist Episcopal Church, the oldest Black religious denomination in America, announced First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver the keynote address at the 49th Session of the General Conference on June 28, 2012 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, TN. President Barack Obama addressed the AME Conference in 2008 when he was a U.S. Senator.
Host Bishop of the Conference, Presiding Prelate Vashti Murphy McKenzie, stated, “We are extremely honored First Lady Michelle Obama will be sharing her thoughts at this quadrennial meeting. Mrs. Obama’s commitment to family as the Mother-In-Chief is encouraging to women around the world and her leadership in fighting childhood obesity has been embraced by many of our congregations in the United States.”
Nashville is part of the 13th Episcopal District, which comprises Tennessee and Kentucky. The last time the 13th District hosted the General Conference was in 1996 in Louisville, KY., and this year is the first time the conference has been held in Nashville since the late 1800s. The mission of the AME Church is to minister to the spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional and environmental needs of all people by spreading Christ’s liberating gospel through word and deed.
Every four years the AME Church assembles for the General Conference when delegates and leaders from around the world are charged with the responsibility to discuss, debate and pass significant legislation that will impact the mission and ministry of this great Zion.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church has a membership of more than three million people worldwide with an even broader range of influence. There are approximately 7,500 churches throughout North and South America as well as Europe, Africa and India. The Church has established and supports 12 higher education institutions, helping those with diverse backgrounds to obtain formal educational opportunities. The Church was founded in 1787 in Philadelphia, PA, and in 1816 the AME Church became an official religious denomination.
Bishop Gregory G.M. Ingram serves as chair of the General Conference Commission, Bishop John R. Bryant is Senior Bishop and Bishop David Daniels is president of the Council of Bishops.
This 2012 General Conference will salute several “firsts” in the women’s category. Mrs. Obama is the first African- American woman to serve as the First Lady of the United States and the host bishop, Vashti Murphy McKenzie is the first female bishop elected and consecrated in the AME Church, followed by Bishop Carolyn Guidry, the second female elected Bishop, will be the first female to preach at an AMEC General Conference.