Gender Equality in the Black Church

Who is the first black woman bishop in the CME church?

On June 30, 2010, Teresa Elaine Snorton became the first black woman and the fifty-ninth bishop in the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church. The CME church, founded in 1870, has approximately 850,000 members in 3,500 churches in the United States. Snorton was at first assigned as the presiding bishop of the new Eleventh Episcopal District, which includes eleven countries in Central, Southern, and Eastern Africa. In March 2011 she was assigned to the Fifth Episcopal District comprising of four regions in the states of Alabama and Florida; she remains in this position today. She received her bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University, a master of divinity from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, a master of theology in pastoral care from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, a post-graduate certificate in patient counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University, and the doctor of ministry from United Theological Seminary. Bishop Snorton is a fourth-generation, life-long CME. Her great-grandfather and uncle were CME pastors and her grandmother a missionary. Her two sisters are also CME ministers. She was ordained in the CME Church and formerly served as a pastor in Kentucky. Before moving to Atlanta, Snorton was a pastor, a psychiatric staff chaplain in Kentucky, an adjunct faculty member of the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and on the faculties of the Patient Counseling Program at the Medical College of Virginia and the School of Theology of Virginia Union University. She has also served as executive director of the Emory Center for Pastoral Services in Atlanta, director of pastoral services at Atlanta’s Crawford Long Hospital, and an adjunct instructor in pastoral care at Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Bishop Snorton has published several articles, chapters, and book reviews on pastoral care and ministry.


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