Fraternal, Social Service, and Religious Organizations

Who was the first African-American president of the World Council of Churches?

Vinton Randolph Anderson (1927–) became the first black president of the World Council of Churches, in 1991. He retired from the post in 1998. Anderson was born in Somerset, Bermuda, and received his bachelor’s degree from Wilberforce University in Ohio, his master’s degree in divinity from Payne Theological Seminary, and a master of arts degree from Kansas University. He did further study at Yale Divinity School. Anderson had a stellar career in the ministry, including serving as pastor for a number of African Methodist Episcopal churches in Wichita, Kansas, and in St. Louis, Missouri. He was presiding bishop and chief pastor of the Ninth Episcopal District in Alabama from 1972 to 1976, and served the Third Episcopal District of Ohio, West Virginia, and West Pennsylvania from 1976 to 1984. From 1984 to 1988 he was with the Office of Ecumenical Relations and Development, and in 1988 he was assigned to the Fifth Episcopal District serving fourteen states and 255 churches west of the Mississippi River. Among his numerous accomplishments, Anderson developed the bicentennial edition of a church hymnal.


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