The Right Rev. William P. DeVeaux is the 113th bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Bishop DeVeaux oversees 400 A.M.E. churches in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina in the church’s second district. He is a husband, a father, a grandfather and a veteran.
Inspired at an early age by his father, Chaplain John DeVeaux, the bishop saw his father as the model of the man he wanted to become. He admired the way his father cared for and treated people.
“I am my father's son, '' proclaimed Bishop DeVeaux. ''One of the reasons I am a preacher is because if my father believed that this man we call Jesus Christ had value and purpose and devoted his whole life to Him, then it must be something.''
Like his father, Bishop DeVeaux served as an army chaplain, and during the Vietnam War provided care and comfort to troops from various racial, cultural and religious backgrounds. He found that work rewarding, meeting the needs of the people by linking the spiritual with the physical side of life.
Bishop DeVeaux believes the future holds great things for the A.M.E. church. When asked about the challenges he faces, he replied, ''A.M.E. has the same issues that all churches have which is trying to make the ministry relevant to a new generation. We are always looking for ways to resonate with a new generation of people while not losing the old generation.''
Bishop DeVeaux said one of the greatest missions today is getting the young people who have little to no background in organized religion, involved in the church. ''I am a child of the Civil Rights Movement. Back then, the church was seen as the center of the Black community. There was a time when everyone knew the Lord's Prayer, a time when every Black girl and boy knew all of the words to Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
He said this isn’t always the case now. “You now have generations of people who didn't go to church and our mission is figuring out how to appeal to them.''
Bishop DeVeaux feels that by bringing in a new generation of young adults, younger people will see this and feel inspired to go. ''Church is a good place to form young people. After [we] teach them about Jesus Christ and the scriptures, then we can become a model for them. It's important to believe in something outside of yourself, and church is a great place for people get together, talk together and worship together.''