Two local pastors were recently elected as bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
The Rev. Harry L. Seawright of Union Bethel AME Church in Brandywine, MD., and the Rev. Frank Madison Reid III of Bethel AME Church in Baltimore, Md., were among the six candidates elected to be bishops at the 50th Quadrennial Conference that was held in Philadelphia on July 11. Seawright elected on the first ballot and Reid was the final bishop elected.
Reid’s election had a lot more drama than Seawright’s. Throughout the day, Reid and his associates caucused and politicked with delegates and fellow competitors to win his post.
“I feel wonderful,” Reid told the AFRO after his victory. “I feel truly blessed.”
Reid’s grandfather and father, both of whom he inherited his name from, were AME bishops and he noted that his father, the late Bishop Frank Reid Jr., was elected as bishop in Dallas in 1972 on the last ballot.
“He was the last one elected in his class and I was the last one elected in my class,” Reid said.
Reid credited his victory to the hard work of his team that consisted of church members and prominent supporters such as the Rev. Grainger Browning of the Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington, Md., in Prince George’s County. Reid’s stepbrother, former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, was in tears as he watched the election and the declaration of victory.
“He has shown character and class,”Schmoke told the AFRO. “There were a lot of people against him but he pulled it through. He is going to be a great bishop.”
Reid credited the support that he got from Baltimoreans for his success.
“Baltimore was behind me 100 percent,” Reid said. “This is a great day for our city. Baltimore was all the way behind me.”
Both Seawright and Reid are from the AME’s Second Episcopal District and it is not common for two pastors from the same episcopal district to become bishops during the same class. Frank Wilds, who is an AME in the District of Columbia, told the AFRO that it shows the influence and power of the Second District.
“Frank and Seawright becoming bishops is quite an achievement,” Wilds said. “It is long overdue for Reid to be a bishop and both of their elections show that the Second District is growing stronger and stronger.”
The four other candidates elected as bishops were the Revs. Dr. Anne Henning Byfield, Rev. Dr. Michael Leon Mitchell, Stafford Wicker, and Brian Brailsford.