Other Free Encyclopedias » Online Encyclopedia » Encyclopedia - Featured Articles » Contributed Topics from A-E

Anderson, Vinton Randolph(1927–) - Bishop, Chronology, Becomes Presiding Bishop, Becomes Involved in Community, Receives High Honors

church ame served episcopal

Bishop Vinton Randolph Anderson has made the United States his home since 1947 when he migrated from Bermuda, a small island in the Caribbean, where he was born in Somerset, on July 11, 1927. Anderson is a religious stalwart, who was involved in the social, educational, and economical well being of the African American communities he served. In 1972 Anderson was nominated as the 92nd bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Dallas, Texas. He retired at the 47th General Conference at Indianapolis in February 2004. Anderson’s main goal as a member of the clergy was to foster reconciliation, which he described as harmonious race relations irrespective of the diversity in the society.

Anderson’s parents were Bermudans, but there are no recorded details about their livelihood. His parents could afford to send him to private elementary and high schools on the island where he performed well. Anderson came to the United States when he was twenty years old and entered the Wilberforce University in Ohio, which is affiliated with the AME Church and is the oldest historically black private college in the United States. He received a BA. with honors from Wilberforce. Anderson strengthened his religious knowledge as he gained his master’s of divinity from Payne Theological Seminary in Ohio in 1952. He also received an MA. in philosophy from Kansas University. Anderson continued postgraduate studies at Yale University Divinity School. In addition, Anderson gained honorary doctoral degrees from Paul Quina College, Wilberforce University, Paine Theological Seminary, Temple Bible College, Morris Brown College, Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC), and Eden Theological Seminary.

In preparation for his pastoral duties, Anderson was ordained an itinerant deacon in 1951 and then an itinerant elder in 1952. As early as 1952, Anderson became a pastor at the St. Mark’s AME Church in Topeka, Kansas, where he remained until 1953. He then moved to Parsons, Kansas, where he was in charge of the Brown Chapel AME Church from 1953 to 1955. Anderson continued his religious mission in Kansas as he served St. Luke AME Church in Lawrence from 1955 to 1959. His final duties in Kansas were performed at the St. Paul AME Church in Wichita from 1959 to 1964. Anderson then moved to St. Paul AME Church in St. Louis, Missouri where he served from 1964 to 1972.


1927 Born in Somerset, Bermuda on July 11

1951 Ordained itinerant deacon

1952 Ordained itinerant elder; marries Vivienne L. Anderson

1972 Elected 92nd bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church

1972–76 Presiding bishop for the 9th Episcopal District

1976–84 Presiding bishop for the 3rd Episcopal District

1984–88 Elected as a member of the Office of Ecumenical Relations and Development, and chair of the Bicentennial Celebration

1988–96 Presiding bishop for the 5th Episcopal District

1991 Receives Religion Award, American Black Achievement Awards

1992 Receives Daniel A. Payne Award for Ecumenical Leadership by AME Church

1993 Receives Scroll of Merit Award by National Medical Association

1996–2004 Presiding bishop for the 2nd Episcopal District

2004 Retires at the 47th General Conference at Indianapolis

Becomes Presiding Bishop

Anderson’s good work in the ministry was recognized. After twenty years of serving as a pastor in Kansas and Missouri, he was elected the 92nd bishop of the AME Church in 1972. As presiding bishop he served the AME Church in five Episcopal districts. First, he served in the 9th district in Alabama from 1972 to 1976 before moving on to the 3rd district that encompasses Ohio, West Virginia, and West Pennsylvania where he served from 1976 to 1984. Anderson was absent from serving in the districts as he took on another role until 1988 when he returned to the 5th district which included fourteen states west of the Mississippi River. He also served in the 2nd district based in Washington D.C. from 1996 until his resignation in 2004. Anderson then served as presiding bishop for the 15th Episcopal District in South Africa in a church named for him—Cathedral of Vinton Anderson AME.

In the United Methodist Church, Anderson was a member of the General Commission of Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns from 1984 to 1988. He became the first vice president for the World Methodist Council for the North American region. He was also a member of the executive committee and a delegate to the World Methodist Council and Conference beginning in 1961. His involvement in religious affairs was not limited to the Methodist Church, however; he was a member of the governing board of the National Council of Churches from 1984 to 1989. As a member of the National Council of Churches, he then became the vice chairperson of the Faith and Order Commission and a member of peace pilgrimage of ecumenical leaders that went to the Middle East in 1990. Additionally, he was active in the Congress of National Black Churches (CNBC) where he was vice president, and he was also the vice president of the Consultation on Church Union along with chair for the Worship Commission between 1973 and 1988. From l984 to 1988, Anderson was involved in the Office of Ecumenical Relations and Development where he served as chair of the Bicentennial Celebration.

Internationally, Anderson was involved in the World Council of Churches that had over 560 million members and represented 322 denominations. He was elected president in 1991, and he served for seven years. He also moderated the U.S. conference, board of directors from 1987 to 1991 and, earlier, the liaison committee of Historical Black Churches in 1972. In addition, he was a member of the Site Visit Team to New Zealand and Australia for its program to combat racism in 1972.

Anderson is a renowned international figure. He has preached and lectured all over the world. His travels took him to the Caribbean, South and West Africa, South America, Canada, Taiwan, and Australia. He is well known for his sermons at the Mar Thomas Convention in India in February 1993. At this convention, Anderson preached a series of sermons to the 150,000 people who attended the convention. In 1976, Anderson was a member of a team of church leaders of Africa and African descent visiting nationalist China, and he also toured the Middle East, Europe, the South Pacific, Singapore, Chile, and Russia. In 1994, Anderson returned to Africa with a delegation of twenty-four church leaders on a solidarity journey to the Republic of South Africa and the kingdom of Swaziland. In 1995, Anderson led a delegation from the Washington Annual Conference (WAC) to the home of the Lubicon Cree Nation in Canada. He has also preached and lectured in all regions of the United States.

Becomes Involved in Community

During Anderson’s twelve years in St. Louis, Missouri, he was known for his practical ways in ministering to the people of the community. His pastorate was inspired by a strong commitment to community development. Anderson wholeheartedly believed in social and educational welfare. To fulfill the needs of the people, Anderson developed an adult education program, created a summer youth program, promoted the first African American owned supermarket in St. Louis, developed 162 units of low-income housing in St. Louis County, and chaired Vanguard Bond and Mortgage Company—a company run by community funds. He was, of course, involved in the civil rights movement, advocating for social advancement of African Americans.

Despite his numerous religious involvements, Anderson found time for many community organizations. He was a member of the national census advisory committee on the black population for the 1990 census. Interested in ecology, he joined the Joint Appeal by Religion and Science for the Environment. Anderson was concerned about the whole man, and this led to his involvement in the national Commission on the School/Community Role in Improving Adolescent Health. He also had influence in education as he was a member of the Wilberforce University Board of Trustees, and he was the former chairperson of Payne Theological Seminary Board of Directors. His civil rights involvements included life membership in the NAACP, and he was a member of the St. Louis NAACP, labor industry committee. He also chaired the Urban League of Wichita, Kansas. Anderson was a life member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

Anderson is celebrated globally as a writer and scholar. He wrote and edited many books, articles, and other publications. He wrote the script and delivered the Episcopal address for the 44th session of the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. His most renowned work is My Soul Shouts: The Spiritual Wisdom of Bishop Anderson . Anderson was also instrumental in the development of the bicentennial edition of the AMEC hymnal and the first book of worship.

Receives High Honors

Many organizations have honored Anderson. He was recognized by the Historic Calendar in 1993. He received the Scroll of Merit Award from the National Medical Page 18  Association (1993), and the Daniel A. Payne Award for Ecumenical Leadership by AME Church (1992). Additionally, he received the American Black Achievement Awards (1991), and he was a distinguished alumni honoree of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (1988). A citation was published for Anderson in Ebony magazine, which gave him a religious award in 1988. His name appears in Profiles in Black under the heading, “100 Living Black Unsung Heroes,” by Core (1976). He is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who Among Black Americans, Who’s Who in Religion , and Who’s Who in the Caribbean . Anderson made regular appearances in the media, but his two most memorable moments were on Face the Nation and Tony Brown’s Journal .

Vivienne Louise Cholmondeley became Anderson’s wife in 1952, and they produced four sons—Vinton Jr., Jeffrey, Carlton, and Kenneth. Anderson also has three grandchildren: Natina Louise, Carlton Jr., and Jordan Isaiah Anderson.

André [next] [back] Anderson, Tom and DeWolfe, Chris - Creators of MySpace.com, Career, Sidelights

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or

Vote down Vote up

over 4 years ago

Bermuda is NOT in the Carribean. It is some 800 miles north and is a group of islands in the North Atlantic, approximately 650 miles east of the North Carolina coast

Vote down Vote up

over 4 years ago

Bishop was an extended father of mine. I grew up with his sons, Randy and Jeff.
Unfortunately, he passed last night (July 9, 2014) at home in St. Louis.

Vote down Vote up

almost 7 years ago

A portion of this report should be changed. The Bishop retired in July 2004 instead of February 2004.