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Bishop Vinton R. Anderson, who presides over...

Bishop Vinton R. Anderson, who presides over 255 African Methodist Episcopal churches in the western states, was recently elected one of seven presidents of the World Council of Churches.

Anderson, 63, is the first black American to hold the position.

He has residences and offices in Los Angeles and St. Louis and has headed the AME Church’s Fifth District since 1988.

Anderson’s election as a World Council president came at the 7th Assembly of the world body in Canberra, Australia.

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The presidents generally have been nominated and elected to represent a cross-section of the World Council by denomination, continent, gender and racial heritage. Some delegates argued strongly at Canberra that the process was unfair or unwieldy. Other presidents elected in Australia included Egypt’s Pope Shenouda of the Coptic Orthodox Church and Eunice Sanata of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Puerto Rico.

Anderson was among 18 U.S. church leaders who made an anti-war peace pilgrimage to the Middle East last December as a part of the mainline Protestant and Orthodox opposition to war in the Persian Gulf. While several clergy went to Baghdad to press their concerns, Anderson was among six church leaders who visited Jerusalem.

He has been especially active in ecumenical relations. He was on the National Council of Churches governing board from 1984 to 1989 and is vice president of the Consultation on Church Union. Since 1988, he has been moderator of the World Council’s liaison committee for the historically black churches.

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