About The 18th District
The 18th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church serves the communities of 4 countries in the Southern part of Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and parts of Mozambique. The 18th Episcopal District is comprised of 183 churches across the regions. It is home to three Episcopal Projects, The Selulasandla Vashti Children Village, The M. Joan Cousin Youth and Women Empowerment Center and the F.C. James AME Services.
The Rt. Reverend Dr. Stafford J.N. Wicker
The Right Reverend Stafford Joe Nathan Wicker is the 137th elected and consecrated Bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Bishop Wicker’s was assigned to the 18th Episcopal District which consists of the following countries: Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Swaziland at the 50th Quadrennial Session of the General Conference. He is an advocate for social justice, economic empowerment and professional development. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio. After graduation in 1982 from Wilberforce University, he received his first pastoral appointment from Bishop Donald George Kenneth Ming where a new church was constructed at Turner Chapel AME Church in Roseland, LA. He earned the Masters of Divinity and Doctorate of Ministry from Turner Theological Seminary. He doctoral dissertation was on “How the Local A.M.E. Church Congregations Can Engage Community with HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention”.
In 1987, he was appointed to the Toomsboro Circuit in the Augusta Annual Conference by Bishop Frederick Hilborn Talbot. In 1988, he served as Pastor of the Mt. Zion AME Church in Mansfield, GA. During his tenure there, the debt was liquidated and a bank relationship was set for new renovations. The congregation for the first time in its history began to worship every Sunday instead of two Sundays a month. In 1990, he was appointed by Bishop John Hurst Adams to the Mt. Carmel AME Church in Atlanta, GA. The membership was 80 upon arrival with annual giving of $65,000. Upon departure, the membership was 135 with annual giving of $103,000. We set in motion and completed installation of a new 50-car parking lot. The HVAC systems were installed throughout the church.
In 1992, Bishop Wicker was moved to the Antioch AME Church in Decatur, GA. There were 155 members with an $84,000 operational budget and a 1.8 acre lot where there was a beautiful church building. In 1995, the late Bishop Ming led the way to accomplish the largest AME church acquisition in the amount of $1.1 million at the time of purchase. Today, the operating budget stands at $1.6 million with a membership of 2200 and 84 acres of landholdings. In 1998, the Antioch Community Development Corporation was developed for the purpose of economic and community development in the state of Georgia. In year 2000, 32 acres was purchased for this vision. In 2005, the Antioch Manor Estates was developed at a cost of $14.3 million. In 2010, the Antioch Gardens and Villas were developed at a cost of $13.7 million. The Antioch Summits is being developed at a cost of $16 million. In 2007 a third church campus was acquired in Conyers, GA. giving Antioch the distinction of owning and controlling 84 acres of land. This project has a total value of $48 million.
Bishop Stafford Wicker and Episcopal Supervisor, the Rev. Dr. Constance Wicker are the proud parents of two daughters, Valencia M. Wicker and Lauren M. Wicker.
The Reverend Dr. Constance Belin Wicker
Constance Belin Wicker is the Episcopal Supervisor of the 18th Episcopal District serving the five countries in the southern region of Africa; Botswana, Swaziland, Mozambique and Lesotho. She is an advocate for early childhood education, children and youth spiritual formation, women and economic empowerment. She has a strong desire to empower women, children, youth and young adults.
She is the third child of seven children of Edward and Mary Belin. She attended Greens Chapel A.M.E. Church in Louisiana where she was an active member of the Sunday school, youth choir, gospel choir and the YPD. Inspired by her grandparents, she has always had a love for serving the Lord. She has been a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church all of her life.
Mrs. Wicker graduated early from Capitol Senior High School with high honors. Upon completion of high school, she matriculated to Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, obtaining a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Pre-Medicine Zoology with a Math minor. She later began graduate studies at Louisiana State University with a concentration in Biology. After receiving her call to the ministry, she matriculated to Turner Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia, obtaining a Master of Divinity degree. In May 2016, she obtained a Doctorate of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary. In June 2009, at the Atlanta North Georgia Annual Conference, she was ordained as an Itinerate Elder.
Her vocational background includes positions as a chemical lab tech for Georgia Pacific, US Steel, Exxon USA, and Coca-Cola USA. After relocating to Atlanta, Georgia, she pursued a career in business banking where she held the position of Teller Manger for fifteen years. Prior to her husband’s appointment to the 18th Episcopal District, Dr. Wicker served 16 years as the Childcare Director for Antioch A.M.E. Church’s Daycare facility in Atlanta Georgia.
By the recommendation of Dr. Pam DeVeaux, in 2004, Dr. Wicker was assigned to chair and direct the Angel Tree Ministries for the 6th Episcopal District. Angel Tree Ministries is a program that provides gifts and mentoring to children with incarcerated parents. Under her leadership more than 16,000 children have received gifts.
Dr. Wicker is a member of Theta Phi, an honor society for religious scholars. She has several honors including Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, The Josephus Coan Award, the Academic Excellence Award, the Dean’s Award and the President’s Award for graduating with the highest GPA.
Dr. Wicker’s hobbies include reading, cooking and traveling. She has had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the United States, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean. She is married to Bishop Stafford J.N.Wicker, the elected and consecrated 137th Bishop of the AME Church and they are the proud parents of two wonderful daughters, Valencia and Lauren.
Her favorite scripture: “ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
The African Methodist Episcopal Church
Introduction to the A.M.E. Church
We are the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Birth in the shadow of slavery, racial prejudice and social injustice, we currently represent 39 countries in 6 continents, more than 15, 576 congregations and over 2.5 million members. Our primary task is to invite people into relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We equip believers to render service as an expression of their life in Christ, we inspire ministries to fulfill the mission of Christ love to the world and we live accountable in faith and love to one another. We are a Bible believing people. The Word of God is the lamp that brightens our path. We are called to into a genuine walk of discipleship. Let us find joy in sharing the good news of Jesus to the world as we patiently grow in grace.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church ministers to the spiritual, social, and physical development of all people.
At every level of the Connection and in every local church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church shall engage in carrying out the spirit of the original Free African Society, out of which the African Methodist Episcopal Church evolved; that is to seek out and save the lost, and to serve the needy. It is also the duty of the Church to continue to encourage all members to become involved in all aspects of Church training.
To implement strategies to train all members in:
- Biblical Truths (The Word of God)
- Christian Discipleship, Stewardship and Leadership
- Christian Living
- The History of the AME Church
- Spiritual and Social Development toward daily living
We are part of a connectional church. The local congregation is one location of the global church. Our local congregations are part of a Presiding Elder District. The Presiding Elder district is a part of the Annual Conference. The Annual Conference is the governing body of the General Church. The Annual Conference is part of the Episcopal District. The Episcopal District is part of the Connectional Church, the one church. We are one church in 15,576 locations. The Leadership of our church is determined by the appointments of our Bishops.
We are led by 21 active Bishops. All Bishops are Itinerant Elders of the church and all Bisops are equally responsible for the church. Our Bishops are assigned to serve the Episcopal Districts of our churches. One Bishop is selected to serve as the ‘ecumenical” officer of our church. He/ She is responsible for representing our church in national settings allowing the remaining Bishops to focus on the work of the Episcopal District.
The Episcopal District’s leadership is provided by the assigned Bishop. The Annual Conference’s leadership is provided by the Bishop with the support of appointed officers selected at the annual session of the Annual Conference. The Presiding Elders’ District’s leadership is provided by the Presiding Elder appointed by the Bishop for a one-year term. The local church’s leadership is provided by the pastor appointed by the Bishop for a one-year term.
We are a tithing church. Every church shall work toward a full tithing commitment. The tithe is returning one-tenth the substance God has provided. Leviticus 27:30-31. Tithing is voluntary. It is an act of obedience to God’s principle of stewardship. Malachi 3:9-12
Explanation of Financial Giving
Tithes is what we owe God. Everything we have we are to give back to God a portion. We summarize our tithes in Time, Talents (God given gifts) and Treasures (money, bonds, gifts, etc.).
Offering is what we give to God and others. It is our gift of thanks for all that God has done. There is no set amount on your gift, it’s a gift.
Alms/Benevolence is our gift to others in need. God expects us to not only give to the work of the church but we are to give in support of others.
Our Response to Others
The local congregation supports the work of the church through their spiritual gifts, sharing of their time and their financial contributions. The local congregation pays into the Connectional, Episcopal and Presiding Elder’s budget. The support of these entities depends of the support of the local congregations. These funds assist the church in meeting the needs of a global world, providing training to the local congregations, supporting institutions of primary, secondary and higher education. providing homes, health care and orphanages to the disadvantaged and supporting our global church’s mission enterprise.
The Meaning of Our Name
African (A) is our heritage. It means that the church was organized by people of African descent and heritage. It does not mean that the church was founded in Africa, or that it was nor is today for persons of African descent only.
Methodist (M) is our practice. The church’s roots are of the family of Methodist churches. Methodism provides an orderly system of rules and regulations and places emphasis on a plain and simple gospel.
Episcopal (E) is our governance. It means that the church is governed by the bishops. We are an inclusive church. Our doors are open to all who desire to live their life in Christ, regardless of race/ethnicity, national origin, gender, political beliefs, disability or age.
Our Logo, Our Brand
The Cross and Anvil together is a visible symbol of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. We have had the Cross and Anvil as our brand for a number of years. “The Cross and Anvil” is a registered trademark and its use is supervised by the AMEC Sunday School Union.
The Cross represents salvation, sacrifice and service; it was on the cross we received God’s gift of salvation; Jesus sacrificed His life for ours and service is what Jesus modeled for us, Mark’s gospel records “he did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many”.
The Anvil is the historic symbol of the African Methodist Episcopal church, it represents the sacrifice of a young African congregation to purchase their first place of worship and to utilize an anvil as a pulpit in the renovated Blacksmith Shop. It is on an anvil where the pounding and shaping of metal ores transforms into useful materials. The laborer, the hammer and the fire may fail but the anvil never failed. It represents our beginning and our strength.
What We Believe
The Affirmation of Faith, also known as the Apostle Creed is a summary statement of what we believe. We have 25 Articles of Religion which guide us in our belief. We believe there is one living and true God. In unity of this God-head, there are three persons of one substance, power and eternity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
We believe that the Holy Bible is the Word of God. We believe it contains all things necessary to salvation.
We believe there are two sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord, in the Gospel, Holy Baptism and the Supper of the Lord (Eucharist). We believe Baptism is a sign of regeneration or new birth. Baptism of young children is to be retained in the Church. The Supper of the Lord is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ’s death, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ and the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ. We do not believe in “transubstantiation”. We believe in the “real presence” of Christ in the sacrament.
We believe salvation is a gift of God. For God so loved the world that He Gave His only begotten Son. Our salvation was purchased on Calvary’s cross. Jesus died as the final atonement of sin. Salvation does not occur when we accept God’s gift, salvation occurred when Jesus died. If salvation is the action of individual acceptance it is perceived that we have control over salvation, it becomes something we have done. To understand salvation as a gift of God makes it clear that it is the action of Christ’s sacrifice that we are saved.