Reporter Rodney Manley at The (Macon) Telegraph, Georgia’s third-largest circulation newspaper, has written a nice profile of Bishop James King. Bishop King was appointed earlier this year to be the episcopal leader of the South Georgia Conference.
The full article is no longer online, but here is an excerpt:
King is the South Georgia Conference’s first black bishop…. [But] he doesn’t give the “first black” thing “any attention at all.” He has, as they say, been there, done that. He was the first black pastor at one Tennessee church and later the first black bishop in Kentucky. “I don’t look through that lens,” he said. “I look through a Christlike lens.”. . .
King described his parents as “very devout Christians who nurtured me in every way.” His mother was a public school teacher who played piano and organ and was president of the Methodist women’s group in the church. “I remember her singing lullabies to me and teaching me to bend my knees in prayer. But not only that, I saw them do that.”. . .
King was baptized as a baby, but at age 14, he went before the church during a revival and was saved.
He also declared for the first time publicly that he had been called to the ministry, which he said raised an eyebrow of his school principal. “A typical boy, I was into everything. He said I was just saying that,” King said.
King attended Clark College where he “fell in love with psychology,” due in part to a childhood curiosity. “I understood the rationale of loving people and caring for people, but I didn’t understand how to modify behavior. I grew up with people who would go to revival and church, but noticed their behavior did not change.”
He now believes that faith is “like a virus to an adult,” especially those who were not raised in Christian homes. “It comes into the body as something unknown, and the body reacts to it as if it were an enemy. It’s very difficult to embrace something that you’ve never known, even though you crave it. It’s not only introducing faith, it’s nurturing that faith in adults. You have to really walk it and help people experience something they’re never known before.”. . .
[As for children and youth, Bishop King thinks] the church. . . needs to do a better job of teaching children and young people to “articulate their faith.”
“They’re going to make decisions about careers, about marriage, about their children. We’ve got to make sure our children are not just coming to Sunday school and hiding Easter eggs, which is wonderful, and playing the games, which is also wonderful. They’ve got to be taught the value of the faith. If we do not do that, we leave them without the armor that they need to live the full Christian life.”
In August, King was elected president of the General Commission on United Methodist Men, a national post. He told the commission it should focus on nurturing boys. “We’ve got to stop expecting fruit from men if we’ve not nurtured the root in boys,” he said.
Before being elected to the episcopacy in 2000, James King served three years as a district superintendent and briefly as the senior pastor of the 5000-member Brentwood UMC in Brentwood, Tenn. Other biographical information is here.
Bishop King recently launched a blog at BishopKing.com.