It is with great sadness that we report that Bishop Sarah Frances Davis, Vice President of the World Methodist Council, passed away after a brief illness.
Bishop Davis was the 126th elected and consecrated Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E. Church). Bishop Davis served as the presiding prelate of the16th Episcopal District, comprised of churches and schools in South America (Guyana and Suriname); Windward Islands (Trinidad, Tobago, Barbados and Grenada); the Caribbean Islands (Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Virgin Islands); and Europe (London, the Netherlands and France). On June 24, 2013, in Kingston Jamaica, Bishop Davis was named President of the Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC), during a special Investiture Worship Celebration.
Bishop Davis was affectionately known as the “Prayer Bishop” because of her consistent emphasis on the importance of prayer in the life of the Church. She was chairperson of the prayer committee for the 48th Quadrennial Session of the General Conference of the A. M. E. Church. As a result of her leadership, the first Connectional Day of Prayer in African Methodism was held April 13, 2008, and is now an annual observance in African Methodism.
Her first Episcopal assignment was to the 18th Episcopal District, comprised of the Southern African countries of Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, and Mozambique. A staunch advocate of empowerment through education, Bishop Davis gave exemplary leadership to over 39 A.M.E. Church-sponsored schools in Southern Africa.
She introduced the first ever summer science and math institute program in Lesotho to globalize and develop the knowledge of students and teachers and granted a record number of academic scholarships to young people, adults and clergy while in the 18th District. During her term, two clerics earned degrees in theology from universities in South Africa and Mozambique and four earned diplomas in Theology in Botswana. For the first time, English classes were provided for Portuguese-speaking lay and clergy persons in A.M.E. Churches in Beira, Mozambique which resulted in many receiving English as Second Language (ESL) certificates.
Also, during her tenure in the 18th District, Bishop Davis was a champion for orphaned and vulnerable children. Under her leadership the Selulasandla Vashti Village, an 18th District sponsored orphanage, grew in housing capacity from 4 to 21 orphans. In April 2008, Bishop Sarah dedicated the first A.M.E. Church-sponsored orphanage built in the mountains of Mokhotlong in the country of Lesotho: The T’sepong Cecelia Williams Bryant Home.
In October of 2012, Bishop Davis represented the World Methodist Council as a guest of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI at the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome, Italy. The meeting, held under the theme The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith, addressed the call of the Church to its original missionary goal and sought to rekindle the original fire in Christians worldwide.
Bishop Davis was a trailblazer in her ministry; prior to her Episcopal election, she served for seven years as the first female pastor of the 115-year old Bethel A.M.E. Church in San Antonio, Texas. With this appointment, Bishop Sarah became the first woman in Texas to be appointed to a major A.M.E. Church.
Bishop Davis served as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Houston Graduate School of Theology, served as Chair of the Global Development Council (GDC) of the A.M.E. Church (2009-2011) and was a member of the Jamaica Council of Churches.
Bishop Davis trained to perform in all areas of her life’s calling having earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from Southern Methodist University Perkins School of Theology, a Master of Divinity from the Houston Graduate School of Theology, a Master of Science from New York Pace University, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Texas.
“In October [World Methodist Council Youth and Young Adult Coordinator] John Thomas III and I had a chance to visit Bishop Davis on behalf of the World Methodist Council. We found her to be in great spirits and excited that her hopes for the Council meeting in London were realized,” remarked General Secretary Ivan Abrahams.
Bishop Davis is survived by her husband, Claytie Davis, Jr., her sons and Corey B. Davis, and Dr. Claytie Davis, III his wife Yolanda and a grandchild, Alexandra Morgan Davis.
“During this time of grief when we are very forcefully reminded that death is woven into the very fabric of our human existence, I ask that you pray that the Davis family will know God’s love and comfort in a very special way,” added General Secretary Abrahams.
The Lord is near to those who mourn; he lifts up those who whose spirit is crushed – Ps 34:18
The World Methodist Council would like to convey heartfelt condolences to the Davis family.