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Elder Elizabeth Elaine Yates

4:33 PM, Jan 27, 2012   |    comments
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When I think of African American women and their contributions to culture the first thought that comes to mind is Isabella Baumfree, one of my heroines who changed her name to Sojourner Truth after escaping from her owner to become a Christian preacher and a vehement and vocal supporter of abolition and women's rights. Sojourner Truth traveled the country giving speeches, including a famous one entitled "Ain't I
a Woman?", that gave emphasis to the strength and power of women and the need for equality between the sexes. Since her prominent rise as a successful conductor of the Underground Railroad, we have produced other abolitionists, astronauts, authors, aviators, community leaders, educators, freedom fighters, military officers, poets, a surgeon general, talk show hosts, politicians, and CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies to
further prove the many notable contributions of African American women that have made positive achievements in our society.

I am a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. I did not choose my profession, but rather my profession chose me. My profession should be classified as a vocation rather than an occupation. I remain in this vocation because it is rewarding to see the lives of people change because of their faith and the proclamation of God's Word.

My work has contributed to this culture by achieving a number of firsts - first female minister from historical Greater Grant Memorial
African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the first female minister appointed to my next three churches. I presently serve as the first female Presiding Elder in the history of the 11th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; supervising 24 churches. I believe that my firsts have not occurred by accident, but by the hand of God and the recognition of extremely hard work and sacrifice.

I am encouraged by many people in all of the places where I serve. I have been greatly influenced by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune who sacrificed so much, and influenced with such dignity during a crucial period in the lives of Black people. She established an educational institution for our children and left a great legacy. The Bishops and the Presiding Elders of the AME Church and their spouses have mentored me. My professional female role model is Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, our first female bishop, because of the pastoral experience, education, beauty, and poise that she brought to the Council of Bishops bench.

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