TROY—More than 360 attendees of the 10th annual Leadership Conference Celebrating Black History Month at Troy University heard a message of “practice, patience and perseverance” from the first female Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Bishop Vashti McKenzie opened the conference Friday night with remarks at the Trojan Center Theatre on the Troy Campus. Co-sponsored by the University and the City of Troy, the Leadership Conference annually brings together civic and community leaders, clergy and business leaders in a collaborative and educational forum.
McKenzie drew on lessons learned from her father, a teacher and track coach, in her message. She said the will to prepare and the passion to excel are two primary keys to success.
“Perseverance has little to do with talent,” McKenzie said. “You achieve not because you are destined to be great but because you are determined to. A passionate person with limitations will outperform a passive person with talent.”
Bishop McKenzie, who is a best-selling author and accomplished motivational speaker, urged thos in attendance, which included several dozen TROY students, to be forces for god in their communities and to continually seek out worthwhile projects and opportunities for service. She drew prolonged applause when she asked, “Are you here tonight to do something or are you here to have something to do?”
McKenzie was elected to Episcopal office in 2000 and later in 2004, became the first woman to lead the denomination when she was elected as president of the Council of Bishops. Bishop McKenzie serves the 13th Episcopal District, which includes Tennessee and Kentucky.
Dr. Tyna Davis of the Alabama Education Association introduced Bishop McKenzie and Dr. Linda-Felton-Smith, Superintendent of the Troy City Schools, presided at the Friday evening session.
The conference is scheduled to continue Saturday morning with plenary sessions in the Trojan Center. The conference will close Saturday with a luncheon featuring author, inventor and motivational speaker Dr. Calvin Mackie. Dr. Mackie was appointed to the Louisiana Recovery Authority, leading the state’s rebuilding efforts following hurricanes Katrina and Rita. He is the author of “A View from the Roof: Lessons for Life and Business.” He was featured in Spike Lee’s HBO documentary “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Parts” and has appeared on national shows such as the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer and the Tom Joyner Show.