Presiding Prelate, 5th Episcopal District
Bishop T. Larry Kirkland, Sr. was elected and consecrated the one hundred and fourteenth Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1996, in Louisville, Kentucky. He received his first assignment to the Seventeenth Episcopal District which encompasses the countries of Zaire, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi and Zimbabwe. After four years of International service in the 17th District; the General Conference of 2000 assigned Bishop Kirkland to serve as the Ecumenical Officer representing the denomination all over the world. In 2001, he served as the President of the Council of Bishops and in 2002, was assigned to serve his birth state (Alabama), the “Notable Ninth” Episcopal District. This gave him the distinct pleasure of holding two offices simultaneously. He was reassigned to the “Notable Ninth” District in 2004, where he was proud to provide stellar spiritual and social leadership to the entire state of Alabama. He is credited with implementing a District-wide community outreach program that included computer literacy training and health services for the uninsured. Health Services were provided from the newly erected, state-of-the-art medical facility located on the 167 acre campus of Daniel Payne/Nichols-Thomas-Grady School of Religion. In 2008, the General Conference assigned Bishop Kirkland to the “Favored Fifth” Episcopal District which includes fifteen Western interior and coastal states, Alaska and India.
Prior to being elevated to the Episcopacy, Bishop Kirkland served in the “Favored Fifth” for twenty years as the popular pastor of Brookins Community AME Church in Los Angeles, California and in the Eighth Episcopal District (LA, MS). Upon his arrival in Los Angeles, many ministers dubbed him “A Down Home Preacher” as an insult to his southern roots and style of worship. The then pastor, who possesses an extraordinary love for people and their needs, took that insult as a challenge and armed with an anointing and an awareness of the power of the word of God and the southern lineage of most Angelinos; the Bishop began to distinguish himself as a pastor and grew the mission church of twelve members, into a congregation of more than eight thousand. While at Brookins he established a strong social and political AME presence in the city of Los Angeles and the West Coast where he is now affectionately known as “The Down Home Preacher with the Uptown Message.” The Bishop maintains his ties with the city’s most influential and plans to develop the District both socially and spiritually.
Bishop Kirkland received his early education in the Jefferson County Public Schools of Birmingham, Alabama. His preparation for ministry began under the tutelage of his father Rev. H.E. Kirkland, (an AME minister of over 50 years) and from his mother Gladys, (an educator). He received a B.A. degree in Sociology from Alcorn State University where he was an All-American football player and a Master’s from Mississippi State University. He further developed his ministry through higher education at The Claremont School of Theology and the California Graduate School of Theology. Bishop Kirkland’s education, along with his experiences as an educator and football coach, prepared him for the rigors and challenges of being an effective pastor and now Bishop.
His ministry of over 40 years has placed him in the company of presidents, government officials, and celebrity personalities. He has been featured in Ebony and Jet and was seen by the world via CNN and CSPANN welcoming then Senator Barack Obama to Brown Chapel AME Church’s observance of Bloody Sunday. He is the author of several books on church growth and continues to be consulted by both Christian and civic organizations. His preaching style and ability to develop strong relationships across denominational and cultural lines, have garnered him respect and standing invitations with some of the nation’s greatest ministries.
Bishop Kirkland is married to Mrs. Mary L. Simon-Kirkland and is the proud father of three adult children and the grandfather of one.
Bishop Theodore Larry Kirkland, Presiding Prelate