Bishop Carolyn Tyler-Guidry is distinguished by her contributions to ministry, outreach and political action. She is esteemed for breaking through many spheres once thought impossible for women. She was the first female appointed to a major metropolitan church within the African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E), the first female appointed to presiding elder in the Fifth Episcopal District A.M.E. Church and was elected as the second female bishop in the A.M.E. Church. The communities she serves have changed for the better because of her work with the NAACP, One Church One Child, and numerous other civic organizations.
Politic365 recently spoke with Bishop Guidry to gain insight on issues currently facing the church and surrounding communities.
Politic365: What service should the church provide to its congregation and community?
Bishop Guidry: The church serves people 7 days a week. It is not just an 11:00am on Sunday morning entity. If it is, then it is not serving its purpose. The church has to feed people spiritually and physically whatever it takes. A person’s whole life has to be ministered to in some way and the church has the responsibility to do that. The church sometimes has to become the voice for the voiceless. Churches in my district and everywhere are suffering. Someone has to speak out for those who have no voice.
Poltic365: What responsibilities do you carry as the chair of the Social Action Committee of the A.M.E. Church?
Bishop Guidry: My responsibility as chair of the Social Action Committee of the A.M.E. Church is to be aware of issues that are affecting the people in our congregations and our communities; to make the church aware of the issues and to be the voice of the church that speaks to the larger community.
We do not tell people how to vote or who to vote for, but we certainly encourage people to vote. The Bible notes we are to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Paying taxes and voting are things that are required by Caesar, by the government and by those that are in charge of the government. We encourage people to participate in the process because the laws that are made affect everyday living.
Politic365: Tell us about community initiatives that have defined your ministry.
Bishop Guidry: During one of my first pastoring assignments I went into a community with a small black populous that did not interact in local government. I felt it was my responsibility as the pastor and for the congregation that I served to become a voice for them. We started an organization called Unity Center for Human Development. The organization was both political and educational. Under that organization we started a day care center, advocated for street lighting, sidewalks and parks in our community. We became the voice of prayer at city council and school board meetings in order to make a difference for the people who lived there.
At another congregation where I pastored, in addition to a daycare center we operated a feeding program that fed senior citizens of limited income. We started a feeding program at Thanksgiving but continued on a weekly basis because homelessness was beginning to grow in the community. We begin to see it was not just men but whole families that were homeless. As a pastor, I felt that these activities were necessary for the church to carry out.
Politic365: Does the current economy change the role of the church?
Bishop Guidry: If we look at scripture the religious leaders and the church have always been involved in the everyday life of people. Today’s church is no different. We minister on Sunday morning, but we also have to be there throughout the week whenever the need arises. People are not compartmentalized in their living. They are whole people, so what affects them on Monday morning also affects them on Sunday morning. The Bible says it is not enough to say to a man that is cold or hungry be warmed and fed unless you also provide clothes for him or food for him. It is not enough to say to a person get a job unless you do something to allow them to get that job.
Bishop Carolyn Tyler-Guidry is the Bishop for the Eighth Episcopal District of the A.M.E. Church. In this capacity she serves as bishop to over 264 churches in Mississippi and Louisiana. She holds a master’s of theology degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, is a life member of the NAACP and a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated. She is the mother of six children, grandmother of twelve and great-grandmother of two.