The first pastor of the Brookins Community AME Church, 4831 S. Gramercy Pl., has been assigned the presiding prelate of the Fifth Episcopal District. The Rt. Rev. T. Larry Kirkland, the pastor of Brookins for more than 20 years, is the chief pastor of the Fifth Episcopal District, which includes California.
Bishop Kirkland was assigned at the close of the 48th legislative session of the General Conference of the AME Church in St. Louis, Mo., on July 11. He succeeds the Rt. Rev. John R. Bryant, who was assigned to the Fourth Episcopal District. More than 30,000 delegates, members and friends witnessed the session, July 4-11.
Elected and consecrated the 114th bishop of the AME Church, Bishop Kirkland comes to the Fifth after serving the Ninth Episcopal District, (Alabama), his home state, and at the same time served as the ecumenical officer of the church. Following his election to the highest office of the church, he was assigned and presided over the 17th Episcopal District which includes the countries of Zaire, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
Bishop Kirkland was elected while serving Brookins Community AME Church, where he was known throughout the district and nation as the “down home preacher with the uptown message.” He led this congregation of 12 members to more than 8,000, and was highly sought after for speaking engagements. He was instrumental in leading the congregation in several ministries providing for the members and the community, which included radio and television ministries.
A native of Birmingham, Ala., Bishop Kirkland received his early education in the Jefferson County Public School System. His preparation for ministry began under the tutelage of his father, the Rev H.E. Kirkland, an AME pastor. He received his bachelor’s degree from Alcorn State University, where he was an All-American football player, and a master’s degree from Mississippi State University. Further study was done at the School of Theology in Claremont.
Married to the former Miss Mary L. Simon, they are the parents of three adult children and a grandchild. Mrs. Kirkland, the new Episcopal supervisor, received her bachelor’s degree in education at Jackson State University. Additional study was done at Delta State University, California State University, Dominguez Hills and Pepperdine University.