“There are some things I may not know, there are some places I can’t go, but I am sure of this one thing, [my] God is REAL.” —Lyrics paraphrased from hymn, “Yes, God is Real.”
Words can’t begin to express how proud I am of my father’s election and consecration as the 133rd Bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Not only was it his third time running but he was elected as the first bishop to lead the connectional church’s next 200 years in the city in which he almost died.
As the first ballots were being cast, I relied on the words of my cousin whom had dealt with the pressures of elections in the past, “Elections are not won on Election Day.” I was at peace with the outcome.
The countdown of the ballot’s sixth vote went to zero as I updated my Facebook status. I wondered, “How close to the top is he this time, will the madness of the last two quadrennials be relived? Have I matured enough to control my emotions in the moment? This had to be what everyone’s so proud of, I can do this, let’s go!”
The results were posted and Rev. Seawright was on top. My next thought, “How many votes needed?” The answer, “793” and how many did he receive? He got 941! I stood to my feet and lost my mind.
It was over; yet, it was just beginning. My mom was in tears as I hugged and greeted her with “Congrats, Supervisor!” I needed to get to my dad. I had to see his face and to shake his hand. I also wanted him out of the room. I hadn’t felt that energy and feeling of accomplishment in a long time. The hard work, stressful situations, and the break and rebuilding of our relationship had all led to this point. It’s still surreal to believe. “My father’s a bishop! Thank you God!”
High fives and chest bumps were passed as I lost my voice screaming, “FIRST BALLOT, THAT’S MY DADDY!”.By the time he finished his post-election address to the Conference, my respect for him grew. After all that had changed, he remained himself, I could no longer fight the tears. “I’m so proud of him” was all I could say.
I knew my grandmother was somewhere holding her hands together while doing her signature “shout n’ lean” and my uncle would be close by with a huge grin and face full of tears. Their son and brother from Swansea, South Carolina was a bishop of the church they served in all their lives.
My fear about winning the election was that he would lose his closeness with people due to the work and focus necessary to carry out the duties of the position. As his brothers that volunteered to secure him throughout the Conference as well as preserve his space escorted him out, my father greeted everyone he could. He seemed more annoyed by the rush to get him out than the people bombarding him with greetings. It was amazing to see.
I was truly honored to witness this journey by his side over the last 18 months and to be on the victorious side this time around feels completely different. “Yes, God is Real!”
Harry Matthew Seawright is a 29 year-old musician, entrepreneur and student from Fort Washington, MD. Matthew’s goal is to encourage others to conquer the internal challenges plaguing communities and families around the world through social connection, finance & spirituality.