Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary 1980
Presiding Elder, North District, Chicago Conference, African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church
Rev. Albert Dillard Tyson, III sums up his ministry with two words: service and inclusion. He believes that God called him to serve his people and to serve them inclusively. In his role as Presiding Elder, he seeks to “include those within the communion who have been marginalized or whose capacities have not been utilized to the fullest extent”—particularly females and younger candidates. In his episcopal district, there are 10 presiding elders, and only one of them is female. But, for Rev. Tyson, “everyone has something to offer to the building of the kingdom,” and providing opportunities to all is a key element of serving God. Inclusion is not only about providing more opportunities for those candidates historically excluded from service, but also it is about making sure that candidates are well prepared for available appointments and can “grow” into top positions.
For Rev. Tyson, faithfulness involves being true to his calling and being responsible for his calling; God expects this of him and can count on him to do so. In the same way, Rev. Tyson expects faithfulness from his colleagues: “God can count on me and I can count on God, colleagues can count on me, and I want to be able to count on them.”
Inspiration in his ministry comes, first and foremost, from Jesus. A child of the parsonage—as well as a grandchild and great-grandchild—Rev. Tyson initially rejected the idea of being a preacher but later was faithful to the clear call he heard: “My parents did not push me, but when the call came, I was very clear . . . it had a profound impact on my life that would change my focus completely.”
He finds further inspiration from his forebears—his father, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, and others of earlier generations: “They inspired me by their willingness to work in the most difficult of situations, to see to it that the kingdom would be established no matter what . . . their endurance and fortitude inspired me.” Rev. Tyson appreciates the pastors in his father’s generation and before for the clarity of their commitment: “Those before us also had bills to pay and families to support but, for them, the gospel and its pursuit was always first.” Instead of asking “What’s in it for me,” they asked instead, “What can I do to promote the kingdom?”