The Right Reverend Stafford Joe Nathan Wicker is the 137th elected and consecrated Bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. At the 51st Session of the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s General Conference 2021, Bishop Wicker was assigned to serve the 8th Episcopal District, comprised of Mississippi and Louisiana, in the United States. He is an advocate for social justice, economic empowerment, and professional development.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio. After graduation in 1982 from Wilberforce University, he received his first pastoral appointment from Bishop Donald George Kenneth Ming to Turner Chapel A.M.E. Church in Roseland, LA. Under his leadership, a new church was constructed. He earned the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Divinity from Turner Theological Seminary. His doctoral dissertation was entitled, “How the Local A.M.E. Church Congregations Can Engage Community with HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention.”
In 1987, he was appointed to the Toomsboro Circuit in the Augusta Annual Conference by Bishop Frederick Hilborn Talbot. In 1988, he served as pastor of the Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church in Mansfield, GA. During his tenure there, the debt was liquidated, and a banking relationship was established for new renovations. For the first time in its history, the congregation began to worship every Sunday, moving from its tradition of two Sundays per month. In 1990, he was appointed by Bishop John Hurst Adams to the Mt. Carmel A.M.E. Church in Atlanta, GA. The membership was 80 upon arrival with an annual giving of $65,000. Upon departure, the membership was 135, with an annual giving of $103,000. Under his leadership, a new 50-car parking lot was constructed, and HVAC systems were installed for the church.
In 1992, Bishop Wicker was assigned to the Antioch A.M.E. Church in Decatur, GA, where a beautiful edifice was situated on a 1.8-acre lot. The 155-member congregation maintained an $84,000 operational budget. In 1995, the late Bishop Ming led the way to accomplish the largest A.M.E. church acquisition at the time, a picturesque church campus in Stone Mountain, at $1.1 million. Today, the operating budget stands at $1.6 million with a membership of 2200 and 84 acres of landholdings. In 1998, the Antioch Community Development Corporation was developed for the purpose of economic and community development in the state of Georgia. In the year 2000, 32 acres were purchased to actualize this vision. In 2005, the Antioch Manor Estates was developed at the cost of $14.3 million. In 2010, the Antioch Gardens and Villas were developed at the cost of $13.7 million, with plans for the $16-million development of Antioch Summits. A third church campus was acquired in Conyers in 2007, giving Antioch the distinction of owning and controlling a portfolio of 84 acres of land, valued at an impressive $48 million.
In 2016, Bishop Wicker was elected by the 50th Session of the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s General Conference and appointed to the 18th Episcopal District. Included under his leadership were the following countries: Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Swaziland. His 5-year tenure was epitomized by extraordinary energy, empathy, and integrity, as he inspired God’s people and represented the ideals of African Methodism throughout the Connectional Church. These hallmarks of leadership will be experienced as he returns to his home District, the 8th Episcopal District, to engage, empower, and innovate for Kingdom-building.
Bishop Stafford Wicker and Episcopal Supervisor, the Rev. Dr. Constance Wicker, are the proud parents of two daughters, Valencia M. Wicker and Lauren M. Wicker.