George Alexander McGuire
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George Alexander McGuire was the first Bishop, Metropolitan Archbishop of the African Orthodox Church (AOC). He was an Episcopal Priest who became involved in a movement to establish a Black Anglican denomination. He was consecrated a Bishop 28 September 1921 in Chicago, Illinois by Joseph Rene Vilatte, the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archdiocese of America of the Syrian Church of Antioch. Archbishop Vilatte was assisted by Bishop Carl A. Nybladh. This consecration placed Bishop McGuire in valid apostolic succession, something he greatly desired.
McGuire was from the Caribbean and was born on 28 March 1866 in Sweets, Antigua. He studied in local grammar schools, a teacher's college and the Moravian Seminary. He first served as a pastor of Moravian churches. Later in his career in 1910, he became a physician and surgeon at the Boston College of Physicians and Surgeons while he was a pastor in Cambridge, MA.
The AOC was originally called the Independent Episcopal Church. At its first Conclave (i.e., meeting of its House of Bishops), 10 September 1924, the name was changed to African Orthodox Church. Rev. McGuire was unanimously elected Archbishop of this new Church, enthroned with the title Archbishop Alexander.
Rev. McGuire has previously served for several years as the Chaplain of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA), an organization founded and led by Marcus Garvey. When he decided in 1924 to relocate UNIA headquarters to the West Indies, McGuire decided to leave UNIA and instead devote himself to the expansion of his Church. Endick Theological Seminary was founded shortly thereafter, as well as an Order of Deaconesses. A church magazine, the Negro Churchman, also began publication with McGuire as its Editor.
McGuire founded a parish of his denomination in West Palm Beach, Florida in 1925. Two years after that, he consecrated an African clergy as Metropolitan Archbishop for South Africa and central and southern Africa, William Daniel Alexander. At the same time McGuire was elected Patriarch of the denomination with the title Alexander I. The church then spread to Uganda, as well.
Patriarch McGuire died 10 November 1934. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, NYC. He was survived by his wife, Ada Robert McGuire (a native of Antigua), and one daughter. At the time of his death the African Orthodox Church had about 30,000 members and about fifty clergy in thirty parishes located in the U.S.A., Africa, Cuba, Antigua and Venezuela. George Alexander McGuire was canonized by the African Orthodox Church on July 31, 1983 and is considered a saint of the church.
African Americans and Orthodox Christianity
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