The pastor of a church in Whitney Pier has been appointed the worldwide head of the African Orthodox Church, a denomination with parishes in the U.S., the West Indies, Africa and Canada.
Archbishop Vincent Waterman of Sydney was enthroned to the position of patriarch on Sunday at a ceremony in Sydney. He's served in parishes in New York and was the chaplain at Riker's Island prison in his native New York before taking over St. Philip's African Orthodox Church in Whitney Pier in 1983.
In the 1960s, he worked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Waterman says his priorities will include doubling church attendance — especially among younger parishioners — and encouraging a bigger role for women in church ministry.
The church has 5,000 members worldwide.
Waterman says he would love for his legacy to involve getting more people into the church.
"We can get this world to become more human to one another. We could do so much more to alleviate pain and suffering. My job is to preach this to people, to bring their children to church, come to church and learn that there is a higher power. There's no other way out," he said.
Archbishop Sylvester Young is a longtime friend of Waterman's and says he is well suited for the leadership role.
"Every church has problems, but here's a man who will take those problems within his own heart and will build this church back to the status it should be," said Young.
St. Philip's will host the ordination of its first female priest, Phyllis Marsh, next Sunday.