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NORMAL — Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, who made history as the first female titled head of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, will be the featured speaker at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards luncheon Jan. 17.

McKenzie is the author of five books including her newest, "Those Sisters Can Preach!," which includes 22 sermons from nationally known women preachers. She was national chaplain for Delta Sigma Theta sorority and is a lifetime member of the NAACP.  

She has received honorary doctorates from Howard University, Wilberforce University, Central State University in Ohio, Morgan State University and Goucher College.

McKenzie was ordained in 1984. She earned a master's degree in divinity from Howard University Divinity School in 1985 and a doctor of ministry from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. She was elected and consecrated as the 117th bishop of the AME Church in 2000 while serving as chief pastor of the 18th Episcopal District in southeast Africa.

Tickets for the 39th annual awards luncheon are $20 and available at Bloomington and Normal city halls. The luncheon begins at 1 p.m. in the Bone Student Center, Illinois State University.

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