October 2001

Bishop Sanco King Rembert

The first African American Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church

Bishop Sanco King Rembert was the first African American Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church and, in 1987, became the first African American Bishop Ordinary of the Reformed Episcopal Church of the Southeast. In this capacity, he headed 41 congregations and 54 clergy in five states that included: South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and eastern Tennessee. During this time he was also serving as Rector of New Israel Reformed Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Bishop Rembert, one of 14 children of the Reverend Samuel Edward and Mrs. Rozella L. Middleton Rembert, of Pineville, South Carolina, earned his B.S. degree in Chemistry and Mathematics from Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina in 1945. He graduated as a Certified Counselor of Theology from Benedict College. He then worked as a private detective in New York City, while awaiting acceptance to medical school. On April 27, 1947, however, his life was dramatically altered. Bishop Rembert proclaims, “The Lord touched me, and suddenly I felt I should be arresting souls for the Lord, instead of arresting criminals in society.” He studied theology at New York Theological Seminary and received the Master of Divinity degree in 1951, and the master of Sacred Theology degree in 1965. Since 1947, this eminent theologian has served the church in several capacities, such as: rector, counselor, organizer, and Bishop of the Diocese of the Southeast. Since beginning his ministry in the Reformed Episcopal Church in 1951, seven churches in Berkeley, Dorchester, Colleton, and Charleston counties have benefitted from his visionary leadership as rector. Bishop Rembert’s achievements on the Diocese level are very noteworthy. They include: rebuilding the Bishop Jordan Conference Center, following Hurricane Hugo; renovation or rebuilding most of the churches in the diocese; purchasing of a Greyhound Bus for transportation; and expanding the number of churches from 27 to 38. He continues to serve his community as First Vice President of Jenkins Orphanage, Superintendent of New Israel Child Development and Christian School, and Tri-Chair of Charleston Education Alliance. His civic activities also include: Chaplain of Charleston County Hospital, Organizer and President of the Charleston Upper Peninsula Revitalization Association, with primary emphasis on drug eradication and maintaining a safe community; and President, Dean and Professor of Cummins Theological Seminary in Summerville, South Carolina. Bishop Rembert retired in September 1998 after nearly 39 years as Rector of New Israel, 48 years as a minister in the Diocese and Reformed Episcopal Church, and 52 years in Christ’s ministry and service. His diocese and church awarded him emeritus status. He still is an active public servant, and is maried to the former Carrie M. Brooks. They have two daughters, Patricia and Karol Gail Rembert. In March 2000, Governor Jim Hodges appointed him to the South Carolina Board of Paroles and Pardons.