On Sunday AME Bishop Gregory G.M. Ingram made the unprecedented decision to appoint Rev. Dr. Margaret Elaine M. Flake pastor of the Greater Allen AME Cathedral of New York. Known as Rev. Elaine, she succeeds her husband, the Rev. Floyd H. Flake, who was the lead pastor of the church for over forty years.
As news of the appointment spread, it was met with both disapproval and support. The Flakes’ daughter, Aliya Flake, responded to the appointment by thanking the Bishop for his courageous decision.
“I thank God for the courage of Bishop Ingram, who appointed my mom Senior Pastor of Greater Allen Cathedral on yesterday,” Aliya wrote on Facebook. “If you’re AME or know anything about AME church, you know this is unprecedented and I KNOW it has made many upset, but Bishop Ingram did what was best for Allen, not necessarily popular.”
Greater Allen is the largest congregation in the AME denomination with over 15,000 members. The Flakes began their leadership of the historic church in 1976 when Rev. Flake left his position of Dean of the Chapel at Boston University to become the 35th pastor. Rev. Flake also served as the U.S. Representative for the Sixth Congressional District.
Prior to her Sunday appointment, Rev. Elaine served as co-pastor alongside her husband. In that capacity, she developed various projects including the Allen Women’s Resource Center, which houses women and children who are victims of domestic violence, the Allen Prison Ministry, and co-founded the Allen Christian School serving over 500 African American students.
Rev. Elaine graduated with her bachelor’s degree in English from Fisk University in 1970. She later received two masters, one in English from Boston University and a Master of Divinity Degree from Union Theological Seminary.
In the late 1990s, Flake became a frequent contributor to the various publications including Women of Color Bible Study and Souls of My Sisters: Black Women Break Their Silence, Tell Their Stories, and Devotions for African American Families Learning To Live With All Our Souls.
The new senior pastor lives in New York City with her husband and has four adult children, Aliya, Nailah, Robert, and Harold.