Crossroads United Methodist Church (UMC) in Compton celebrated 30 years of ministry on Dec. 4, with Bishop Cedrick D. Bridgeforth delivering the celebratory sermon. Bridgeforth recently made history as the firstly openly gay African-American man to be elected a bishop in the UMC, a denomination with 12 million members worldwide with 6.5 million in the United States.
On January 1, he will become bishop of the Greater Northwest Area, the largest geographic UMC region in the United States, serving in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and small parts of Canada as well. Bridgeforth is a “Son of Crossroads” with his first ministry assignment in seminary at the church.
An ordained minister, Bridgeforth most recently served as the director of innovation and communications for the California-Pacific Conference of the UMC. For over 30 years, Bridgeforth has been a trusted leader, offering his gifts and expertise in various pastoral, administrative, and leadership capacities.
As a spiritual leader, he has served as lead pastor in four congregations in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Those pastorates ranged from predominantly African-American congregations in the heart of the Crenshaw District to multi-ethnic, multicultural, multi-lingual, and multi-site ministries in the inner-city and suburban sectors of Santa Ana. These pastorates included Grace UMC Los Angeles , Santa Ana UMC, Crenshaw UMC, and Bowen Memorial UMC.
For eight years, he served as a district superintendent and dean of the cabinet in the California-Pacific Conference (Los Angeles and West Districts), one of the most diverse regions in United Methodism with language and cultural ministries from over 20 regions of the world. The geography spanned coastal, mountain, rural, and desert communities.
From 2013 to 2016, Bridgeforth served as president of Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR) and co-convener of the Inter-Ethnic Strategy Development Group.
Along with service in the UMC, Bridgeforth began work as a course instructor at the University of La Verne’s Ecumenical Center for Black Church Studies in 2003. In 2016, he was named director of academic programs and outreach.
Bridgeforth is the founder of 20/20 Leadership Lessons, Inc. Through 20/20 Leadership Lessons, he provides coaching for clergy and non-profit leaders and consultations for nonprofit leaders, organizations, and their boards on policies, structures, and behaviors that lead to vitality and efficiency.
A native of Decatur, Ala., Bridgeforth is a U.S. Air Force veteran who earned a bachelor’s degree in religion from Samford University, a master of divinity degree from the Claremont School of Theology (CST), and an educational doctorate in organizational leadership from Pepperdine University. He is the author of “Alabama Grandson: A Black, Gay Minister’s Passage Out of Hiding,” “Thoughts and Prayers,” and “20/20 Leadership Lessons: Seeing Visions and Focusing on Reality.”
Along with appointments to local church contexts, he also worked at his alma mater CST, as an admissions counselor and as director of alumni and church relations.
Bridgeforth is a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.; a Harry Hoosier member of BMCR; International Coaching Federation; Methodist Museum for Social Justice; spiritual advisor for Strength for the Journey HIV Camp; and participant with L.A. Veterans Collaborative and U.S. Vets.
Bridgeforth is married to Christopher Hucks-Ortiz, a public health and research professional with demonstrated leadership in the U.S. domestic and global field of infectious disease focused on HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, STIs, and Hepatitis prevention and intervention. He has successfully secured public funds to support research and health programs targeting key vulnerable populations. They reside in Los Angeles.