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Rev. Bernard mulls mayoral run

Bevan Springer | 1/10/2013, 2:58 p.m.
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NEW YORK (Jan. 10)--Could the next mayor of New York City be an African-American preacher with Caribbean roots? This question has reverberated around sections of the city following the revelation over the weekend that the influential Rev. A.R. Bernard, of the huge Christian Cultural Center church ministry, is contemplating a run for the city's chief executive. According to published reports, the state Republican chairman is urging the Brooklyn shepherd of a 35,000-strong flock to think deeply about campaigning for New York City's top job.

"I'm not driven by political ambitions. It would be motivated by my love and concern for this city. I have 35,000 members who will be impacted by whatever happens," said the reverend.

His ministry reaches far beyond New York City and embraces followers of the gospel as well as community, business and political leaders across the planet, from Singapore to South Africa.

In spite of Bernard's Republican Party affiliation, he has been a vocal supporter of President Barack Obama. Hundreds of thousands of African-Americans and Caribbean-Americans could shed their loyalty to the Democratic Party and support the popular spiritual leader who once followed Islam before taking up the cross of Christ.

A former New York City banker with Caribbean and Central American roots, Bernard is president of the Council of Churches of the city of New York, representing 1.5 million Protestants, Anglicans and Orthodox Christians. He was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Consul General of Israel in New York.

In November 1979, Bernard left the corporate world to pursue full-time ministry. What started as a small storefront church in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, blossomed into a "mega church" that sits on an 11.5-acre campus in the Spring Creek section of Brooklyn. Bernard holds a Master of Urban Studies and a Master of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary as well as an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Nyack College/Alliance Theological Seminary and Doctor of Letters from Wagner College. He has served on a number of New York City boards and was a member of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's 2001 transition team.