Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity has chosen Bishop Audrey Bronson as the first female president in the organization's 25-year history.

Bronson, pastor of the Sanctuary Church of the Open Door in West Philadelphia, will complete the term of the current president, the Rev. Ellis I. Washington, who has been reassigned to Boston by the African Methodist Epicopal Church.

At a news conference today at the Vine Memorial Baptist Church in West Philadelphia, where Black Clergy was founded, Bronson pledged to continue the group's work to "help the downtrodden" and those "pushed aside."

She said she expected the organization under her leadership to continue searching for ways to reduce urban violence and opposing slots casinos in Philadelphia.

Contact staff writer David O'Reilly at 215-854-5723 or doreilly@phillynews.com.