Bishop Cecil Bishop was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Knoxville College in Knoxville, Tennessee, and then attended Hood Theological Seminary, Howard University School of Religion, and Wesley Theological Seminary. Bishop worked briefly at a church in Rockville, Maryland, before coming to Greensboro in 1960 to serve as pastor of the Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church. During the sit-ins of the 1960s, he worked to bridge the generational divide between adults and students of the African American community to desegregate local businesses. In 1965, he was appointed to the Human Relations Commission, which he chaired for a number of years. During this same time, he served on many local organizations in various capacities, including the Greensboro Housing Authority, Greensboro Men’s Club, Greensboro NAACP chapter, Pulpit Forum, and Greensboro Citizens Association.
Bishop left Greensboro in 1975 and moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he became the minister of the Grace African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1980, he was elevated to bishop in the African Methodist Church, and during this time he served as the president of the North Carolina Council of Churches. In 2005, he retired from the Grace AME Church and he became a Senior Presiding Prelate of the AME Zion Church. Currently, he is involved with many organizations, among them Livingstone College, where he serves as chair of the Board of Trustees, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, where he serves as senior bishop, and Piedmont Episcopal District, where he serves as bishop.