The Right Reverend T. Larry Kirkland - Chair, Commission on Publications
The Reverend Dr. Johnny Barbour, Jr., Publisher
The Reverend Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III, the 20th Editor, The Christian Recorder

Pentecost Sunday, May 24, 2015

May is Stroke Awareness Month

Thought for the week: "Most worries are like puddles, by tomorrow they will have evaporated."


Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III
The 20th Editor of The Christian Recorder

I had some grandiose ideas and some unrealistic thoughts when I responded to my “call to ministry.” I had the notion that preaching was the key to ministry and I was going to be the most dynamic preacher possible and when I got my own church, the people were going to flock to my church in large numbers because I was going to “feed the flock.” 

I had the notion that superb preaching would fill a sanctuary. As a matter of fact, when I thought about the ministry, preaching came to my mind.  And with my immaturity, I didn’t distinguish the difference when I heard different parishioners say, “The pastor is a good preacher” and “Our pastor is an outstanding pastor.” I heard both statements as being synonymous meaning the preachers were good preachers, proclaimers of the Word.  It never occurred to me that the parishioners were making a distinction between a preacher and a pastor.

The other thing that clouded the distinction was the explanation I heard about sermon preparation. The comment I heard was, “Sermon preparation required a hour for each minute of sermon delivery,” which meant if a preacher delivered a 20 minute sermon, the expectation was the he or she spent 20 hours working on the sermon. A preacher who delivered a 40 minute sermon would have spent the entire work week working on his or her sermon, which would not have left time for the pastor to do anything else, like visiting the sick and shut-in parishioners, teaching Bible study or any of the other ministerial functions.

The “One hour preparation for each minute’s delivery” led to the joke or notion that preachers only worked for 20 minutes. The subtle punch line of the joke was that no one believed the delivery of the 20-minute sermon was the result of 20 hours preparation.

Not naïve for long

It didn’t take me long in the pastorate to understand that pastoring was a lot more than preaching. Admittedly, I quickly understood that preaching was the gateway to my ministry.  The sermon was the one thing all of the parishioners could see. They could also see my skills as a worship leader and a few, those who attended Bible Study, could see my skills as a teacher. And even fewer numbers could witness my abilities as a pastoral counselor. But by and large, the delivery of sermon was the one thing all of the parishioners could observe, so preaching was important.

Preaching takes a lot of work

I learned the importance of preaching in my first pastorate. I quickly discovered why the space where the pastor was expected to prepare his or her sermon was called a “study.” Sermon preparation and outstanding delivery of a sermon take a lot of study. 

Sermon preparation for the first month or so of my ministry was pretty much routine, but after about three months, I “ran up against a wall.”  I had exhausted all of the clichés and had preached my favorite texts. It was then that I discovered that sermon preparation was work. I also discovered the conflict and the reality that I didn’t have time to spend the entire week working on a sermon.

Visiting the sick and shut-in members took a lot of time. And often, visiting the sick sometimes turned into counseling sessions and what I thought was going to be a quick visit turned into an extended visit.

My first pastorate in Paris, Kentucky was a small town with a small hospital. The serious medical cases had to be taken to Lexington, 17 miles away. A visit to a sick parishioner taken to a hospital in Lexington took a big chunk out of the day. It turned out that each visit to sick and shut-in members took more time than it took to deliver a sermon.  

Several weeks after settling in the parsonage, there was a knock at the door and standing on the porch was a gentleman and his wife and a young woman and a young man.  I invited them in and the gentleman quickly said, “Reverend, I haven’t had a chance to meet you yet and I am sorry to meet you under these circumstances. My daughter and this young man need to get married and they need to get married tonight.”  I looked at the couple and they shook their heads affirmatively and I could tell that we were in a serious situation. I don’t think that we have similar situations today, but then they were called “shotgun weddings.”  The gentleman didn’t have shotgun in his possession, but there could have been one in the trunk of his car. That was my first wedding and it was an unplanned event in the life of my pastoral ministry. Unplanned events happen in ministry.

Several weeks after that, a parishioner died and I had to prepare for my first funeral. I had never done a funeral and if truth be told, at that point I had not attended many funerals. My paternal grandmother died while I was in college and that was about the extent of my funeral experience. I was being “baptized” in the pastoral ministry and precipitously learned that the pastorate was more than preaching a sermon on Sunday. Sometimes a sermon had to be prepared on short notice during the week.

Pretty soon my days were being filled with all kinds of ministerial functions that I hadn’t thought of, e.g., ministerial meetings, meetings with city and county officials, visits to the jail and to the prison (a long drive) if members were incarcerated, and making routine repairs to the church and the parsonage.  And “in the day” church members consulted the pastor when making significant decisions. Pretty soon the Sundays were “running into each other.”  And in my case seminary classes added to the stresses of ministry and “crunch of time.” 

I often thought of how nice it would have been if all I had to do was preach. And, if that were the case, perhaps it would have allowed me to spend an hour for each minute of preparation.

I can just imagine the inner conflict and time-crunch for those pastors who are in bivocational ministry. The term “bivocational ministry” just might be an oxymoron.

I quickly discovered that pastoring was a lot more than preaching because pastoring is intimately connected to building relationships. And as I have said time and again, “Building relationships is time-consuming.”

And now more than 50 years in the ministry, I am convinced that ministry is more than preaching. Preaching is important, but there is much more to the profession than preaching if a pastor does ministry as it ought to be done.

And sometimes…

I am somewhat disappointed when I hear preachers discuss pastoring in terms of preaching. I have noticed one of the largest areas of concentration in some doctor of ministry degree programs is preaching. I have a suspicion and am concerned that our focus on preaching might be at the expense of other areas of the pastoral ministry.

Back in the day, we talked a lot about preaching, but the conversations always seemed to gravitate to the problem areas of ministry, e.g., how to resolve conflict, strategies for increasing revenue, issues with the choir, how to motivate parishioners to participate in the life of the church and other issues related to the pastoral ministry. 

I suspect some have narrowed the profession of ministry and the result is church members have a narrow focus of ministry and think their pastor’s only responsibility is preaching. With the narrow focus of ministry, pastoral compensation becomes more narrowly-focused. In many parishioners’ minds, the pastor is getting paid to preach, especially if a pastor is bivocational or doesn’t have a ministry of presence. The “narrow-focused” view of ministry is justification for paying a pastor less.

Whoever says preaching is the primary focus of ministry has sadly narrowed the perspective and profession of ministry. I am certain that a number of parishioners who take the narrow view of ministry as preaching are more likely to be more undisciplined in attendance and have little problem missing worship from time to time, stay home and view the preaching of televangelists and check out some of the television gospel programs.

A pastor's primary role is to provide pastoral oversight of his or her pastoral charge. Pastoral oversight includes preaching, but much more. I am certain that some churches are failing because some pastors function as if preaching is their only requirement. Local churches need pastors who are administrators, teachers, pastoral counselors who will visit the sick and shut-in members and be shepherds to God's people and to the world.

On a recent FaceBook post, the Rev. Sayaunda L. Casey cautioned against a narrow preaching-focused ministry versus an all-inclusive pastoral ministry stating “We are raising a generation of individuals who seek Sunday morning fixes to their lives when transformation is a daily commitment” and went on to write, “Congregants must understand the importance of daily mental work and the church must lead them in that process… [through a well rounded ministry].

And the narrow focus of ministry has some pastors so enamored on music and preaching that they have neglected their other pastoral responsibilities, and the result is that church ministry suffers. 

The Discipline

The Doctrine and Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Church 2012 beginning on Page 91 lists the responsibilities of the Itinerant ministry. Preaching, as it should be, is the first entry and it has 12 areas of responsibilities related to the pastoral ministry.

Under the Responsibilities of the pastoral ministry beginning on Page 92, The Discipline lists 30 areas of responsibilities.

The Rules of the Itinerant ministry are addressed on Pages 95 - 99. If pastors of any denomination followed the rules of The Doctrine and Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the pastoral ministry would be off to a good start.

The Bible

The Bible also gives us clues about effective pastoral ministry.  Jesus spent a lot of time addressing pastoral leadership in terms of shepherding.

A shepherd leads, feeds, nurtures, comforts, corrects, and protects the flock. Jesus mentions the compassionate shepherd whom the sheep know (respect) - because of his or her care of the flock.

Shepherds have to speak to the flock to help guide them in safe passage. Shepherds have to comfort and correct and that is done through preaching. Pastors have to feed the flock and that is done through Holy Communion. Pastors have to lead, nurture, and protect the flock and that is done through the pastoral functions of ministry. It is no accident that the word "pastor" means "shepherd."

Ministry is a well-rounded profession and pastors and parishioners would do well to focus upon the full scope of the ministry rather than on one portion of the ministry.

The Apostle Peter also addressed the profession of ministry, "Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away" (1 Peter 5:2-4). Peter challenged his fellow elders to "shepherd the flock of God among you" by "exercising oversight" and that requires pastors to do more than preach. 

The epistle of Titus is clear about pastoral relationships. Paul's charge to Timothy, the other preachers who accompanied him in ministry and to the various churches underscored his understanding of the all-encompassing nature of the pastoral ministry; it was not limited to preaching.

An important aspect of ministry is reciprocity in that pastors expect their parishioners to be obedient to their pastoral oversight and likewise pastors need to be obedient to the authorities (Read presiding elders and bishops) over them. 

In sum, pastors are responsible to the church for proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, leading and guiding spiritual worship, administering the Sacraments, using his or her skills in administrative leadership, and engaging in pastoral care ministries to meet the needs of persons in the church, to include visiting the sick and shut-in members and to be the “shepherd of the flock.”


-- To the he Editor:

RE: TCR Editorial – A Problem or a Condition – There’s a Difference:

Thank so much for the article with the title above.

In most of our overseas districts we are experiencing conditions, not problems.

This includes the following: Economic conditions, political conditions, and
social conditions. We have conditions, not problems in Africa.
I personally agree that conditions are not as easy to solve as problems.

Conditions need planning first before trying to solve or work on them. Problems, in most cases are human-created whereas, conditions are some time created by natural forces and time is needed to work on them.

The Rev. Willard Machiwenyika

-- To the Editor:

Re: Thank you request for information

My name is Chrispine Samuneti. I am a full member of African Methodist Episcopal Church. I live in the 17th Episcopal District, North Western Zambia where the Rt. Rev. Messiah is our beloved Bishop. Kindly note that I am very grateful to inform you that you are keeping me in the same loop by giving me updates over what's going on in the AME Church around the world.  

Finally, I am requesting that you send me the whole list of programmes in our Church i.e., schedules from 1st to last month of the year.

I will appreciate your action taken.

God bless you and kind regards, 

Brother Chrispine Samuneti

TCR Editor’s Note: The AME Church Website is the best place to find information about what is happening in the African Methodist Episcopal church: http://www.ame-church.com/; Click here for all of the AME Links: AME LINKS


-- Hood Theological Seminary confers D.H.L. Degree to AME Bishop

On Saturday May 15, 2015 Bishop William P DeVeaux was awarded a Bishop William P. DeVeaux, Presiding Prelate of the 2nd Episcopal District of the AME Church had conferred upon him the Doctor of Humane Letters from Hood Theological Seminary an AME Zion institution located in Salisbury, North Carolina. He was honored for his academic achievements and the impact he has made on the church community.

-- Monrovia College, Monrovia, Liberia

Good news from Liberia - Monrovia College - Out of 21 high school students selected for aptitude testing; a Monrovia College senior student, McArthur Toe had the highest average of the final 4 Liberian students awarded scholarships to the Robert Bosch Campus of the United World Colleges. He will go to Germany to attend college.

*Submitted by the Rev. Dr. Katurah York Cooper, Pastor/Founder Empowerment Temple AME Church and Vice President, Academic Affairs at AME University in Monrovia, Liberia

-- Wilberforce University confers honorary doctorate of humane letters

In recent commencement ceremonies, Wilberforce University President Algeania Warren Freeman conferred an honorary doctorate of humane letters to Xenia mayor…


The AME luncheon at the Hampton Ministers Conference will be held on Wednesday June 10, 2015 at Noon at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 700 Settlers Landing Road Hampton, VA 23669.

The Cost of the Luncheon is $25.00 and the luncheon is always a great time of fellowship. 

If you need further information call Bethel AME Church (757) 723-4065


It is not strange that there would be a strong tie between the oldest free-standing Black denomination in the United States and the oldest historically Black sorority.  AKA founder Ethel Hedgeman Lyle was a lifelong member of the AME Church.  Additionally at least seven International Presidents have been active members of the AME Church including the most recent two:  Carolyn House Stewart and Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson.*  In late February, President Buckhanan Wilson agreed to share her experiences and insights with The Christian Recorder via a telephone interview.  She has an accomplished career in marketing and is currently a Senior Vice-President at Goodwill Industries where she runs the mission programs funded by the retail stores in the Milwaukee and Chicago area.    Buckhanan Wilson has two adult children.  She resides in Milwaukee and is a member of St. Mark AME Church where the Rev. Dr. Darryl Williams is the pastor.

- Could you please share how you became involved with the AME Church?

I grew up in Sumter South Carolina, a small town 45 miles from Columbia, South Carolina.  I was born into the AME family.  My grandparents were one of the original families at Beulah AME Church in Mayesville, S.C. My grandfather, who raised me was very active and an officer in the church.  
Over 90% of our family members are members of the AME Church. So, when I moved to Milwaukee, it wasn’t a matter of which church I would join.  It was going to be an AME Church. I joined the church [St. Mark] in 1985 and have been a member since that time.  I really enjoy what this faith stands for.  Further, for me this is personal, my membership is in honor of my grandparents.  I will always stay because of their love and my love for it.  Through the years, we have lost a few family members to other denominations, just like other families we know, however, for most Wilsons; our AME faith is as steady as a rock.

- How has your involvement with the AME Church influenced your professional life?

I’m affiliated with a number of organizations focused on service including The Links, Top Ladies of Distinction, and of course Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. There is a strong AME presence in the sorority and in these organizations.  We all talk about our involvement and it goes back to the church.  [My family] lived in a small town and our lives pretty much revolved around the church.  We attended church on Sunday and then spent several nights during the week supporting the other activities and work of the church. My interest in speaking and being involved in leadership all evolved in the church.  I also learned humility and about servant leadership from my grandfather through his work in the church. I vividly remember my grandfather stating “Don’t ask people for the opportunity to serve them if you don’t plan on doing it well.” That lesson stayed with me.  So, the AME Church was and has been very pivotal in my growth and development.  Specifically, I learned lessons in humility and how to serve others in my community.

- Could you please share with us some of the work you have done as the International President of AKA?

My interest in AKA came early. I joined the sorority at Benedict College (Psi Chapter) and have been active for 37 years.  [Upon taking office], the first thing I wanted to do was to reflect to the members of the organization my deep faith.  We had a spiritual send celebration off at St Mark and we opened up the service to persons from across the Midwest region to come and worship together for the vibrancy of this role.  We had about 1200 members in attendance, including many AMEs.

The theme for the sorority over the next four years is “Launching New Dimensions of Service.   We will lead with our signature ASCEND youth enrichment program.  It focuses on 20,000 high school students that we will work over a four-year period to prepare them for college or the world of work.  Our other programs include the AKA 1908 Playgrounds Project, where we will provide environments to keep our kids safe by restoring, refreshing and renewing 1,908 playgrounds nationwide.

Our global programming efforts include working with Africare to address childhood hunger on the continent of Africa.  We also plan to expose our children to the work of the United Nation through the UN Global Classrooms project.

In other words, Alpha Kappa Alpha members are using our collective impact to continue to shape history through our programs.   Our sorority engages in meaningful high impact activities. We do things that are worthwhile and that is why we feel the way we do about our organization and our history.  Our Story is the American Story. 

- President Buckhanan Wilson, earlier this year VH-1 debuted a show called Sorority Sisters.  It has provoked a backlash and as of our interview there are calls from various Black Greek-Lettered Organizations (BGLOs) for its cancellation.  What are your thoughts?

What was distressing about the Sorority Sisters show is the thought that someone could come in and attempt to capriciously rewrite our history.  Just like our churches, [BGLOs] have been a positive part of our communities for over a century. These groups have done more to help elevate the African-American population than many groups out there.  So any attempt to make a mockery of our contributions and the role we have historically played to uplift our race, was certainly not going to be tolerated.  Yes, our BGLOs have a light-hearted side as evidenced by our step shows; however the majority of our efforts are focused on providing service to our communities.

Of our 983 chapter over 90% of our members are graduate members. When you look at that amount of volunteer power in the community working with our people and that piece not even mentioned on this show that was a problem for many of our members across all sororities. So the sororities worked together to target advertisers and the show has since been taken off the air by VH1.

- After the decision to not indict in the Darren Wilson case, Alpha Kappa Alpha prohibited its members from wearing the sorority’s paraphernalia in the protests.  Would you care to comment on this decision as well as its eventual reversal?

We encourage BlackLivesMatter and all levels of social activism and social justice.   Again that is a part of our history and has been since our existence.  Currently we have a social justice program that focuses on ACTION.  We have our “AKA Days at the state capital in over 30 locations over a 60 day period.  This year our platform is criminal justice system reform, particularly in the area of law enforcement.   And as always we are encouraging members nationwide to register citizens to vote and intensify our efforts so we can affect needed change.

Because we have the responsibility as leaders to manage organizational risk, we did initially provide guidelines around the protests, which included attire, for our members.  In response to member concerns we re-evaluated our position and reversed the decision.  It’s always okay to shift a position.  We did this quickly so the focus could continue to be on those who had lost their lives and the need for reform in our criminal justice system.  Alpha Kappa Alpha has always understood that it is not our role to be the story, but to drive needed changes through social justice and advocacy.

- What are some of the challenges that you see facing institutions of the Black community such as BGLOs and the Church?

BGLOs and the church remain vibrant contributors to society and to our communities.     Basically we’re figuring out what our members need, what our members want, how to remain relevant and how we must meet the needs of our communities. There are a lot more options now for community involvement and younger people today want to be part of a cause, to make a difference and to see immediate [change].   We have to be willing to change with the times and reinvent ourselves in some cases.   The AME and BGLO legacy of perseverance and overcoming must continue to be reinforced with the current and future generations.  We must show that there is room for all generations to coexist and to be productive within our respective organizations.  As we continue to do that, then we are ensuring our perpetuity.

*This information comes from the blog of Presiding Elder Anne Henning-Byfield  https://annehenningbyfield.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/happy-aka-founders-day/  Additionally, AKA is the only Sorority to have its members elected as Bishops in the four major United States Methodist denominations: UMC—Bishop Leontine T.C. Kelly; AME—Bishop Sarah Frances Taylor Davis; AME Zion—Bishop Mildred “Bonnie” Hines; CME—Bishop Teresa Snorton

*John Thomas III (13th District) is a member of the General Board and PhD candidate at the University of Chicago.


The Reverend Alvelyn Sanders

Did you hear it? If you listened closely, shouts of rejoicing could be heard from the 9th Episcopal District across the African Methodist Episcopal connection from Boston to Botswana, from Louisville to Los Angeles, from Detroit to the Dominican Republic as hundreds of AMEs journeyed from the four corners of the state of Alabama for the Formal Dedication and Cornerstone Laying at the Daniel Payne Community Plaza in Birmingham, Alabama.

The celebration occurred during the four-day 9th Episcopal District’s Mid-Winter Conference, “Celebrating the AME Difference: Connecting Christ, Church, and Community,” April 15-18, 2015. Any time God’s people gather to conduct the business of the church and worship God is a celebration, but in this case the jubilation and praise reached an even higher decibel because of the sheer magnitude of what the Plaza symbolizes for the people of Alabama and the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  It was an amazing celebration of the power of the God-given-vision bestowed upon Servant Bishop James L. Davis and brought to life by the people of the 9th Episcopal District who dared to trust God with their resources – their money – to claim and possess the land for God’s glory. The Plaza is a shining example of how the AME Church makes a difference by using its human and financial resources, and by following the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Plaza and its extraordinary renovations represent $ 4.7 million in contributions from just 1,116 donors whose individual donations ranged from 87 cents to $32,000 spanning a fundraising campaign that started in 2010.

“You did this,” exclaimed Bishop Davis to the standing-room-only audience at the Friday evening event, “A Soiree of Elegance.” Bishop Davis and Episcopal Supervisor Arelis B. Davis expressed their heartfelt gratitude to the people of the 9th Episcopal District for being a part of the vision and for taking the reins and making the vision come to life. The original goal was to raise $1 million. Yet, clergy, lay, and friends far exceeded that goal – four times over. Even on that night, the Board of Trustees of the Daniel Payne College Legacy Village, presented a check to the 9th Episcopal District for $538,477.93 as a result of the sale of the most recent 9th District headquarters in downtown Birmingham – a sale at an amount almost doubling the original purchase price.

The Daniel Payne Community Plaza, the former Daniel Payne Middle School, is a 60,000 sq. ft. building located on nineteen acres of land. The property was purchased by the Daniel Payne Foundation of the 9th Episcopal District in August 2014 as a $2.5 million cash-sale. This property plus the 153 acres owned by Daniel Payne College, Inc. just across the street from the Plaza makes the AME Church one of the largest landowners as an African American institution in the state of Alabama. The Plaza is named for the sixth Bishop of the AME Church, Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne, who was one of the founders and former presidents of Wilberforce University in Ohio as well. Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio is also named after Bishop Payne

The Mid-Winter Conference in total was a proud moment in the life of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Attendees were able to witness the versatility of the complex and the enormous capacity for the building to be used as a tool for ministry. In just four days, the Plaza was the site of Conference business sessions and workshops; spirit-filled worship services, an elegant, catered, seated dinner for 800 people and a basketball tournament featuring youth teams from the ten Presiding Elder Districts of the 9th Episcopal District.

Guests were treated to a guided tour of the facility, a special reception to celebrate the formal dedication and lunch was served daily. Additionally, the Daniel Payne Community Plaza boasts a lush landscape with plenty of space for outdoor events as well.

The Conference would not have been successful without the blessings of God, the leadership of Bishop James L. Davis, the presiding elders and the dedicated planning-team and host churches who were responsible for significant logistical tasks and the quick-turnaround of spaces used for multiple purposes.

Mrs. Juanda Maxwell (Montgomery-Selma District) served as the Chair of the DPCP Dedication Celebration Committee. The host pastors and churches were: The Reverend Sheila Williams, St. Mark AME, Dora; the Reverend Vernita O. Farness, Allen Chapel AME, Woodlawn; and the Reverend Gloria Patrick, St. Mark AME in Mason City.

Approximately 4,000 people attended the Mid-Winter Conference over the four-day period.

The Daniel Payne Community Plaza is located at 1500 Daniel Payne Drive in Birmingham, Alabama. Please call (205) 326-4499 to book events.

Highlights of the Mid-Winter Conference - Thursday, April 16, 2015:

-- 9:45 a.m. Workshop: Differently and Distinctly African Methodists, featuring ethicist and scholar, the Rev. Dr. Monica Coleman, Associate Professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religions, Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, California, and an Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Dr. Coleman presented a compelling look at the AME Church historically while analyzing our present strengths and opportunities for enhancement. She implored clergy and laity: “Don’t just preach Jesus, be Jesus!”

-- 3:00 p.m. Formal Dedication and Laying of the Cornerstone Worship Service. Presiding: The Reverend Dwight E. Dillard, Sr., Vice Chair of the Daniel Payne College Legacy Village Foundation, Inc., Board of Trustee member and Presiding Elder of the Birmingham-Florence-Tuscaloosa District.

-- Unveiling of the Specially Named Spaces in the Daniel Payne Community Plaza:

The Harris-Todd Building named for the Reverend Dr. Jerome V. Harris and the late Reverend Dr. Anderson Todd.

Spaces Named In Memoriam:
The Reverend Dr. Samuel Matthew Davis Episcopal Suite
The Bishop Cornelius Egbert Thomas Executive Dining Room
Dr. Hattie Bryant Whit Greene Library
Mrs. Donnell Banks Anderson Room
Mr. Thomas E. Greene Room
Mrs. Theopolis Dickerson Fields Peters Room

-- 7:00 p.m. Founders Day Worship Service:

Guest Preacher: Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, Presiding Prelate of the 10th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Bishop McKenzie “preached down the house” to a capacity-filled worship space! “Yeah, He did it and now, do it again!” was the subject of the Spirit-filled message encouraging the congregation to possess a “can-do” mind! Text: Joshua 15: 13-14. Bishop McKenzie asked, “What’s holding you back from the promises of God?” She was joined by a significant delegation of clergy from the state of Texas who were on-hand for the worship service.

-- Friday, April 17, 2015 -11:45 a.m. Opening Worship Service:

Guest Preacher: Retired Bishop Philip R. Cousin, Sr. Bishop Cousin enjoyed a special “homecoming” to the initial episcopal district where he was assigned after his election and consecration in 1976. He marveled at the Daniel Payne Community Plaza and shared with the people of the 9th Episcopal District that there is “no other place” in the Connection that can compare to the Plaza in Birmingham. Using the subject, “Don’t Forget the Bones” (Text: Genesis 50: 24-25; Exodus 13:19), Bishop Cousin reminded the Conference to honor, cherish, and preserve the legacy that has been created with the Daniel Payne Community Plaza.

- 6:30 p.m. A Soiree of Elegance:

Guest Speaker: Dr. Jamye Coleman Williams, retired General Officer of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. What a fabulous affair for such an auspicious occasion! AMEs arrived in their finest attire and the gymnasium was transformed to an elegantly catered, seated dinner for 800 people. Dr. Williams shared her priceless wisdom on the value of the AME legacy and guests were inspired by the soul-stirring vocals of Mrs. L’Tanya Moore Campbell. It was an evening of beauty, joy, and thanksgiving!

-- Saturday, April 18, 2015 - 10:00 a.m. Basketball Tournament

Youth Teams from the 10 Presiding Elder Districts of the 9th Episcopal District participated in a fun, exciting, and highly competitive basketball tournament! There were a few brave adults who took to the court for a chance at victory, too! The gym was alive with great enthusiasm, cheering, and even some boasting and healthy bragging on "b-ball skills!" A winner was not declared. The finals for the basketball tournament will be played during the Summer Meeting/Christian Education Congress, which takes place June 22-24, 2015 on the campus of Troy University in Troy, Alabama. Winners will be determined at that time. That means more basketball to come!


-- Ashby, chair of chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill, will oversee Duke’s core academic units

Durham, NC - Valerie Sheares Ashby, a professor and chair of the chemistry department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH), will be the next dean of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences at Duke University beginning July 1, Duke President Richard H. Brodhead and Provost Sally Kornbluth announced Thursday.

Dr. Valerie Sheares Ashby is the daughter of the late Rev. James N. Sheares, former pastor and Presiding Elder of the Western North Carolina Conference and Shirley Sheares, a Life Member in the Women's Missionary Society and former Second District WMS president. Dr. Sheares Ashby was an active YPDer and served on the Episcopal Committee.

Ashby will oversee the university's core academic units, which offer courses and degrees across the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.  She succeeds Laurie Patton, who will be the new president of Middlebury.

“Valerie Ashby is a distinguished professor of chemistry who has shown extraordinary aptitude for academic leadership,” Brodhead said. “Warm, thoughtful and a creative problem solver, she has high respect for inquiry and teaching across the span of the Arts & Sciences, and she will represent Duke’s academic vision to students, faculty and outside audiences in a compelling fashion. I am delighted to welcome her to Duke.”

Ashby joined the UNC-CH faculty in 2003 after serving as a faculty member at Iowa State University since 1995. She was named Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term Professor of Chemistry in 2007, when she also began serving as the director of the UNC National Science Foundation Alliance for Graduate Education Professoriate and Research Education Support programs. In 2012, she became chair of the chemistry department. A native of North Carolina who grew up in Clayton, Ashby earned her Bachelor of Arts degree (1988) and Ph.D. (1994) in chemistry from UNC-CH.

"I could not be more excited to welcome Valerie Ashby to Duke.  She is a gifted teacher, a distinguished researcher and a talented academic leader who understands the essential role of a liberal arts college within a research university,” Kornbluth said. “Her commitment to a broad and diverse education for our students, and to identifying and nurturing an excellent faculty, is evident to all who have followed her career.  I look forward to her engagement across Duke."

Ashby’s research is in the area of synthetic polymer chemistry with a focus on designing and synthesizing materials for biomedical applications such as X-ray contrast agents and drug delivery materials. She has numerous publications and holds eight patents. In 2010, Ashby was named a National Science Foundation American Competitiveness and Innovation Fellow and an honorary member of the Tau Sigma Honor Society. She has received multiple other honors from her peers, including the distinguished Order of the Golden Fleece (2012) and the UNC General Alumni Association Faculty Service Award (2013).

Ashby was nominated by a Duke search committee that included faculty members, students, trustees and administrators and was chaired by Angela O’Rand, professor of sociology and former dean of social sciences. “The search committee was enthusiastic and unanimous in its support for Valerie Ashby,” O’Rand said. “We saw many extraordinary candidates, but Professor Ashby stood out as without peer and with the complement of scholarship, experience and vision that will serve Duke well at this time."

Known as an outstanding teacher, Ashby received the Carlyle Sitterson Freshman Teaching Award (2008), the UNC-CH Student Undergraduate Teaching Award (2009) and the Johnston Teaching Award (2013).  She previously received several teaching awards at Iowa State.

Ashby also has a passion for increasing diversity in higher education and creating and expanding pathways for underrepresented minority students to access educational opportunities that allow them to reach their full potential. She is a national consultant and adviser to National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health diversity programs, and has mentored numerous undergraduate and graduate students in varying disciplines. Since 2014, she has served as faculty director for the Initiative for Minority Excellence at the UNC Chapel Hill Graduate School.

“I am honored to be selected to be the dean of the Trinity School of Arts & Sciences,” Ashby said. “Duke is one of the finest institutions in the world, known for academic excellence, interdisciplinary collaboration and knowledge in service to society. I look forward to the opportunities to work collaboratively with the outstanding students, faculty and staff that comprise the Duke community.”


On Friday, May 22nd, Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), will deliver the Commencement address at Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio. Brooks will also receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

Only a year into his appointment as the 18th President and CEO of the NAACP, Mr. Brooks successfully led a 134 mile multi-generational, multiracial and multi-faith march, titled Journey for Justice, from Michael Brown’s home in Ferguson to the Governor’s Mansion in Jefferson City in pursuit of criminal justice reform.  The march led to a meeting with the Governor of Missouri and continued discussions on policy reform as it relates to racial profiling and policing in the state of Missouri. Under Mr. Brooks’ Administration, Congress also passed the Death in Custody Reporting Act, which will require states to report to the U.S. Department of Justice information on every instance in which a person dies while in the custody of a law enforcement official.

Prior to leading the NAACP, President Brooks led the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice where he directed the Institute’s successful efforts to win the passage of three landmark prisoner reentry bills in 2010, hailed by The New York Times as, “a model for the rest of the nation.” He has also served as Executive Director of the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington, Vice-Chair of the New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority, and Second Vice-Chair of the East Orange General Hospital Board of Trustees.

A longtime lawyer and civil rights activist, Mr. Brooks holds a JD from Yale University, a Master of Divinity degree from the Boston University School of Theology where he focused in social ethics and systematic theology and a BA in political science, with honors, from Jackson State University.

When: Friday, May 22, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. ET

Where: Wilberforce University Alumni Multiplex, 1055 North Bickett Road,
Wilberforce, OH 45384


The Rev. Stephanie Raglin, assistant director for the Hope Center Recovery Program for Women, has been presented with the Impact Award for Fayette County by the Bluegrass Alliance for Women. Raglin serves as director of the Hope Recovery Program at the Fayette County Detention Center, where she works with the Department of Corrections to help troubled female inmates.

The Rev. Raglin is also the pastor of Shorter Chapel AME Church in Paris, Kentucky. 

Raglin's nominator describes her as a staunch advocate for the personal growth and well-being of girls and women in Fayette County. The Impact Award is presented annually by BAW to recognize women in Central Kentucky who are working to improve the lives of women and children.

At the recovery center, Raglin leads the Peer Mentoring Program, which teaches women how to maintain gainful employment as well as encourages them to reach for educational opportunities and explore other career options for their future. The goal for these women is to transition back into society as responsible, productive citizens.


-- Dr Ulysses Burley III is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

US President Barack Obama has named Dr Ulysses Burley III to a presidential advisory panel on HIV and AIDS.

One of a new generation of World Council of Churches (WCC) leaders, Burley is one of the youngest appointees to the   Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) in the United States.

Aged 32, he is a medical doctor, a Clinical Research Associate at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a lay preacher in the WCC member church the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), advising on HIV and AIDS and a regular blogger on the site called the Salt Collective.
“We celebrate with him and also remember to lift him up in prayer for his new ministry”, said WCC general secretary, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, who met Burley in Washington, D.C., last week.

PACHA provides advice, information, and recommendations regarding programmes and policies intended to promote effective prevention of HIV and to advance research on HIV and AIDS.

The White House asks PACHA to provide recommendations on how to effectively implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, as well as monitor the strategy's implementation.

Burley serves on the WCC gender advisory group and is a member of the WCC’s executive committee and its central committee, the main governing body of the council.

Burley was elected as a central committee member at the WCC's 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea, in November 2013.

During his training as a medical doctor, Burley completed some of his studies in South America.

Burley began working with HIV and AIDS patients, and says that his work strengthened his ties to his own faith tradition and to ecumenical work.

The claim comes after what the FBI says has been nearly a decade of federal law enforcement’s confirmed and documented acts of infiltration by white supremacist groups into American police departments.

By S. Wooten and M. David for Counter Current News | May 19, 2015

Many have said it for years, but now the Federal Bureau of Investigation is claiming that police departments have been deliberately infiltrated by racist, white supremacist organizations.

The claim comes after what the FBI says has been nearly a decade of federal law enforcement’s confirmed and documented acts of infiltration by white supremacist groups into American police departments.

The FBI warning first came back on October 2006, but it fell on largely deaf ears. Now, the report entitled “White supremacist infiltration of law enforcement” is being revisited by many experts in fighting back against organized hate group terrorism.

In the 2006 report, the FBI found that federal court determined that members of a Los Angeles sheriffs department had organized a Neo Nazi gang. The officers involved did not keep their racist ideas to themselves either, as the FBI found that these same officers “habitually terrorized” the African American community.

The FBI also found that the Chicago police department fired a detective after it was discovered that he had strong ties to the Ku Klux Klan. That detective, Jon Burge, was found to have tortured over 100 African American suspects.

The City of Cleveland, in news lately for their shooting of Tamir Rice, and other extreme instances of police gunning down unarmed African Americans, found that police locker rooms had been overrun with “white power” graffiti and vandalism.

In Texas, a sheriff department found that two of their deputies not only were in the Klan, but were actually prominent recruiters for the hate group.

Now, the just as the FBI had warned, the number of white supremacist members infiltrating law enforcement has soared.

Between the years of 2008 to 2014, that number of documented infiltrators rose from just shy of 150, to one thousand. Even worse is the fact that most of them were never fired after their hate group affiliation was discovered.

If you agree that something needs to be done about this, help us raise awareness and SPREAD THE WORD!

This article was originally published by Counter Current News: http://countercurrentnews.com/  — Copyright © 2015.


*The Rev. Dr. Charles R. Watkins, Jr.

Based on Biblical Text: 1 John 3:18: “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

What John is trying to teach us is really very simple. John is saying clearly if we say we have been transformed by the blood of Christ, the evidence of our transformation should show up in the way we treat our brother and our sister. In other words our life ought to be a demonstration of love and compassion.

God’s message to us, from the beginning has been, “love one another”. However, lamentably what should be our spontaneous love for each other is not so spontaneous. It seems most times love for our brothers and sisters have to be pulled out of us. We have to be constantly reminded that we should be putting the feelings of others ahead of our own.

As a young man graduating from High School I was presented a brand-new bible from the Sunday School Department, and written in the inside cover were the words, “In honor preferring one another” (Romans 12:10). I have always been taught that is an example of how Christians are supposed to live. We are taught God’s rules beginning very early on and we live trying them out. The fact of the matter is life would be so wonderful if there were a lot more trying going on.

God promises that for those of us who really know Him, the reactions and responses rife with selfishness and deceit will be replaced by the reactions and responses of Christ. That is the reality John confronts us with in a few verses prior to our text. John points out that “Whosoever hates his brother is a murderer.” Note - we do not have to pull a gun, or draw knife to be a murderer. All we have to do is look the other way when the Lord is calling us to help someone. 

There is so much talk of the beautiful white robes we will wear when we pass from earth to heaven. I contend that Christ would be even more pleased with our living if those robes were soiled from the labor of helping our brothers and sisters. Knowing we are loved ought to make us be more loving.

John is actually teaching us about agape love. He is teaching us that the unconditional love that God has for us is the same love we ought to express toward each other. It is however, a love that goes against our carnal nature that actually compels us to love only those who love us. Agape love says, “Love your enemies” and “pray for those who despitefully use you”.

Agape love is most often expressed in subtle but effective ways. We find agape love in our challenging moments, when we are called to exhibit an extra ounce of patience toward a difficult child. Agape love is in our sacrificial moments, when we open our fist and share with someone until it hurts. It is also in our vengeful moments, when we have the power to retaliate but we chose not to use it.

The truth of the matter is we cannot know Agape love unless we also know how to forgive. Agape love and forgiveness go hand in hand. In fact they must to go together, because we cannot live in this world without the “hell hounds” nipping at our heels. Satan’s helpers are everywhere, riding the backs of the saved and the unsaved. And if we cannot return hate with love, we will soon be nothing more than a bitter wretch of a man or woman.

John masterfully unravels the truth of our salvation. He reminds us that God expressed His love for us through the gift of Jesus Christ. We respond to that love by loving others. John puts it another way when he writes: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love”.

God must be distressed when a person professes to be a Christian, and they are so unforgiving and un-loving. My prayer is that this writing helps us to understand that salvation and hatred do not mix. The fact of the matter is - salvation and hatred are like oil and water. It is impossible to love Christ and hate our brother and our sister.

As Christians we are validated by the quality of our character. The challenge comes in how we handle life’s abuses? Are we generous and patient? Are we full of resilience and gentleness? Are we loving and forgiving? Can the Lord depend on us to hold our tongue and express His love in deed and truth? Are we a true Christian?

If so we are challenged to show agape love. Christ has forgiven us, we should forgive others. The mercy God has shown us we should show it to others. God’s Word has taught us we are called to teach others. God has been patient with us we must be patient with others. God has blessed us we must bless others.

*The Rev. Dr. Charles R. Watkins, Jr., is the pastor of Morris Brown AME Church in Charleston, S.C.


*Dr. Oveta Fuller


"The Diabetes Health Monitor is an initiative of the AMEC Commission on Health. Copes of the booklet are available to all congregations of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Send email requests to chcamec@gmail.com.  Include numbers of Diabetes Health Monitors requested and a street or P.O. Box address for delivery. Also please include in the email message - name of church, health coordinator, pastor and a phone number of person(s) making the request.

Clear useful information about multiple issues in defeating diabetes also is available from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) by phone (1-800-DIABETES or 1-800 342-2382) or online www.diabetes.org. The ADA resources include frequently seen symptoms, living with diabetes, food and exercise, recipes, diagnosis for pre-diabetes and resources that may be available in areas around your zip code.

While diabetes can run within families, awareness and steps to manage diet and exercise can prevent progression to diabetes. Diabetes and its complications can be defeated. Protective measures to reduce impact and progression are described by Dr. Susan Leath in the spring 2015 issue.

The CDC estimates that African Americans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as non-Hispanic whites. We are more likely to have severe complications such as near-end renal failure and limb amputations.

Let's tackle those things that lead to diabetes so to reduce impacts of this non-infectious disease that is highly prevalent in communities served by the AMEC. We thank the contributors and leaders of the Connectional Health Commission for the timely focus on diabetes to provide a tool that can be used. "

That’s what we’re talking about! You can be made whole in mind, body and spirit.  The church- especially the global African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC), can be a major advocate and resource for wellness. 

The joyous faces of Bishop Gregory Ingram and Dr. Jessica Ingram light up the cover of the spring 2015 issue of Diabetes: Health Monitor. The issue, available now as provided by the AMEC and Connectional Health Commission (CHC), is more than a delightful cover. Inside are pages of sound wisdom, Godly insights and practical tools for preventing or taking control to manage diabetes.

Will you be made whole?

In the recorded healings by Jesus, often he would ask an affected person, “Do you want to be made whole?” In modern day conversation, the question is “Would you like to be well? Do you want to change your situation and condition of physical, mental, emotional or spiritual wellness? What can you do, what are you willing to do to be whole?” The question, from ancient times to now, inquires about what a person perceives as their desired state and what they are willing to do for themselves. The answer affects what will occur to get to a different situation or move towards wellness.

Diabetes can be prevented or at least managed. Even if genes that predispose one to a disease run in the family, development of diabetes often can be avoided by early adjustments in everyday life habits. Effects of diabetes can be minimized by daily actions of an individual.  Although insulin production and uptake by cells for metabolism are influenced by genetics and environment, individual actions and choices have a huge impact on disease development and severity of symptoms.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes type 2 typically occurs with adult onset and is traditionally termed as “sugar diabetes”.  It occurs when insulin is not made in adequate amounts or insulin present in the blood cannot be used by cells. Insulin is a hormone that affects metabolism of food for energy. It is produced in the pancreas and allows cells throughout the body to take in glucose from the bloodstream. Glucose is one end product of the digestion of foods and beverages we consume. Cells use glucose to make energy to fuel their functions.

A well-functioning body requires a balance of food intake, output in energy use and energy storage. Insulin regulates availability and use of glucose for cells. Lack of insulin function can result in high or low levels of glucose in the blood. Too much (high sugar, hyperglycemic) or too little (low sugar, hypoglycemic) can lead to a range of complications. Some of these are weight loss, fatigue, kidney disease, glaucoma and blurry or loss of vision, neuropathy that leads to foot and limb numbness and poor healing of skin lesions, hypertension, stroke, mental health, heart disease and pregnancy complications.

Monitoring levels of glucose in the blood and determining the accumulated glucose that sticks to blood cells over time (A1C levels) are important in detecting diabetes development or in managing disease. They are affected by type and amount of food intake and energy output. Blood sugar can easily be measured as needed by individuals with a glucose monitoring kit. A1C and fasting glucose blood levels are performed periodically as part of routing medical care by medical personnel.

Diabetes affects the entire body. Unchecked, diabetes is not pleasant. Management requires engagement with medical care and continuous attention by individuals and family members.
The bad and the good news

The CDC estimates that 13% of the African American population over 20 years of age has diabetes. Globally diabetes is one of the fastest rising chronic diseases.  Some 80% of persons who will develop diabetes live in middle or low income countries; many are undiagnosed.

Diabetes is affected by type, amount and timing of food intake and influenced by weight, physical activity, stress levels and the timing and amounts of insulin. The metabolism of the body is fine tuned to balance these for a constant supply of energy to use or to store.
Truly we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Diabetes Health Monitor content

Diabetes, as a metabolic disorder, can be managed or disease avoided by lifestyle changes. The spring 2015 issue of Diabetes Health Monitor provides diabetes basics and insights into efforts AMEC episcopal districts and churches are making to promote preventive health care for members and communities.

The issue shares how in the midst of a New Jersey Annual Conference meeting Bishop Gregory Ingram declared that it is “Hokey-Pokey time”. Such provides a short, fun and effective “just move” physical activity in the midst of sitting through sessions of a conference. Most people know how or can easily learn the in, out and turn movements of the “Do the Hokey-Pokey” song. Most people can sing while also mastering some level of hokey-pokey movement to elevate the heart rate and increase blood flow into muscles. Exercise is important to wellness, but it is a central part of managing diabetes and keeping acceptable blood glucose levels.

Another article in the spring 2015 issue includes ongoing efforts at The Empowerment Temple in Baltimore. The pastor of the large AMEC congregation, Dr. Jamal Bryant leads efforts to regularly provide opportunities for members to monitor health indicators and adopt changes for a healthy lifestyle. Their Health Ministry provides periodic blood pressure, diabetes and HIV/AIDS screening, ongoing nutrition and aerobics classes, and offers an exercise boot camp led by a church member and owner of a personal fitness business. Church meals purposefully provide fish, vegetables and fruit.
Small consistent lifestyle habits make a difference in preventing the onset of diabetes or in diabetes management after diagnosis.
The issues include recipes for healthy and tasty favorite foods such as collard greens. The CHC director, Dr. Miriam Burnett, debunks three common myths that contribute to late diagnosis and poor management that can bring on the most devastating effects of diabetes.
The AMEC - Stepping Up
Organizations with an expansive network structure like the AME Church are ideal for promoting wellness and helping to influence changes towards health promoting actions.

Churches and their leaders have access to people, opportunity to increase understanding and hopefully some influence on daily lives.  A connectional commission such as the Connectional Health Commission can lead initiatives for the entire denomination. The option of how to implement each initiative can be decided by the leaders of an individual Episcopal District, Annual Conference or local church. They can decide how to engage to meet specific area needs.

Diabetes Health Monitor is an easy read. The CHC, headed at the episcopal level by Bishop Wilford Messiah, has provided an on-target offering and examples of how small consistent efforts can make big changes in the outcome for diabetes.

Diabetes can be deadly if unchecked. Thankfully, routine medical care can screen for known symptoms for accurate diagnosis of diabetes or pre-diabetes. If either of these is diagnosed, take charge and get informed. Do what is required to improve nutrition, exercise and stress levels and consistently take medication if prescribed.

Diabetes can be defeated!

*The Rev. Oveta Fuller Caldwell, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Michigan (U-M) Medical School, Associate Director of the U-M African Studies Center and an AMEC itinerant elder and former pastor. She lived in Zambia for most of 2013 to study HIV/AIDS prevention among networks of religious leaders.


*Brother Bill Dickens


How do archaeologists, cryptanalysts and linguists decipher extinct languages? The task of deciphering communications is to provide illumination on arcane and vague communication to something of communicative value for the analyst. Has there been a case in history where this was successfully accomplished, without the means of something like the Rosetta stone or people that still speak a similar variant of the language in question?

Obviously you start out by collecting statistics. How often do characters appear, how often do certain characters appear together, etc.? But what do you then do with those statistics? How does it help knowing that A E I O U are vowels, or that u almost always follows q and that h frequently follows t in English?

 Deciphering different languages reminds me of Carl Sagan's reasoning about communication with extraterrestrial civilizations. He says (in Pale blue dot) that science must be fairly universal, and it will provide the basis to understanding each other.

Just like science has its share of challenges in decoding and deciphering different forms of communications, the same is equally true for the Christian Church. The Church School Lesson for May 24, 2015 examines how we should manage the issue about different languages being used in church to worship and glorify God. Are spiritual linguists needed or should we just “go with the flow”. Let’s see how the Apostle Paul answers these questions.

Bible Story

Power of Speaking in Tongues (Acts 2:1-7, 12)
In Acts Chapter 2 Dr. Luke provides a detailed description of the advent of tongues as a witness to the power of God. Many attendees were in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. The attendees were primarily from the region of Galilee. They were united in custom, language and socio-economic status. Shortly after arrival the Holy Spirit manifested His presence in the gathering causing many to begin speaking in a tongue different from their own language.   At the time of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit many Jews from other countries became astonished at hearing Galileans speak in languages different from their own. The aristocratic Jews were astonished and amazed at how such a communications ‘miracle’ could occur. Dumfounded about what they had just seen they could only ask (v. 12) - ‘What does this mean’?

Protocol of Speaking in Tongues (I Corinthians 14: 13-19)

The story just described in Acts provides an historical backdrop for how tongues and different languages were used in worship. God dispatched the Holy Spirit to that location so that Jewish leaders can see His power to communicate using “low-status people” (Galileans). I Corinthians Chapter 14: 13 – 19 tackles a different issue. The situation in this chapter involves how the gift of tongues can be properly used during worship periods.
Paul reaffirms the importance of tongues in ministry but cautions about its overuse. The Apostle makes clear that speaking in tongues without the benefit of a spiritual translator hinder spiritual growth. Some may speak in tongues as a form of their private worship/praise. However, in public venues like congregational worship services, speaking in an unknown tongue absent an interpreter only benefits the speaker and not the masses. If we seek to benefit the masses coming from a prophetic communication the proper protocol according to Paul would be to have an interpreter present to translate the message. If the interpreter is absent the prophecy can’t be understood due to the “language barrier”. An interpreter enables us to migrate from a potentially “nonsense” environment to an environment with clarity. As Solomon indicated in his Proverbs – “In all thy getting get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7).

Life Application

Tomorrow, May 25th 2014, is the day set aside for Memorial Day. Americans pause to show respect for the military men and women who sacrificed their lives in service for their country. President Obama will visit Arlington Cemetery and pay homage to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.   In many military battles soldiers die due to vague and/or ambiguous orders and directions. Failure to communicate can carry a huge price. These types of communication disorders can be minimized if the battle plans are clearly outlined and implemented. The importance of communication snafus has created a relatively new filed in higher education called Communication Disorders. Communication Disorders majors study just about any disorder than impairs language abilities, speaking, hearing, or otherwise normal communication with others. This field deals not only with those people born with disorders, but also those who become afflicted with them later in life. As a Communication Disorders major, your focus will be two-fold: you’ll learn what fundamentally causes these disorders, as well as ways to manage them.  This field is a scientific study of the term glossolalia.

Glossolalia, often understood among Protestant Christians as speaking in tongues, is the fluid vocalizing of speech-like syllables that lack any readily comprehended meaning. In some cases this is part of religious practice. Some consider it as a part of a sacred language. The topic of tongues as a communication tool goes as far back to Genesis with the public building of the Tower of Babel. Readers will recall in that particular situation God used a diversity of tongues and languages to create confusion about how to build the Tower thus creating a work stoppage and the discontinuation of the project. As simple as it may sound, the purpose of communications is to communicate. Speaking in diverse tongues that do not help others not trained in the language is pointless and useless. Information is indeed power in all aspects of our lives. However information only has a value when it is understood and applied.

African American Inspirational Quote for today: “Very early in life I became fascinated with the wonders language can achieve. And I began playing with words. Gwendolyn Brooks

*Brother Bill Dickens is currently the Church School Teacher at Allen AME Church in Tacoma, Washington.  He is currently a member of the Fellowship of Church Educators for the African Methodist Episcopal Church


*The Rev. Dr. Joseph A. Darby

Music is one of my joys in life.  I came to appreciate diverse musical styles and forms as a member of the “Marching 100" Band and the Concert Band at Columbia, South Carolina’s Booker T. Washington High School, the “Garnet and Blue Marching 101 Band" at South Carolina State University and of the Columbia Community Concert Band.  I still pull out and fiddle around with my old clarinet two or three times a year.

I did so this past week at a Beaufort District Workshop on Music and Worship.  The clinician was an accomplished organist and former accompanist when I occasionally played while serving as pastor of Morris Brown AME Church, so we did a number together - along with a percussionist and an old “Marching 101" friend and bass guitarist at the church that hosted the workshop - and we did pretty good!”

I surprised those at the workshop, but I also got a surprise after the workshop, when the percussionist thanked me for letting him participate and said, “By the way, I videoed us and put it on Facebook.”  I’m pleased to say that we also got good Facebook reviews, but I have to admit that if I knew our performance would be featured online, I’d have practiced before playing!

Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are fun, but they also serve as a reminder that we have to be on our best behavior in the age of technology, because we never know who may see what we do.  That reality goes beyond today’s social media and also applies to the lives that we live.

Regardless of whom we are or what we do and regardless of how private we think our lives are, all of us come under unexpected scrutiny sooner or later.  Children see and model their parents’ behavior - for better or worse - and those around us often shape their impressions of us by the things that we say and do - things that we never expected anyone to see or notice.

That’s why it’s good to let the Lord Jesus guide us.  When we walk in the “Light of the Lord” and let God’s Holy Spirit order our steps and direct our actions, God will never lead us wrong.  We’ll find new strength, new hope and new joy, and those who need encouragement and inspiration will see the light of Jesus shining through in our words and deeds - even when we don’t know that they’re looking at us.

Take the advice of the writer of the Biblical Book of James, who encouraged us to be “hearers and doers” of the Word.  You’ll find new meaning and purpose in life, your words and deeds may unexpectedly inspire those around you, and you’ll live out the words of the old Spiritual that says, “I’m gonna live so God can use me, anywhere, Lord, anytime!”

This Meditation is also available as a Blog on the Beaufort District’s Website: www.beaufortdistrict.org

Get Ready for Sunday, and have a great day in your house of worship!

*The Rev. Dr. Joseph A. Darby is the Presiding Elder of the Beaufort District of the South Carolina Annual Conference of the Seventh Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church


The Reverend Berton Zephaniah Lewis, a retired minister in the Oklahoma State Annual Conference, died on Wednesday, May 20, 2015.  He is survived by family members to include his spouse, Sister Inetta Lewis and daughter, Sister Lettie Green.

Funeral Service for the Rev. Lewis is scheduled for:

Saturday, May 30, 2015 at 11 a.m.
First Baptist Church
912 W 1st Street
Chandler, OK 74834

Telephone: (405) 258-0175

Arrangements have been entrusted to:

Parks Brothers Funeral Service
617 Manvell Avenue
Chandler, OK 74834
Telephone: (405) 258-1177

Resolutions may be sent via Fax: (405) 258-2080
Condolences may be sent to the family c/o:

Sister Lettie Green / Daughter
P.O. Box 104
Chandler, OK 74834

Telephone: (405) 258-1356


We regret to inform you of the passing of Mrs. Theautry Hicks, the mother of the Rev. Tyrone Hicks, pastor of St. Andrews AME Church in Sacramento, California and the mother-in-law of the Rev. Phyllis Hicks, First Lady of St. Andrews.  Mrs. Hicks passed from this life to eternity on May 15, 2015.  She was a longtime member and Stewardess of Murph-Emmanuel AME Church, North Highlands, California. 

Celebration of Life for Mrs. Theautry Hicks:

Thursday, May 28, 2015 at 11 a.m.
Murph-Emmanuel AME Church
4151 Don Julio Blvd.
North Highlands, California 95660

Funeral arrangements are entrusted to:

Morgan Jones Funeral Home
4200 Broadway
Sacramento, California 95817
Telephone: (916) 452-4444

Cards and expressions of sympathy may be sent to:

The Rev. Tyrone Hicks
4140 Singing Tree Way
Antelope, California 95843


We regret to announce the passing of Brother Ward D. Spivey III. He was the brother of Marian Spivey Sudler and the son of Mrs. Helen E. Spivey. Sister Sudler is the Executive Administrative Assistant to the Rev. Dr. Jessica Kendall Ingram, Supervisor of the First Episcopal District. Sudler is also the Director of the Philadelphia Conference Board of Christian Education.

The following information has been provided regarding funeral arrangements.

Viewing and Funeral, Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Viewing – 9 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Homegoing Celebration – 11 a.m.
Ward AME Church
728 North 43rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Telephone: (215) 222-7992
Fax:  (215) 222-9209

The Rev. Terrence C. Hensford, pastor

Professional Care entrusted to:

Congleton Funeral Home
67 West Logan Street
Philadelphia, Pa 19144

Telephone:  215-849-7327

Expression of Sympathy can be sent to:

The Spivey-Sudler Family
6210 Ellsworth Street
Philadelphia, PA 19143


It is with deep regret and heavy hearts that we inform you of the passing of the Rev. Dr. George L. Byrd of Knoxville, Tennessee, the senior superannuated Itinerant Elder in the East Tennessee Conference at the ripe age of 91.

His remains will lie in state on Saturday, May 23, 2015 from 12:00 to 6:00 p.m.:

Bethel AME Church
3811 Boyds Bridge Pike
Knoxville, Tennessee 37914

Telephone: (865) 522-6396
The Rev. Keith R. Mayes, Pastor

Receipt of family/Viewing will be Sunday, May 24, 2015 at 4:00 PM with the celebration of life at 5:00 p.m.:

Mt. Calvary Baptist Church
1806 Dandridge Avenue
Knoxville, Tennessee 37915

Telephone: (865) 524-5912
Fax: (865) 522-4111

The Rev. Dr. Robert E. Keesee, Presiding Elder Emeritus will be the eulogist.

Condolences may be sent to:

Mrs. Kim Byrd Kearney
4341 Aylesbury Drive
Knoxville, Tennessee 37918

Services entrusted to:

Patton Funeral Home
265 Fair Street, SE
Cleveland, Tennessee 37311

Office: (423) 472-4430
Fax: (423) 476-9470
Toll Free: (800) 824-8283


The Third Episcopal District regretfully announce the passing of the Rev. Jamey K. Smith, son of the Rev. Mary Ann Smith, associate minister of Shaffer Chapel in McIntyre, Ohio; and the husband of Tina Pullie Smith and father of Tinisha (Solomon) Sheridan.

The Homegoing Celebration was held on Saturday, May 16, 2015 at:

First Baptist Church
1401 Center Street
Wellsville, OH

The Rev. Roosevelt Thompson, officiating

Condolences may be sent to:

Mrs. Tina Smith and family
1231 Commerce Street
Wellsville, OH 43968

The Rev. Mary Ann Smith
1536 Twp. Rd. 191
Bloomingdale, OH 43910

We regret to announce the passing of Mrs. Hazel Register-Kelly who was the grandmother of the Rev. Allan R. Robinson, pastor at New Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia, PA (Philadelphia Conference, South District).

The following information has been provided regarding funeral arrangements.
Viewing and Funeral was held on Saturday, May 16, 2015 at:
Ebenezer Baptist Church of Charlotte
2020 W. Sugarcreek Road
Charlotte, NC 28262

Telephone:  704-598-2219
Fax: (704) 598-8774
Email: fgaston@ebccharlotte.org

The Rev. Leonzo D. Lynch, pastor
Expression of Sympathy can be sent to:

The Rev. Allan R. Robinson
1038 E. Gorgas Lane
Philadelphia, PA 19150


Ora L. Easley, Administrator
AMEC Clergy Family Information Center
Email: Amespouses1@bellsouth.net      
Web page: http://www.amecfic.org/   
Telephone: (615) 837-9736 (H)
Telephone: (615) 833-6936 (O)
Cell: (615) 403-7751


The Chair of the Commission on Publications, the Right Reverend T. Larry Kirkland; the Publisher, the Reverend Dr. Johnny Barbour and the Editor of The Christian Recorder, the Reverend Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III offer our condolences and prayers to those who have lost loved ones. We pray that the peace of Christ will be with you during this time of your bereavement.

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