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

-- Advent ends Wednesday, December 24, 2014
-- Christmastide, Christmas Eve - January 5, 2015
-- Epiphany, January 6 - Sundays after Lent through February 15, 2015
-- Lenten Season: Ash Wednesday, February 18 - Saturday, April 4, 2015.
-- Easter Sunday: April 5, 2015

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year
from all of us at the AMEC Sunday School Union and
The Christian Recorder!


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

2015 has arrived like “a rocket!”  Where did 2014 go?  What happened to 2013 and 2014?  Am I the only person overwhelmed by the swiftness of time?  

There were so many things that I wanted to say in 2014 and so many things I wanted to be sure our readers knew, but time got away from me.

So here is a potpourri of things I want to say and make clear as we traverse 2015.

-- It is not an “X”

A few years ago, there was a movement to take the “X” out of Christmas and people were encouraged to not use the term, “Xmas,” but apparently those who supported that notion did not realize what looked like an “X” was not an “X,” but the Greek letter “Chi,” which looks like an “X”  to those who do not understand that it’s the Greek letter “Chi,” which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός  (Christos), which in English is translated, "Christ."

The early Christians used the symbol of “Chi” as a secret way of identifying themselves as Christian during the Roman and Jewish persecution; it was a way Christians covertly identified each other. “Chi” is an abbreviation for “Christ,” thus “Xmas” is a shorthand way of writing “Christ-mas” and “Xtian” is a short-hand way for writing “Christian.”  The Greek letter “Chi,” which looks like an “X” was never meant to be confused with the “X” in our alphabet.

The holy catholic church

-- The term “holy catholic church” has nothing to do with the “Roman Catholic Church.” I wish pastors would have taken the time to explain this to parishioners instead of changing the language in the Apostles’ Creed.

A guest preacher of another denomination was visiting an AME Church and strayed off-point that when he explained that he had heard a preacher on television embracing Catholicism by reciting the phrase, “the holy catholic church.”  

After the service I wasted some valuable time and breath that I might need at the end of my life by explaining that the preacher was not embracing the Roman Catholic Church, but was referring to “the church universal.”  The guest preacher wouldn’t hear of it, he said, embracing the highest level of ignorance and a refusal to learn, “The preacher on television said ‘catholic’ and that means the Roman Catholic Church to me.”  

The guest preacher was in error, the “holy catholic church” or “church universal” in the Apostles’ Creed predates the Roman Catholic Church and the two are not synonymous.

Stay in place until the prayer response is finished

-- I was taught that preachers and those who pray should remain in place until the “prayer response” is finished because the prayer response is a part of the prayer.

I have recently noticed several occasions at the end of the prayer when the “Amen” was stated; the person who prayed got up and moved to his or her seat.

People in the congregation should not be moving about during the prayer response and ushers should not allow people to come into the sanctuary during the prayer response.

The prayer response is a part of the prayer and closes out the prayer. The prayer response is a time to petition God to hear our prayer and it is a time for parishioners to commit themselves to be obedient to the petitions of prayer. Preachers and parishioners should be in a prayer posture during the prayer response.

No business after the sermon or after Holy Communion

-- The Sermon and Holy Communion are sacred acts of worship that should not be preempted by frivolity, announcements or business.

After a sermon, parishioners should be reflective in accepting Christ in their lives, recommitting to Christ-like behavior, or motivated to serve and be a disciple of Christ. After every challenging sermon there should be commitment or recommitment. A sermon is not an ordinary conversation or another speech.  

Holy Communion, too, is a sacred act and after Holy Communion, parishioners should be in a posture of commitment or recommitment in living lives of harmony with the “Body of Christ.”

And to “push the envelope” a little further, I would go so far as to say, ideally, we should not have ANYTHING after the worship service on the First Sunday, not even an afternoon program and no business meetings after church, especially on First Sunday.

Not a “one-size-fits-all”

-- The AME Church is a connectional church, but we are not a “one-size-fits-all” church.  

It takes different skills to pastor different churches.  Specific skills are needed to pastor large and mega-churches and specific skill sets are needed to pastor small congregations.

A small church cannot be pastored as one would pastor a large or mega-church.  Parishioners have reasons for joining large or mega-churches and parishioners have reasons for joining smaller churches.

Worship styles are different in different locations.  A worship service in an inner-city church might be significantly different than in a church located in suburban or rural areas.  In other words, “one size does not fit all”; not in worship or in pastoral styles of providing ministry.

It is understandable if a large or mega-church pastor did not regularly visit every sick and shut-in member and it would be acceptable if clergy or staff members made pastoral visits. Pastors of large churches can sometimes get away with being inaccessible because they are doing so many things. In large settings, strong administrative and interpersonal skills are admirable traits.

In a small church of less than 200, pastors are expected to make pastoral visits.  People associate with small churches because of the closeness of knowing and interacting with fellow parishioners.

Pastors in small churches need to have strong interpersonal skills and must know how to navigate familial “landmines” that can quickly derail ministry in small church settings. Pastors of small churches need to understand the importance of a strong pastoral ministry of visiting the sick and shut-in members, and providing a “ministry of presence” at significant events involving the lives of parishioners.  In smaller churches, a “ministry of presence” and getting along with parishioners are significant attributes.

“One size does not fit all,” but, we are a connectional church and episcopal leaders, pastors and parishioners need to be mindful of the AME brand. There should be a distinction that we are AME, whether a mega, small or large congregation.  

Watch Meeting Night Service

-- Watch Meeting Night Service is a Methodist tradition and the revisionist account that it started in 1862 is a myth and misinformation. I am certain that the night of December 31, 1862 had a special meaning for the slaves. But as an aside, President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation did not free all of the slaves, only the slaves in the slave-holding states, but I am also certain, for those who took advantage of the emancipation order, December 31st remained a significant day in their lives and in the lives of their descendants.  Watch Night service didn't begin in 1862; it began many years prior to that date.

The Watch Night Service reportedly began with the Moravians in Germany and was picked up by John Wesley who incorporated the service in Methodism.  In England, Europe, and in America, the early Methodists and other religious groups also observed Watch Night services.

In America, Watch Night services were held at St. George Church in Philadelphia where Richard Allen and other blacks were members. We can be certain that Richard Allen celebrated Watch Meeting Night services at St. George Church and it would follow that Watch Meeting Night services were held at Mother Bethel in Philadelphia. 

The electronic version of The Doctrine and Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Church- 2012

-- The electronic version of The Doctrine and Discipline is so convenient and easy to use.  If you order the electronic version of The Doctrine and Discipline, you will receive it on your device, i.e., Smartphone, Tablet, and computer immediately. It can be ordered on Amazon or from Kindle.

A couple of pesky things

There are probably some pastors like me who are asked about a couple of pesky items of a christogram, a combination of letters that form an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ  just when I am experiencing a mental block or a senior moment. Here are a few that we most often see in our churches.

-- The acronym INRI is an inscription that we see on altar hangings.  Most pastors know that it is a Latin acronym for "Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum," which in English represents the Latin inscription, "Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews."  The Latin and Greek alphabets do not have "j" and thus the altar hangings use the Latin acronym, INRI. Please do not pronounce the acronym as "Inri," instead memorize the Latin, "Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum."

-- On some altar hangings we see “IHS” or “IHC.”  IHS represent the first three letters of the Greek name of Jesus, IHΣΟΥΣ, "Iesous" - iota-eta-sigma, or ΙΗΣ, which in English would be “IHS.” The capital form of "eta" looks like a "H."  The Greek letter, “sigma” at the end of a word looks more like a “C,” which is why some christograms list “IHC” or “IHS.”   And, let me say here, being associated with a fraternity was helpful in seminary because I already knew the Greek Alphabet when I took Greek (Thank you Lampados Club of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity).

I don't want to get too "deep in the woods," but "IHS" is sometimes interpreted as meaning Iesus Hominum Salvator ("Jesus, Saviour of men" in Latin).

-- And sometimes we see what looks like "X" superimposed on a "P," which represent the Greek letters, "Chi Rho," the first two letters of the name of Christ. The Greek letter the "Ch" looks like an "X," and the Greek letter, "Rho" looks like a "P" and thus what looks like an “X” superimposed on what looks like a "P" is “Chi Rho,” the first two letters in the name of Christ,

As I said, sometimes parishioners ask questions about christograms when our brains are not functioning.  I hope this is a reminder.

TCR Editor’s Comment: Modified versions of TCR Online will be published during the Xmas holidays


The Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church celebrates the normalization of diplomatic relationships between the United States and Cuba.  We salute President Obama, President Raúl Castro and other political and religious leaders who labored to bring us to this point.  We thank God for this giant step toward greater peace and understanding.

The work of the AME Church in Cuba has been disrupted for over fifty years.  This stride in diplomacy will allow a reconnection of historic roots and enhance spiritual and humanitarian interaction.

We support the call of the National Council of Churches in ringing bells and offering special prayers of thanksgiving.  Let us pray for the people of both the United States and Cuba.  Let us also pray for Bishop John White and the AME’s who work in the region for the resources to support ministry in this new era.


Video clip of Black Lives Matter segment on Arise America

Bishop Bryant featured on Arise America. Appended below is the full coverage of the topic.  Bishop Bryant's interview starts about 1 minute, 50 seconds into the segment (if you want to fast-forward). 


- To the Bishops, General Officers, Connectional Heads of Organizations, General Board Members and all Leadership of African Methodism:

“Greetings to you in the Name of Jesus Christ”

As we close the year of 2014, we have had many challenges in our great Zion and as a people.  We have been heart-broken with the struggle of Morris Brown and now the urgent need for Wilberforce University-where it all began.  However, through faith we have made it through.  We have raised assessments, made special contributions and yes we have prayed without ceasing.

I am always reminded of the statement:  “Sometimes you have to step back to move ahead.”  I am asking as the leadership of the Church, Bishops, General Officers, Connectional Leaders and all that love God and the African Methodist Episcopal Church to consider two suggestions:

Having the rest of our smaller Connectional Meetings in an AME owned property.  In 2015 and 2016 we will have several smaller meetings in preparation of the 50th General Conference that will be held in Philadelphia.  We will have the CONVOs, Lay Executive Board Meetings and several other Connectional events.  We have several venues that we could use and reinvest the money back to the institutions (of course we would need hotels for sleeping accommodations):

First Episcopal District Plaza, Philadelphia
Wilberforce University – Dayton, OH 20 miles away
Allen University – Columbia, S.C.
Paul Quinn College – Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
Edward Waters College, Jacksonville, FL
Shorter College – Little Rock, AR
Morris Brown College – Atlanta, GA
The Daniel Payne Complex – Birmingham, AL
Several of our Larger Churches that have the meeting facilities

There was a time we were not able to meet in the hotels and we had to use our colleges and universities to have our Bishops Council, Lay Biennials, Connectional Christian Education Conferences and other meetings of the church. 

Development of the remaining Morris Brown College property into a School of Hotel Management and a Conference Center for various meetings is an excellent idea, which would keep in place the agreement of Morris Brown as an educational institution, with the added benefit as a conference center for training of those who could eventually manage a full service conference center for the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

As a “younger statesman” of the Church, I encourage our leadership at all levels to “think outside of the box” for the next two years and beyond and recycle our dollars back to our facilities.

Let us go back to our roots and rise again as a Phoenix.

Together We Can!!

God Bless you and God Bless the African Methodist Episcopal Church,

From the Personal Pen of:

Jerry Turner, Jr.
Former Connectional Officer
Director of Lay Activities-Fourth Episcopal District


*The Rev. Lanxton L. Washington

From Ferguson Missouri to New York City to Phoenix Arizona to Cleveland, Ohio, and to South Carolina, young black men are dying!

Think about Trayvon Martin, wearing a hoodie and skittles, young black men are dying

Think about Michael Brown, with hands up don’t shoot, young black men are dying

Think about Eric Gardner, I can’t breathe, young black men are dying

Think about the young black man in Phoenix Arizona reaching for his medication and getting shot, young black men are dying! Yes, young black men are dying.

There was 12 year old, Tamir Rice, Cleveland, Ohio with a toy pistol and when the police arrive within a few seconds, a young black boy is dead.

In South Carolina, a police chief shot a Black man who is sitting in his car; our young black men are dying.

Yes, our young black men are dying!

It could be Philly, Pennsauken, Camden, New York, Los Angles, or Atlanta, DC. It could be anywhere because the justice system looks at us differently.  Our young black men are dying!

Our lives are worthless, that is how they look at our young black men.  Yes our young black men are dying!

40% of all African-American men under the age of 30 have had some encounter with the police/prison system.

Yes, our young black men are dying!

A young black man is an endangered species because he looks or dresses differently and makes the majority population feel fear; our young black men are dying.

Our young black men are incarcerated where others are given house arrests.  What’s the worth of the life of a young black man?

Yes our young black men are dying!

Soon a young black will be extinct because young black men are dying, but, the young Black man will rise again,

Yes, our young black men are dying, but we will do what we have to do stop our young Black men from dying.

-- Composed by the Rev. Lanxton L. Washington with special contribution by Presiding Elder E. Anne Henning-Byfield

*The Rev. Lanxton L. Washington is the pastor Bethel AME Church in Pennsauken, New Jersey


The Rev. Dr. Janae Moore

Should you ever approach me and ask me what I’m doing.
Well, I will certainly and unashamedly tell you: I am constantly, ceaselessly wooing and pursuing loving the Black Being.

Yes, that’s right!
That’s all I want to be doing
Is loving the Black Being
So that I can better be seeing
How to love all others, including my enemy,
The one or ones who seek to devour and destroy me and all others like me and the beauty, boldness and
Blessedness of our Blackness.

So yes, I’m loving, loving that which has been attacked, shackled and chained, rejected and despised, enslaved, raped, lynched, brutally beaten, even mercilessly set on fire,
Left to die a slow, agonizing death, left to relinquish the very last breath without dignity, without pride.
But No! It will never, ever be so because we were created to reproduce, multiply and grow, Love.

And so I’m loving. I’m loving that which has been falsely accused and wrongfully misused as well as immorally abused repeatedly, relentlessly throughout most of history.
I’m loving that which has been negatively stereotyped, caricatured and labeled with pictures, words and names that have sought to “de-sacralize” and defame
Who we really are as a God-created and a God-purposed people.

I’m loving that which has been discriminated against and oppressed
By folk who fail to honor and heed God’s commandment to love and thus, instead, are obsessed
With holding the Black being down and back,
Too unwilling to give the Black Being much, if any, leeway or slack as they have availed themselves
To be cruelly used as instruments for spiritual warfare,
But yet, they seemingly don’t dare to let themselves let go, so that they can too know God’s love.

So I’m loving. I’m loving the Black Being until we are completely, absolutely freeing ourselves
From the false and detrimental images and likenesses that are not our essence;
Until we fully comprehend that the presence of God does dwell within our temples,
Just as God created us in the very beginning of time – a time before the destructive tendencies
And proclivities of unenlightened humanity sought to warp and distort our minds.

So, I need to and I must tell you that I am L-O-V-I-N-G- loving the Black Being until the fragmented parts and dismembered pieces of our hearts, minds, bodies and souls are brought together and are again made whole;
Until we are healed from this pernicious malady called racism and all other isms that have
Wreaked havoc by causing dissensions, divisions and schisms between, within and amongst us all.

So yes, I am loving. I am loving the Black Being until we stop hating ourselves and one another
And are instead honoring, respecting and joyfully greeting all as sisters and brothers in an extended embrace
Of peace and love that holds and sustains us all – assuring that no one – no, not one of us, stumble or fall
Out of the grace and glow of God’s sacred and holy Light.
I am loving until we only know love as our divine birthright and we get right
Our need to be loved and to love.

So please, yes, ask me what I’m doing so I can certainly and unashamedly tell you:
I am wooing and pursuing the Black Being with Love!
Why? Because Black Lives Matter!


I (your name) know that God will order my steps throughout my life.
I must make good decisions in order to be successful.
Therefore I will listen and obey my parents, grandparents and other relatives because I know they love me and want what is best for me.
Therefore I will obey and abide by all rules and regulations when I am at school; I will listen to all of my teachers and other school officials.  I will not cause confusion or be a disruption at my school.
Therefore I will treat all of my classmates and friends with dignity and respect.  When I meet someone new I will also treat them with dignity and respect.
Therefore I will display a good attitude at all times and will maintain high levels of self respect and respect for others.
Therefore when I am in my community and other communities I will obey all rules and regulations.  I will not have any verbal or physical confrontations with the police or any other authority figure.  I will follow their instructions and will not talk back to them.
Therefore as I am growing into manhood I will be mindful of the fact that I have a responsibility to help other boys and to be a service to other people.
I have a bright future ahead of me so I know that I can, I must and I will succeed.

Author- James B. Ewers Jr. Ed.D.
December 17, 2014


It was a joyous occasion on December 13th, 2014, when Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church located at 2518 Fairland Road in Silver Spring, Maryland, where the Rev. Alan M. Gould Sr. is pastor, fulfilled a vision by presenting a Christmas play and celebration, titled “Following Yonder Star – A Night in Bethlehem,” at the John F. Kennedy High School Auditorium, also located in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Various ministries of Allen Chapel captivated the audience with awe and appreciation.  The Kipaji, Swahili for “talent or ability,” Ministry provided a theatrical performance, titled “A Night in Bethlehem,” written by Sharon Kay Chatwell and produced under the direction of Brother Charles Clyburn.  This play used contemporary dialogue from the perspectives of a narrator, Mary, Joseph, an Innkeeper, Shining Stars, Angels, Shepherds and Kings, to describe the night of our Savior’s birth.  Within the performance, Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church Christmas Choir provided spiritual-themed music, under the leadership of Sister Angela Burgess.  The Divinity Mime Ministry, under the direction of Sister Nicole Gould, performed to the songs “Joy,” “No Greater Love,” “Something about the Name,” and “Bow Down,” using their talents and gifts to give praise and glorification to our Redeemer.  Praise Dancers uplifted the spectators through colorful ribbons and flags, giving Jesus admiration and veneration.  Sister Roberta Marsh, Sister Phyllis Henderson, Brother Jason Gaskins and Brother Gordon Lewis also blessed those in attendance with powerful solos and instrumental performances.  The Culinary Ministry, guided by Sister Christine Wilson, provided a pre-production meal for the program participants.  The evening also featured a silent auction, vendors, door prizes and an advertisement section within the program, which provided support and encouragement, both locally and as far away as Florida. 

The talented artist, Brother Michael Spears, created the background used on stage by hand.  This setting included twelve different panels, 9’ x 4’ in size, including three that highlighted angels showing reverence and devotion to the newborn King. Sister Patricia Owens coordinated the vibrant costumes for the theatrical component of the production and provided the printed copies of the detailed souvenir program booklet.  Stagehands, prop supervisors, lighting coordinators and microphone operators were all available, ensuring a flawless evening. 

Through hard work, perseverance, prayer and faith, various individuals worked diligently together to create this show. The program chairperson was Sister Burgess and she was assisted by the Production Committee: Brother Clyburn, Sister Saundra A. Sidbury, Brother Spears, Sister Owens, Sister Isa Freeman, Sister Dollie Wallace, Sister Alfreda C. Johnson, Sister Marsh, Sister Hattie Abner, Sister Loretha Dennis and Sister Monica L. McGill.

The Rev. Gould remarked that we needed to go and tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere that our Savior, Jesus Christ, is born.  He reemphasized Allen Chapel’s Motto: Loving God, Loving People and Loving Community.  He thanked everyone in attendance and encouraged everyone to continue to be a vessel for the Lord.

Truly, God’s presence was experienced that night, as we all remembered, through theatrical work, pantomiming, singing and praise dances, A Night in Bethlehem!

Mr. Frederick D. Wallace IV


By the Rev. Linda Connor

Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, presiding bishop of the 10th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, recently held a news conference to announce the district’s participation in National Black Solidarity Sunday, because Black Lives Matter! The event was held in the District Headquarters’ chapel in Richard Allen Plaza in Dallas, Texas.

Joining her in ecumenical unity was Senior Bishop Lawrence L. Reddick III, presiding bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church; Dr. Frederick D. Haynes III, pastor of Friendship West Baptist Church; the Rev. Barbara LaToison, pastor of St. Mark African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church; and the Rev. Dr. Vanessee J. Burns, pastor of Christian Chapel Temple of Faith CME Church and others representing the four denominations. In addition, more than 40 AME presiding elders, clergy and lay leaders holding signs of protest slogans filled the chapel to overflowing.

Bishop McKenzie opened her remarks with James Weldon Johnson’s poem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” as a metaphor for the road towards justice and equality for African Americans.  She noted that Johnson wrote the poem in 1900 for his 500 students to introduce Booker T. Washington in a celebration for President Lincoln’s birthday.

“More than a century later in 2009,” said Bishop McKenzie, “the Rev. Joseph Lowery used this same stanza to introduce his benediction at the inauguration of the President of the United States, Barack Obama.  In between there has been the tyranny of lynching, Jim Crow, Separate but Equal, integration and a Civil Rights Movement. Today, we say stony the road we trod to remind us that we will continue to lift every voice and make every effort to confront the brutal biased Grinch’s of our time.

“This stony road has been marred by a lot of potholes that have damaged the undercarriage of justice,” Bishop McKenzie said.  “Civil and human rights are caught up in a traffic jam with racial profiling, police brutality, Stand Your Ground Laws, poor public education, the lack of a livable wage and the public school to prison pipeline. There have been unexpected detours such as unfair sentencing practices and the privatization of the penal institutions.

“Many biases,” she said, “including the stereotyping of black men and women have now created a toxic environment where a child in a hoody walking home, a teenager in the back of a car with too loud music, or walking in the middle of the street or a child playing with a pellet gun is somehow an evil menace that must be shot and put down like a rogue horse.”

Bishop McKenzie said the African Methodist Episcopal Church is issuing a national call to action. “We cannot be silent while the lives of too many men and women are being hijacked by a biased criminal justice system, social and cultural fears and phobias.

“We’re not standing here saying we’re just going to wear black on Sunday. We will wear black on Sunday as a sign of solidarity. We’re not saying we’re just going to pray. We are going to pray because we are communities of faith and we know God can do things that we cannot do individually, but we are also now asking that this nation take a critical look at the criminal justice system and we’re calling for an overhaul of this justice system.

 “We insist on the training of law enforcement persons, including prosecutors, in diversity and racial cultures not just to sensitize them, but to change their minds and ways of thinking. Whether that person works behind a desk or on the streets, regardless of race creed or color, we want them to understand the rich heritage and diversity that makes up this community and our country,” said Bishop McKenzie.

“We want to build better relationships between law enforcement agencies and the community. We need to create open dialogue by working together. We want special prosecutors to be assigned to cases of police shooting/killing of unarmed citizens, excessive force or police brutality; someone to bring in an objective, fair and transparent process.

“We want better communication and community outreach between law enforcement and our young people, creating programs that don’t just talk at them, but rather help law enforcement to see how to participate in our community in a positive and productive manner. We must encourage parents and guardians to have honest dialogue with young people about how to protect themselves against those who are charged to protect and to serve them,” she said.

“We need to continue our steady beat working for voter’s rights, fair voter registration legislation, justice and equality. We’re not just here to say we’re going to wear black and pray on Sunday, but we’re calling for a boycott of corporations who demonstrate overt and covert prejudicial policies. We are not going to spend our hard earned money with those persons who are not good community stewards,” declared Bishop McKenzie. “We are going to continue to apply the pressure necessary to demonstrate that Black Lives Matter and that we will not be silent!” 

AME churches and those of other denominations across the state wore black on National Black Solidarity Sunday and spoke in support of Black Lives Matter. Media coverage included television news, newspapers and blogs.


*The Rev. Timothy Sands, MScM, M.Div.

Unfortunately, leadership is ineffective in the secular as well as sacred world for numerous reasons.  I believe one of the reasons and the missing link is the lack of love.  Thus, for a corporation and yes, the church to survive love is essential. 
So once reading the Rev. Dr. Sydnor’s comments about New Year’s Resolutions in The Christian Recorder, I had to share some particulars on the importance of incorporating love into his or her New Year’s resolutions. 

Moreover, when visitors arrive, he or she should know immediately, this church is about love.  They will be able to leave and tell their family members, friends and others in the community the ambience there is love. 

There is no hatred toward the pastor about the connectional budget (especially in the African Methodist Episcopal Church) if his or style of preaching and the theology are sound.

The visitors know everyone is working together, and if there is any strife, it is minimal.  In other words, he or she knows love not only is mention during the season of Advent but every tenth of a second.  Further, they know the shepherd is leading and not dictating as everyone is in collaboration on the goals.

Each day everyone is lifting one another up with his or her spiritual gifts and understands if evil arise he, or she can face it with love.  The aforementioned usually means an effective leader is in place.  Thus, I am reminded of John 13:1 which states, “it was just before the Passover Feast.  Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father.  Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love” (New International Version).  

Now when love is portrayed the disagreements that do emerge will not result into negativism.  Also, this deters gossip because everyone is held accountable to be positive and know it is okay to agree to disagree in love.  Once everyone realizes everybody is alike in God’s eyes; all tasks, as well as goals, are met or exceed expectations.  Therefore, at the end of the day, everyone is on one accord because of God’s love.  Hence, “Leadership is not an affair of the head.  Leadership is an affair of the heart.” ~James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

*The Rev. Timothy Sands, MScM, M.Div. is the Senior Pastor at Camp Hope AME Church in Macon, Georgia


*The Rev. Dr. Rebecca R. Rivka

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.”
– John 1:1-2

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” (The Message Bible)

Mary had a baby.  They called “HIS name Jesus.” – Luke 1:31

Jesus the Word, the Christ of God, lives within the house, the personhood of every believer, as the Holy Spirit of God. (Rivka)

We come now to the text: John 1: 14: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.

1) “And the Word was made flesh,” ... clears the whole matter up now – of God in man. The incarnation of Spirit in matter is more comprehensible. It makes the historical birth personal for us because the Word became Jesus, a human being like you and me - yet more. Jesus is the God-man. Physician Luke records Jesus’ incarnation in Bethlehem.  “And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name Jesus.” (Luke 1:31). The Word is Jesus; The Logos, the Mind, Purpose and Agent of God’s Self-Disclosure. The world has portrayed God wrongly. He is not a cruel, vengeful Creator who runs rough shod over the human race. Jesus revealed God as love and life, joy and peace.

2) “And dwelt among us.” - Christ has come to this lowly world with all its corruption and sin. He who knew no sin put Himself in the position of sinful man. He could have dwelt with angels but He chose us that we might learn of Him and model His nature.

We couldn’t make it – God and man. Jesus had always dwelt among His world as the Christ revealing Himself through the prophets, but we couldn’t understand. We needed a role model in human flesh, a God-man with whom we could identify.

Christ has come in flesh into the world. This places an honor on both the body and the world. It encourages us to be willing to abide in the flesh while God has work for us to do. For Christ dwelt in this lower world, bad as it is, till he had finished His work, until His hour had come.

Jesus has dwelt among us. He dwelt among the Jews and others though many were unkind to him. Sometimes we must pitch our tent among those including family (our supposed calling and environment) that are not kind to us. Jesus gives us hope and courage to tarry on. He dwelt among us not as a wayfaring sojourner, but he had a long residence.  He dwelt not in a palace but in temporary housing, for he had no where to lay his head.  The homeless have a friend in Jesus today who knows all about their destitution. Our children and loved ones far from home have a friend in Jesus.

3) There is the suffering Savior for the poor. He “dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth).” (John 1:14) Those of us, who are intimate with Jesus, who lean upon His breast, know that as we get closer to the Lord we see the Beams of His Divine Glory darting through the Veil of His flesh.  We see Him as God and we behold His Glory. “For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9)

Coming from the fountain-head is the Word made flesh and He has dwelt among us full of grace and truth. Grace, God’s grace, marvelous grace, unmerited favor to pardon and cleanse from sin and grace to cover all of our needs. And Jesus reveals the truth of our identity that we are like God, created in love, beauty, peace and joy.

There is divinity in John’s argument, and authority and majesty in his style.  Therefore, we have problems with the contention of Corinthus and others that Jesus was not God at his birth.

We have no problem with Isaiah 9:6: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”

We have no debate with Job 19: 25 -27: “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”

He has dwelt among us. The Spirit does subdue the deeds of the flesh. We know of the amazing working of the Holy Spirit in our own lives, exalting valleys, bringing down hills and mountains, making crooked places straight and  rough places plain, revealing the Glory of the Lord. (Isaiah 40:4-5)

Jesus has dwelt among us in the flesh and we beheld His holiness, miracles, purity, goodness and compassion. “To the praise of the Glory of His Grace.” (Ephesians 1:6) All believers can give witness that Jesus Christ has dwelt among us. We are redeemed from the slavery of sin because the Word was made flesh and tucked in our bosom. Christ Jesus through the dispensation of the Holy Spirit is in the world today. He dwells among us, taking care of His own.

Amen. (Oh, Yes!)

*The Rev. Dr. Rebecca R. Rivka is (ret.) Professor of Psychology, Norfolk State University and member of Saint John’s African Methodist Episcopal Church, Norfolk, Virginia.


The Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith

In 1951, the poet Langston Hughes asked the question “What happens when a dream is deferred?” The questions that follow in the poem suggest pain, anger, and rage can erupt when dreams are not achieved or are deferred. 

In August 1963, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., stated he had a dream of a beloved community not only rooted in the American dream, but a dream that was primarily grounded in Christian faith and in biblical texts such as the Lord’s Prayer that states, “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  Dr. King and other dreamers of the time, like those in the student non-violence movement, had a vision that would bring the dream closer to my generation and subsequent generations of today. They prayed, acted, and gave so that subsequent generations would see the end of injustices, violence, hunger, and poverty for all people.  A vision that would remove the scourge of racial and class bias.

While it is true that public policies at the federal, state, and local levels have reformed some unjust laws, today’s protests and public prayers make it clear that these past victories are only the start of true reform. 

It was not enough to pass executive actions in the first decade of the 2000s addressing the concerns of our Latino/Latina “Dreamers.” They too believe their generation should have an opportunity to pursue a good education and a life without violence, poverty, and hunger.  The president’s executive order on immigration reform has been a huge step forward, but much work remains. Some of these dreamers have joined the “hands up, don’t shoot” campaign in their fight for social justice.

This year marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The tragic loss of black lives this year reminds us that the dream of the beloved community is still deferred.  A disproportionate number of African-Americans continues to suffer from hunger, live in poverty, and are incarcerated in mass numbers. The tragic deaths of young, African-American men like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner, who died at the hands of police engagement, remind us that justice is still not color blind.

The protests surrounding these issues demonstrate that this generation has not given up on the dreams of their parents and grandparents, a dream grounded in peace and justice.  We are witnessing signs of hope as people stand up and lie down (die-ins) to say that a deferred dream of a more just and peaceful community, that respects and loves black lives can move us closer to the dream of beloved community.


The National Council of Churches rejoices in the steps taken by President Obama and Raul Castro to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba. In addition, the NCC celebrates the return of Alan Gross, imprisoned for five years in Cuba, to the United States, and for the humanitarian release of three of the "Cuban 5."

"The news that Cuba and the United States are now ending a half-century of hostility is welcome indeed during this season of Advent,” said National Council of Churches General Secretary Jim Winkler. “I salute Presidents Obama and Castro, and express thanks to Pope Francis and all those who helped bring this moment to pass. I ask local churches in the United States to follow the example of churches across Cuba and ring their bells in thanks and celebration!"

NCC Chair Roy Medley also stated: “We thank God for this wonderful news of these significant steps toward normalization of relations between our two nations. The NCC has long advocated for this day and we know our partners at the Cuban Council of Churches are as jubilant at this moment as are we."

The National Council of Churches has a deep history of advocacy for normalization of U.S. - Cuba relations on the basis of its long-standing friendship with the Cuban churches. Recent advocacy includes a delegation in December, 2011 in which members visited with Alan Gross just before meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro. Delegates were able to report on Gross’s condition and call for his release on humanitarian grounds.

Many NCC member communions have maintained ties to fellow Christians in Cuba through these difficult years. Some have been active in advocacy efforts culminating in this day.

“This is a great day for the people and churches of Cuba,” said NCC Associate General Secretary Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos.  “We have long affirmed that economic engagement is crucial to reform.  Engagement, communication, travel, and commerce will transform Cuban society more effectively than will our years of sanctions and boycotts.”

The NCC has known of the situation of the churches through the years of the embargo, and the vibrant faith that has flourished despite the communist regime.  The seminary in Matanzas has been a force in the region in theological scholarship.  Also, the NCC witnessed a thawing of anti-religious rhetoric with the opening of the Greek Orthodox cathedral in 2004, to which a delegation was sent to accompany the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew when he traveled there to celebrate the establishment of the cathedral.  The NCC, along with Church World Service, has constantly worked with the Cuban Council of Churches for the humanitarian and spiritual well-being of the people of Cuba. 

The NCC plans to send a delegation to the Assembly of the Cuban Council of Churches this April.

The National Council of Churches and the Cuban Council of Churches celebrate this day and asks Congress to move forward with full normalization between our two countries.


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

Based on Biblical Texts: Luke 2:7 – “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

The record shows that more than two thousand years ago, a very uncommon birth took place. It was that birth taking place that literally changed the world.

Luke, a physician thought it noteworthy to record the birth of Jesus in, of all places, an unsanitary manger in a filthy stable. Luke points out that Jesus is introduced to the world having spent the initial moments of His earthly existence in a manger, in a stable “because there was no room for them in the inn.”

Luke, no doubt, just like many of us who have come to know who Jesus is and the Salvation work that Jesus came to accomplish, was secretly appalled at the thought of His conditions.  I submit that as shocking as these paltry conditions were, there should not have been anything surprising or seemingly untimely about it. As a matter of fact the Bible reminds us that it was the prophet Micah who told the Jews 400 centuries ago that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

In fact, throughout the Old Testament, the birth of Jesus Christ was clearly predicted and not just the place of His birth, but also His Name and His position. The Bible says, “Thou shalt call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14) The Bible says, “And the government shall be upon His shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) The Bible says, about Jesus’ purpose, “thus shall He deliver us” (Micah 5:6)

From what shall He deliver us? Life under Roman rule was a far cry from the covenant relationship God established with David in Jerusalem so many centuries before. The Promised Land no longer in the hands of Israel was now in the hands of a heathen power. The Prince no longer appointed by God, was now empowered by Rome. Judea was no longer ruled by God but by a descendant of Esau, Herod the Great. The Temple was no longer inhabited by God and was at this point being misused by heathens. Lamentably, the Priests of God, the Sadducees and Pharisees, were no longer the ministers of God.  Now they were not only in the world, they were of the world. It is safe to assume that many folk had all but given up the hope of ever seeing their Deliverer.

When you think about it, it really does make sense that no one noticed when Mary and Joseph came into town for the census, riding on a donkey as it was the common transportation for most every visitor in Bethlehem that day. It makes sense that no one noticed that this was the same Mary who got pregnant out of wedlock and had to be hidden away for nine months to spare her reputation. It makes sense that there were so many Jews in town that as pregnant as she was, Mary was just one in a crowd.

I can imagine Brother Joseph walking up and, knocking on the door of the Inn. Joseph, weary from his travels and concerned for his pregnant wife asked the innkeeper “Sir, may I have a room for myself and my wife who is about to deliver?” All he wanted for his wife was a clean mattress stuffed with fresh straw and a little bit of privacy.

But instead of the warm welcome he had hoped for all Joseph got was a cold “there is no room.” There is no room inside the inn, but “you can use the stable”. As Joseph stood on the stoop, pleading with the innkeeper for a space, he must have been able to hear the drunken Roman soldier’s voices coming from the inside. He, no doubt, could hear the loud voices of the public officials sent by Caesar Augustus to record the census. There was room for them, but no room for the Jesus.

The truth is we are all guilty of beautifying the manger scene. We envision a clean swept barn and a place with fresh hay and straw. We have even portrayed the animals as calm and submissive softly baying in the background. We see a serene, quiet, sanctified tranquility with angels sweetly singing heaven’s music.

We visualize angels ministering to freshly shaven shepherds in flowing robes, as Mary gently rocks her newborn in the cradle awaiting the arrival of three regally dressed Wise Men bearing expensive gifts. Maybe it is because we can’t take the whole truth.

The whole truth is, if we were to walk through the stable that day we would be wading through manure and straw inhaling the nauseating smell of the animals. Jesus Christ came all the way from heaven to wallow in the filth of a stable like this, just for us! We beautify the story of Jesus’ birth, and all the while we forget that He lay, not in a rocking cradle, but in a feeding trough for filthy animals.

Is it because it just makes for a better story? Or is the real truth we clean it up so because we can’t bear the thought that God Incarnate was subjected to such abuse and scorn? I know we love Jesus. I submit that our love for our Savior might cause us to ask the question, “Why didn’t God Himself make room in the Inn for His Only Begotten Son?”

But when I think of the goodness of Jesus and how He has loved us. When I think about how far He has brought us. How could any room be sufficient enough to hold the Savior of the World? Is there any place on earth that could contain God?

I want Jesus to know that I am convinced more than ever, “All heaven and earth cannot contain You, for You made them and me in them.” There is no room in an inn, no room in a manger, no room in the world that can contain our Lord. And yet, Jesus wants to inhabit us!

He after looking down and seeing our sad predicament, left His home in glory and came down to us, to save us. He left the comfort of Heaven to sleep in some filthy manger. He came, not to be rocked like a little baby, He came to knock! He came down to knock on the door of our heart so that we would let Him in. He came to knock on the door of our heart that if we would let Him in we could be elevated to Him.

So the question is not, “Why was there no room in the inn for Jesus?” The question is, “Why is there no room in our heart for Him?”

As Joseph traveled to Bethlehem with Mary, I am sure he did not envision the problems he would encounter. With his wife being in such a delicate condition, it never dawned on Brother Joseph that anybody could possibly turn him away. But the Bible tells us that there was chaos and confusion throughout the city. The hustle and bustle in the overcrowded city filled every hotel room. People poured in taking up every nook and cranny of Bethlehem’s accommodations.

I contend that far too often, that’s the way it is with us. We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas festivities. We engross ourselves in the parties and planning. We get all tied up in the tinsel and mistletoe. We get so lost in the garland and gifts that we forget to make room for the Christ-child. Jesus is still waiting for us! Jesus is still waiting for us to make room for Him in our lives. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to Him and will sup with Him, and he with me.” NIV

Jesus is coming this Christmas but the scene is not the serene, tranquil nativity scene of Mary rocking Jesus in a cradle. In other words the picture we should have this Christmas is not of Jesus rocking. The scene we should have etched on our mind this Christmas is that of Jesus knocking. Jesus is knocking on the door of our heart, but we have to make room for Him. The door to our heart can only be opened from the inside. We have to open the door of our life to Jesus.

Jesus made room for us at the cross. Christmas is a great time for us to make room for Him. We should let Him in, right now. When we let Jesus in, Jesus will quench our thirst with Living Water and satisfy our hunger as the Bread of Life. When we let Him in He will remove the shame of our hidden past and cure the pain of our troubled present.

This Christmas Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart will you make room for Him?

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


The Getting to Zero Column, penned by Dr. Oveta Fuller, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and Faculty of the African Studies Center at the University of Michigan and adjunct faculty at Payne Theological Seminary will resume in January 2015.


Bill Dickens, Allen AME Church, Tacoma, Washington

On July 8, 2010, the basketball world and sports aficionados waited with baited breath concerning where NBA superstar LeBron James would be playing in the upcoming NBA season.  Will it be his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio?  Will it be Chicago, Illinois?  Will it be New York or Miami? 

Seen by many hoops experts as the “Anointed One,” the final decision was made public through an exclusive ESPN special broadcast known simply as "The Announcement." After months of no indications about what NBA team would be home to his unique talents, the announcement was finally made and the "King" decided to “take his talents” to South Beach, aka, Miami.

The Adult AME Church School Lesson for December 21, 2014 looks also looks at an "Announcement."  This announcement is unrivaled in history.  Luke Chapter 2:8-20 chronicles the key events leading up to the birth announcement about Jesus, the Savior of the World!  Verses 8-9 describe how the shepherds were occupied with their normal work duties in watching over the sheep from predators when suddenly a bright light lit up the sky.  Understandably the young men were terrified at the sight since it appeared unexpectedly.  An angel of the Lord provided comfort to the shepherds.  The words of Peace and good news help to ease the shepherd’s fears.  They had no reason for fear since they were about to witness the most significant birth in the history of the human experience. 

The angel provided pinpoint and precise directions and instructions where the baby Jesus would be born.  Jesus will be born in Bethlehem, the City of David, in a manger, typically the residential domain for domesticated animals (verses 11-12). 

Despite this unorthodox resting place, God is pleased.  The angel proclaims "Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all men and women." 

The shepherds proceed to Bethlehem to see the Christ Child.  Upon their arrival, they see exactly what the angels had announced.  The shepherds, once griped with fear, have been transformed from terror to joy to testimony about the Glory of God.  News is quickly dispatched to all in Bethlehem about the Savior by the first evangelists (shepherds).

The announcement of the birth of Jesus has no equal in the annals of human history.  With no social media, CNN, cable news or broadcast TV news, the announcement of Jesus’ birth stands alone as the greatest announcement ever recorded.  The birth was much anticipated and during the advent season we see its fulfillment.  "Go Tell It on the Mountain... where Jesus Christ was born!"  It may be an overused church cliché, but during Advent season this is truly the "reason for the season."  Glory to God in the highest!


*The Rev. Dr. Joseph A. Darby

- Divisions in the Church

10 I appeal to you, brothers, [a] by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. English Standard Version (ESV)

Churches are often big on symbolism, and I got two symbols of my present “middle management” ministry assignment in the mail today - Presiding Elder lapel pins.  They’re specially designed for Presiding Elders in the AME Church and are a good way to identify other Presiding Elders at large, international denominational meetings.

I ordered those pins to replace the pin that I bought a year and a half ago, when I also bought my blue and white Presiding Elders robes - the pin that I subsequently lost three months ago.  One of my new pins is a “spare,” since I lose lapel pins fairly easily.  I like the pin, but losing my first one didn’t stop me from functioning in my present ministerial role and didn’t stop people from calling me “Elder” - something it took me a while to get accustomed to after my appointment!

That lapel pin and the robes that I now wear are nice symbols of my present position, but they’re just symbols that really don’t define me or my work.  The work that I strive to do to the best of my ability - and humbly seeking God’s guidance - is hopefully what makes me a Presiding Elder in the AME Church.

I offer those thoughts about symbolism to you in the midst of this Advent season that leads up to the season of Christmastide, when we’re surrounded by symbols of the season.  We adorn our homes, business and churches with ornamented Christmas trees, colorful lights, wreaths, holly, poinsettias, mistletoe and other delightful reminders of the season.

All of those symbols are nice, but Christmas is about more than symbols.  Christmas is about a child born in a barn, whose first cradle was a rough bin used to hold animal feed, because His young and un-influential parents of modest means couldn’t find other lodging in a crowded town of Bethlehem.  Nothing about His birth suggested to the world in symbolic ways who that child actually was - the Christ and Savior who came into this world to take away our sins and grant us access to everlasting life.

Remember that child and remember the lack of impressive worldly symbolism surrounding His birth.  This world is big on symbols, but if we focus on symbols and not substance, then our lives can become empty, stressed and meaningless.  Enjoy life’s symbols of status and influence, but live your life working for the Lord Jesus Christ.  You’ll then find peace of mind and new appreciation for the words of a wonderful hymn of the church - “Only what you do for Christ will last.”

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


-- Freestyle by Dr. Michael W. Waters wins two USA Best Book Awards

The Reverend Dr. Michael W. Waters' debut book Freestyle: Reflections on Faith, Family, Justice, and Pop Culture, with foreword by Bishop John Richard Bryant, Senior Bishop of the A.M.E. Church, is an Award-Winning Finalist in the 2014 USA Best Book Awards in two categories: Religion: Christianity and Social Change. The publisher's press release of these awards may be found at the following link:

Dr. Waters is the founder and Senior Pastor of Joy Tabernacle AME Church in Dallas, Texas.

Congratulatory remarks may be sent to pastor.mike@joytabernacleame.org.

The Rev. Dr. Michael W. Waters
Founder and Senior Pastor
Joy Tabernacle AME Church

-- Jonathan Weary Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Jonathon Weary graduated University of Maryland Eastern Shore with a Bachelors Degree in Rehabilitation Psychology, Summa Cum Laude. Jonathan is the son of the Rev. Willie and Mrs. Jackie Weary, pastor and first lady of Peters Chapel A.M.E. Church, Muskogee, Oklahoma. Jonathon also serves as the Nominating Chairperson of the Connectional YPD.

Congratulatory responses can be emailed to: 

The Rev. Willie and Mrs. Jackie Weary: JW1059@aol.com

-- Joshua C. Sylvester receives a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communication from Southern University A&M College

On Friday, December 12th, Joshua C. Sylvester received a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from Southern University A&M College, Baton Rouge Louisiana.  Joshua is the son of the Reverend Kecia A.  Lewis, Pastor of St. Paul AME Church in Lake Charles LA and brother of Miss Zacchea Lewis the Central North Louisiana Conference YPD President.

Congratulatory responses can be sent to:

Joshua C. Sylvester
1207 17th Street
Lake Charles LA 70601


It is with heartfelt sadness that we request your prayers for the Rev. Dr. Joanne Browning, co-pastor, Ebenezer AME Church, Fort Washington, Maryland in the passing of her mother.  Details will be shared once arrangements are made.  In the meantime, please send words of comfort to the church.

Ebenezer AME Church
7707 Allentown Road
Fort Washington, MD 20744

Church # 301-248-8833
Church fax# 301-248-8803


We regret to announce the passing of Sister Pamela Martin Jenkins. She was the daughter of the late Presiding Elder Charles E. Martin, former President of the Connectional Presiding Elder Council and Sister Jean Martin. The following information has been provided regarding the funeral arrangements.

An intimate celebration of Life will be held Saturday, December 20, 2014, 12 noon

Quinn Chapel AME Church
109 Prospect Ave.
Atlantic Highland, NJ 07716

Telephone: (732) 291-1078
Fax: (732) 231-5424

The Rev. Theresa Smith, Pastor

Condolences may be sent to:

Ebenezer AME Church
C/o martin-Jenkins Family
253 Central Ave.
Rahway, NJ 07065

Fax: 732-587-6178

In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes monetary donations.

Please keep the family in your prayers.


It is with great compassion we share the news of the passing of Brother Charles E. Freeman, the father of Rev. Ronald Freeman, Pastor of St. Luke AME, Accomac, VA and the Second Episcopal District Marshall.

Final Viewing December 27, 2014 at
Bennie Funeral Home
855 High Street
Chestertown, Maryland 21620
410 778 2161

Grave Side Service
Fairlee, Cemetery
Fairlee, Maryland 23464

Condolences can be sent to:

The Rev. Ronald L. Freeman Sr.
4712 Chalfont Drive
Virginia Beach 23464

Telephone: (757) 439-2472


We are saddened by the passing of Rev. Isaac Jackson (former Pastor of St. Michael AME, Meadowview AME, and St. Paul AME Danville). Please keep his wife, Mrs. Doris Jackson and the Jackson family in your prayers.

The funeral arrangements are:
Funeral Home:
Miller's Funeral Home
PO Box 423
Gretna, VA 24557

Flowers to Funeral Home:
668 Zion Rd.
Gretna, VA 24557

Wake: Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014 at Miller's Funeral Home
4 p.m.-7 p.m. the family will be present from 6-7 p.m.

Funeral will be: Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 12 noon at St. Paul AMEC, Danville, VA.

Send words of comfort to:

Wife: Mrs. Doris Jackson
Address: PO Box 869
Chatham, VA 24531
Phone: 434-250-4731

Obituary is posted online web address: www.millerfuneralhomeinc 


Regretfully we announce the passing of The Reverend Jeremiah January, Retired Itinerant Elder serving in both the Third and the Fourteenth Episcopal Districts and, after his retirement, served as an Associate Minister at Lee Chapel, Cincinnati. He leaves to mourn his passing (wife) Mrs. Thelma January, 9 children and a host of family and friends.

Services will be held Saturday, December 20, 2014

Viewing at 10:00 a.m.
Home Going Service at 11:00 am

Lee Chapel AME Church
2009 Pogue Ave.
Cincinnati, OH. 45208

Telephone:  (513) 871-5885
Fax:  (513) 871-5331
The Reverend Kevin Cooper, Pastor

Condolences can be sent to:
Mrs. Thelma January
C/o Lee Chapel A.M.E. Church
2009 Pogue Ave.
Cincinnati, OH. 45208

Final Arrangements Entrusted to
Thompson, Hall & Jordan Funeral Homes
11400 Winton Rd.
Cincinnati, OH 45240

Telephone: (513)742-3600
Fax: (513) 674-2467

Please remember the family in your prayers.


Regretfully we announce the passing of Stanley Godhigh, the brother of The Reverend Eugene Godhigh, Pastor of Christ Our Redeemer, Cincinnati, OH, brother-in-law of Mrs. Clara Godhigh, President of the South Ohio Conference WMS, and uncle of The Reverend Michele Godhigh, Pastor of Wayman Chapel, Hillsboro, OH.

Services will be held Thursday, December 18, 2014

Viewing at 11:00 a.m.
Home Going Service at 12:00 noon

President Drive Church of Christ
3671 President Drive
Cincinnati Ohio 45225

Condolences may be sent to:
The Rev. Eugene Godhigh
6147 Hedge Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45213

Final Arrangements Entrusted to
Walker Funeral Home
1013 E. McMillan St.
Cincinnati Ohio 45206
Phone:  513-251-6200
Fax:  (800)307-7621


We regret to inform you of the passing of Reverend Andrew Dawkins, a retired pastor of the 9th Episcopal District.  

Celebration of Life:
Reverend Andrew Dawkins
Monday, December 15, 2014
12:00 Noon
Saint John’s AME Church
807 Madison Avenue
Montgomery, Alabama  36104

The Reverend James E. Arnell, Pastor
The Reverend Margaret D. Graham, Eulogist
(334) 265-4136 (Church Office)
(334) 263-9615 (Fax)

Professional Services Entrusted to:
Ross Clayton Funeral Home
1412 Adams Avenue
Montgomery, Alabama  36104
(334) 262-3889 (Office)
(334) 262-3898 (Fax)

Condolences may be sent to:

Saint John’s AME Church
807 Madison Avenue
Montgomery, Alabama  36104


Ross Clayton Funeral Home
1412 Adams Avenue
Montgomery, Alabama  36104

We regret to inform you of the passing of Johnny Lee Gunn, the brother of the Reverend Wallace Gunn, pastor of Saint James AME Church, Covington, Kentucky.

Johnny Lee Gunn passed on Thursday, December 11, 2014.

Funeral Arrangements:
Funeral, Saturday, December 20, 2014, 11:00 a.m.
Galilee Baptist Church
3753 Carver Avenue
Birmingham, Alabama 35221

Services are entrusted to:
Arrington Funeral Home
520 Cotton Avenue S.W.
Birmingham, Alabama 35211

Telephone: 205-786-6288
Fax: 205-786-2050

Expressions of sympathy may be sent to the funeral home, information above, or emailed to: wgunn@twc.com (Reverend Wallace Gunn).

Or to:

The Reverend Wallace Gunn, Pastor
St James AME Church
120 Lynn Street
Covington, Kentucky 41011
Phone: (859) 261-8822


We are sadden by the passing of Brother Clyde Hunter, father of Presiding Elder Cordell E. Hunter, Sr., Eastern District, Baltimore Conference and son of the late Rev. Murray Hunter who served as pastor in the 6th Episcopal District for almost five decades.  A Celebration of Life Service for Clyde Hunter will be held in New York.

Please keep the Presiding Elder Hunter and the Hunter family in your prayers.

Send words of comfort to:

Presiding Elder Cordell Hunter
1398 Willshire Drive
Aberdeen, MD 21001

Telephone: (410) 273-0424


The Fourth Episcopal District sorrowfully announces the passing of the Rev. Keith M. Lemmons, brother of Presiding Elder H. Michael Lemmons, Michigan Conference.

The services for the Rev. Keith M. Lemmons are as follows:


Monday, December 22, 2014
4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Swanson's Funeral Home
14751 West Nichols Blvd.
Detroit, MI 38235

Funeral Service:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Family Hour: 10:30 am - 11:00 am
Service: 11:00 am
Ebenezer AME Church
5151 W. Chicago Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48204

The Rev. Dr. Mickarl D. Thomas, Sr., Pastor

Expressions of sympathy should be mailed to:

The Rev. Dr. H. Michael Lemmons
17491 Mt. Vernon
Southfield, MI 48075


We regret to inform you of the passing of William Timothy Thomas, Jr., brother of the Rev. Deborah Dennie, PhD, retired Itinerant Elder at New Tyler AME Church, Memphis, Tennessee.

Service arrangements for William Timothy Thomas, Jr:

Visitation Friday, December 19, 2014, 5-7 p.m.

Funeral Saturday, December 20, 2014, 11 a.m.

Bethlehem Baptist Church
8801 Bethuel Rd.
Millington, TN 38053

Telephone: (901) 872-7929

Services are entrusted to:

Jefferson Mortuary
7788 Church St.
Millington, Tennessee

Telephone: (901) 872-8800

Expressions of sympathy may be sent to:

The Rev. Dr. Deborah Dennie
3294 Harris Avenue
Memphis, Tennessee 38111

Telephone: (901) 289-6014


We are saddened to announce the death of Mr. Elton Keith Farmer, brother of the Rev. Dewey and the Rev. Derrick Farmer.  Please keep the family in your prayers.

The funeral arrangements are:

Visitation Friday Dec. 19, 2014 5 - 7: p.m. at the Westside Funeral Home, Tabor City, North Carolina

Homegoing Service Saturday December 20, 2014 at 12:00 p.m.
New Light AME Church
Tabor City, N.C.

Words of comfort can be sent to:

The Rev. Dewey Farmer
4052 Joe Brown Hwy. North
Whiteville, NC  28472

Telephone: (910) 840-2293

The Rev. Derrick Farmer
580 Ramsay Ford Rd.
Nakina, NC  28455

Telephone: (910) 840-7295

Westside Funeral Home
Fax number: (910) 653-4742

The Rev. Derrick Farmer: derrickmfarmer@yahoo.com  


We regret to inform you of the passing of Mrs. Cheryl Bivins of Valdosta, Georgia.  Mrs. Bivins entered into eternal rest on Tuesday, December 16, 2014.

Mrs. Bivins is the wife of Mr. Winston Bivins, the sister of the Rev. Carolyn E. Brailsford and sister-in-law of the Rev. Dr. Ronnie E. Brailsford, Sr., pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Columbia, SC, Columbia District, Columbia Annual Conference of the Seventh Episcopal District of the AME Church.

Celebration of Life for Mrs. Bivins:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014
11:00 a.m.
Pentecostal House of Prayer
311 E. Central Avenue
Valdosta, GA 31601

Services Entrusted to:

Godfrey Funeral Home
636 River St.
Valdosta, GA 31601
(229) 242-9500

Condolences may be sent to:

The Rev. Dr. Ronnie and the Rev. Carolyn Brailsford, Sr.
300 Garvey Circle
Columbia, SC 29203

Telephone: (803) 834-3294


Funeral services for Ms. Vernice Harris, mother of Dr. Clifford L. Harris, General Secretary of the Department of Lay Ministry, are as follows:

Family Viewing:  Sunday, December 21, 2014, 2:00 p.m.
Public Viewing: Sunday December 21, 2014, 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. 
Bigelow Funeral Directors 
1414 North Norfolk Avenue 
Tulsa, OK  74106  
Telephone:  918-592-2233

Homegoing Celebration:  Monday, December 22, 2014, 11:00 a.m.
St. John A.M.E. Church
1845 North Peoria Avenue 
Tulsa, OK   74106

Funeral Arrangements Entrusted to:
Biglow Funeral Directors 
1414 North Norfolk Avenue 
Tulsa, OK  74106  
Telephone:  918-592-2233

Cards and condolences can be sent to the Harris family at 1619 North Atlantic Court, Tulsa, OK   74110.

Please continue to keep Dr. Harris, his wife Johnetta and the Harris family in your prayers.

In His Service, 

Bishop Bobby R. Best
Presiding Prelate of the Ninth Episcopal District 

Bishop Marvin F. Thomas, Sr.
Presiding Prelate of the Second Episcopal District 
Chair, General Department of Lay Ministry

Dr. Jeanette L. Bouknight
Executive Secretary
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
"The Investment Factor: A Changed People, Changing the World"


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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