THE CHRISTIAN RECORDER ONLINE ENGLISH EDITION (05/27/16)
The Reverend Dr. Johnny
Barbour, Jr., Publisher
The Reverend Dr. Calvin H.
Sydnor III, the 20th Editor, The
Quadrennial Session of the General Conference, July 6-13, 2016
Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
-- Massacre of
Emanuel 9, June 17
TCR EDITORIAL – PRESIDING ELDERS BEAR SIGNIFICANT BLAME:
The Reverend Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III
The 20th Editor of The Christian
I am sure most of
us have heard various reasons why some local churches are low-performing or
ineffective. We have looked at local church officers, parishioners and pastors
and now it’s time to look at another leadership component of local churches –
Let’s take a look at presiding elders
elders are often viewed as “money collectors” because they collect the funds
for the general budget, pastors’ annuity payments, subscription funds for the
various periodicals, the pre and closing offerings for the annual conference,
and for the various connectional, annual and episcopal district projects
meetings. If there is a special offering that needs to be collected, the
presiding elder is the bearer of that news.
It is easy to understand how clergy and parishioners get the notion that
a presiding elder's main function is as
a money collector.
elders also conduct quarterly conferences and much of the business of the
quarterly conference involves accounting of funds. In some quarterly
conferences, a donation is collected for the presiding elder.
some presiding elders appear to have little or no say about the annual
conference pastoral appointments and pastors and the people know that their
presiding elder has little or no input into the pastoral appointments, which
diminishes the perception of the power of the position. Some presiding elders
are open and upfront about their lack of input in the pastoral appointment
the interim of the annual conference, some presiding elders are only seen at
the quarterly and district conferences, Sunday School Convention, the annual
conference, planning meeting and mid year meeting and all of those have a
collection of funds component. If there
is a Christmas party, there is
another collection of funds component, as
is a birthday celebration. So,
it is easy to see how clergy and parishioners can get a skewed perception of
are struggling and unfortunately, presiding elders may not be in a position to
assist with funds or strategies. So, the only interaction with presiding elders
involves the collecting of funds.
am not certain if presiding elders perceive themselves as middle managers, but
that’s what they are – middle managers and middle managers are important to any
organization if they are empowered and utilized to the fullest extent of their
abilities. The presiding eldership should not be a catch-all appointment for
itinerant elders for which bishops can’t find suitable pastoral appointments;
that used to be the perception.
itinerant elders who have been stellar master pastors should be elevated to the
presiding eldership. They should be empowered to do the work of a middle
are middle managers and their ministry is extremely important and it is
imperative that they understand all of their duties, but it is also important
that they, and the bishop understand their most important task.
funds for the connectional budget or apportionment is a necessary part of the
job. It is an important part of the presiding elder ministry, but it is not the
most important part of their responsibilities, because somebody else could do
that task or the Postal Service could be an excellent “vehicle” for collecting
funds. Any preacher on the district could be tasked with collecting and
collating the funds for the annual conference.
is important for the presiding elder to know all of his or her pastors and
possess detailed information about each charge in his or her district.
It is important because, in a perfect world, the presiding elder makes
recommendations to the bishop concerning the pastoral appointments. Making
recommendations about pastoral appointments is an extremely important part of a
presiding elder's ministry because they are so closely connected with the lives
of pastors and their families. Presiding elders have to “know” and be
intimately aware of a pastor’s ministry, gifts and graces and what’s best for
the local church. A presiding elder’s relationship with his or her pastors is
important. We certainly don’t want to think that a presiding elder is making
recommendations on pastoral appointments based upon insufficient data or an
“old boy" or “old girl” network. Getting to know and analyze a
pastor’s performance takes time, wisdom and a bit of godly judgment.
elders need to be fair and impartial with those for whom they have supervisory
responsibility. “Fair and impartial" is
also an attribute needed by presiding elders. When they are elevated to the
presiding eldership, they cease to be “one of the guys” or “one of the girls.”
The presiding eldership is a sacred office and should be treated as such. A
person appointed to be a presiding elder should possess professional acumen and
the highest moral and ethical standards.
biggest and most important job of the presiding elder or any middle manager in
any profession is that of leading and managing subordinates and providing
resources; and in the case of ministry, providing resources for the pastoral
a pastor says, “Elder I do not have my budget assessments,"
it is not the job of the presiding elder to “run” to the bishop and
“squeal” on the pastor and recommend that the pastor be removed from that
pastoral assignment and it is not for the elder to bad-mouth the pastor.
work or ministry of middle managers, read “presiding elders,” is to
provide guidance; and more importantly, resources. If a pastor says, “Elder I
do not have my budget assessments” or discloses some other shortcoming, that’s
when a presiding elder starts “earning his or her salary.” The presiding elder
sits with the pastor and together they strategize a plan to resolve the
problem. A presiding elder, having been a successful master pastor, is expected
to have pastoral experience that a local pastor might not have. Middle managers
provide resources; if not money, pastoral expertise. Presiding elders need to
“bring something to the plate.” They should see their mission as assisting
pastors to navigate through the “sunshine” and the “storms” of the ministry.
presiding elder should be available to the preachers on his or her district
because the presiding eldership is a ministry of leadership and management.
elders are not counselors, they are supervisors. Every pastor should have a
personal counselor, but it cannot be the presiding elder. The presiding elder
and pastor relationship should be a professional supervisor/subordinate
My advice to
a supervisor, visit your pastors other than when you hold a quarterly
conference. You can’t make an intelligent recommendation on whether a pastor
should be transferred based upon what you observe at a quarterly conference. If
you have an office or a study, provide times that your pastors can visit you.
Presiding elders should have posted schedules when pastors can schedule
presiding elders hold quarterly conferences, they should understand that they
are not conducting an annual conference. Presiding elders do not need to give
“a sermon” on every topic that comes up at the quarterly conference. Do the
business of the quarterly conference, give the benediction and let the people
go home. A quarterly conference need not be longer than an hour or so.
elders should not engage in frivolous telephone or email conversations with the
parishioners of their pastors because that’s called “pastoral interference.”
elders need to learn to use the computer. Learn to use technology, you just
might get to the point that you can hold quarterly conference telephonically –
would be easier for you and for your pastors and the local congregation; and
you just might have more participation and free up some of your time to make presiding
elder visits to the churches on the district.
some prayer times with your pastors.
Call your pastors and pray for them telephonically. I have had several
bishops to call and pray for me telephonically and their prayers were so
important to me.
elders should plan social events with their pastors and their families. Plan a
luncheon or dinner social with just your pastors. Make it a social event, not a
business meeting. And, guess what? A lot
of business will be unofficially accomplished.
elders should be trainers and mentors (not pastoral counselors) – teach, train
and train some more, but don’t try to do it all at the quarterly conference.
“sins” of a presiding elder and mistakes to be avoided
presiding elder who is long-winded, holds long Quarterly Conferences, gives long-winded speeches at his or her
district conference, and the same at the Sunday School Convention; talking
about things of (in) which very few folks are interested, especially
when they are ready to go home.
The presiding elder who tries to “pastor” churches in his or her district,
especially the churches where he or she served as a previous pastor.
The presiding elder who interferes in the affairs of local churches on his or her
district and who interferes with the local church pastor’s relationship with
the pastor’s ministerial staff.
The presiding elder who uses the phrase, “With the power invested in me…”
especially when confirming stewards and who fails to have the members of the
quarterly conference to vote to confirm the stewards.
The presiding elder who doesn’t treat all pastors and churches equally and
favors certain pastors and churches over others.
The presiding elder who does not have the courage to recommend to the bishop in
writing that an ineffective pastor that needs to be reassigned to another
charge; or who fails to inform the bishop the “marriage” of a local church and
a pastor just doesn’t fit and impedes ministry.
The presiding elder who does not have the courage to stand up for a pastor in a
situation where the presiding elder thinks that a pastor should not be moved;
but who the bishop thinks should be moved.
The presiding elder who is just the collector of funds, and who fails to mentor
and teach the clergy and laity on the district.
The part-time presiding elder who fails to do a fulltime presiding elder
ministry, fails to hold quarterly conferences in every church and circuit
“every three months, four times a year” and fails to visit all of the charges
on his or her presiding elder district.
The presiding elder who fails to determine the efficiency of each pastor, the
effectiveness of the ministry of each church, and who fails to give proper
direction to all the affairs of all of the churches in his or her presiding
The presiding elder who thinks that he or she is a bishop and mimics the
behavior and demeanor of the bishop when he or she conducts quarterly
conferences; and when he or she presides at his or her district conference and
Sunday School Convention.
The presiding elder who maintains inappropriate relationships with lay members
on his or her presiding elder district, especially those who “milk” information
about pastors and the local church.
The presiding elder who serves part-time, does not maintain office hours and/or
fails to provide professional and ecclesiastical advice to the pastors in his
or her district.
The presiding elder whose business cards have a P.O. Box, rather than a home or
office address. A post office box tells people that you don’t visit, but don’t
mind receiving a gift in the mail.
The presiding elder who has not taken the time to learn how to use a computer
and who refuses or is unable to submit electronic reports to the bishop and to
the connectional departments.
The presiding elder who has not taken the time to be proficient about the
contents in The Doctrine and Discipline - AMEC.
The presiding elder who fails to fellowship with the ministers on his or her
district and who fails to have social functions, which allow the presiding
elder and ministers to get to know one another more intimately and form deeper
relationships that precipitate increased morale.
The presiding elder who is a “taker” and not a “giver”; who receives gifts, but
doesn’t give gifts.
2. TCR OP-ED -
“DISCUSS AND DEBATE” - TOWARD A BALANCED CONVERSATION:
Response to “The Church and the Transgender Debate” by the Rev. Dr. C. Dennis
In his TCR
Op-Ed entitled, “The Church and the Transgender Debate,” the Rev. Dr. C. Dennis
Williams helpfully calls the AME Church to “discuss and debate” matters of
sexual orientation and gender identity, but he frames this call in a way that
invites a repetition of previous mistakes that have been made when these
matters have surfaced for dialogue.
To date, the AME Church has not acknowledged
four important facts:
There are Christian perspectives on sexual
orientation and gender identity that include and affirm people whose sexual
orientation and gender identity do not fit into heterosexual, cisgender
There are lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender, queer, quare, and same gender loving people – clergy and lay,
chaste, dating, and married – in the AME Church.
We fail to engage in careful readings of
scriptures that we think apply to contemporary questions of sexual orientation
and gender identity. We use, “the Bible
says” as a "cane and a club."
We must adjust our belief system to embrace
the physical reality and scientific fact that we, the human species, are more
than male and female.
Just as the church had to adapt its
cosmology when it could no longer defend the earth as cubicle, the earth as the
hub around which the universe and heavens revolved, or the earth’s moon as the
light of our night, so too, there is sufficient evidence for us to be able to
say with a certainty that G*d [God] created more than male and female. Research shows, one of every 100 children
born has genitalia that neither matches the standard male nor female.
Refusing to engage these facts risks an
abnegation of the distinct obligation that people of African descent have to
the most vulnerable among us. The fact
that only .3% of the United States population reports as transgender is a poor
reason not to defend that population. If
anything, this small percentage is a reason to protect this population. Surely, I am not the first person to pastor
or teach people of minority sexual orientations and gender identities and
wonder how they survive church. The
church cannot afford to legislate ignorance and bigotry. Some denominations struggle and/or split over
questions of sexual orientation and gender identity; a few denominations take,
what I believe is, a holy and prophetic stand, opening up their doors and
making a way for the full participation of all G*d’s children.
I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my
brethren, ye have done it unto me. Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it
not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting
punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. – Matthew 25:40b, 45b-46
The Rev. Jennifer S. Leath, Ph.D
Itinerant Elder, First Episcopal District
Assistant Professor of Religion and Social
Iliff School of Theology (Denver, CO)
3. TCR OP-ED - TIME FOR A
*The Rev. Velma E. Grant, M.Div., Th.M
The Church should be the one place where
individuals should experience equitable treatment, where equal opportunity
should reign, and the place where those who have accepted Jesus Christ as
Savior can utilize their gifts and skills to the glory of God. I am wondering
if the present model of hierarchy needs to be re-evaluated in order to make the
Church the vehicle for an individual to become their best divine self.
Two recent Facebook postings provided
"food for thought" and left me wondering whether the A.M.E. Church is
squandering intellectual or spiritual resources (a term coined by a dear sister
colleague). One posting lamented the absence of any young adult preacher during
the opportune preaching times as noted on the agenda for the 2016 General
Conference. After reviewing the agenda, I concluded that the author of the post
was correct for pointing out the omission, not as a means of chastisement, but
perhaps as a way to suggest that in the future there should be an intentional
effort to include the various segments of the Church’s demographics.
The demographics of the African Methodist
Episcopal Church boasts qualified females and males across the age spectrum and
perhaps another model outside of tradition needs to be utilized to embrace the
gifts and skills throughout the Church. Granted that there are young adult
preachers scheduled to preach and participate at other times throughout the
General Conference, the Facebook poster was correct in sharing that there
should have been more inclusivity as to younger preachers. While I am writing,
let me add that there should have been more inclusivity of women as well (still
grateful for the lone female listed on the main agenda). At this point, I am
speculating that seniority and tradition were the driving forces to determine
the choice of preachers, my speculation might be incorrect, but if it is
correct perhaps, it is time for a change or time for a new method of selection
The other noted Facebook post was in regards
to the perceived control yielded by a prominent family in our Zion or the preferential
treatment afforded those who have family ties within our Zion. Many families
can trace their roots, ministries, and active participation within the African
Methodist Episcopal Church for several generations. That is indeed a historic
feat worth honoring, appreciating, and celebrating throughout the life of the
Church, but there should still be room for those who cannot trace their
generational roots to serve, thrive, and receive equitable treatment.
The divine vineyard is vast enough to
accommodate the skills, and gifts of all who choose to serve God within the
African Methodist Episcopal Church, and while some families might have built
dynasties and excluded “newcomers” there are others who have proven by their
mission and inclusivity that the family of Christ is not determined by
biological ties or bonds. Our entrance into the pearly games will not be
predicated upon our biological genes or surname, but it will be determined by
an individual’s love for and, commitment to God of which ministry and works are
there are family dynasties that determine leadership opportunities and
appointments, where inept individuals are given opportunities solely based on
family ties and not gifts, or skills then the Church is squandering its physical
and spiritual resources. The Church would be squandering such resources by not
utilizing the gifts and talents of others who are ready and willing to serve
the Church but denied or locked out of certain leadership opportunities because
of family dynasties. Again, let me reiterate that there are generational
families that have worked hard, are qualified and willing to serve in any
capacity within our Church, and those family models are worth emulating.
It is also time to change the tradition of
punishing individuals for speaking out against the status quo; it is time to
change the tradition of isolating individuals who seemingly pledge allegiance
to one individual or camp to the chagrin of another individual or camp. It is
time to change the tradition of punishing some and favoring others (although
sometimes one might not even know that one is being punished) when it comes to
assignments and positions in the Church.
time to change the tradition of burdening pastors with their individual
pastoral assignments and saddling on the cumbersome duties of serving on
several committees simultaneously. There has to be a more efficient way to
spread the duties and responsibilities of making the A.M.E Church a progressive
body without some feeling that their authority is being usurped or without
The AME Church is bigger than any one
individual, family, group, or camp and we need to ensure that the gifts,
talents, and skills that are prevalent in our Zion are recognized and utilized
for the benefit of all within our Church and community. As we move, towards the
2016 General Conference let us make an effort to change the traditions that
hinder our Zion, and embrace the demographic gifts, talents and skills that
will promote the growth and progress of our Church.
*The Rev. Velma E. Grant, M.Div., Th.M is
the Associate Pastor of First Saint Paul AME Church, Lithonia, Georgia
4. READER RESPONSE TO EDITORIAL AND OTHER ISSUES:
5. NEWS AROUND THE AME CHURCH:
-- The Latest:
Portrait to be unveiled of slain church pastor
Latest: Portrait to be unveiled of slain church pastor...
-- The portrait was
unveiled Wednesday. It shows Sen. Clementa Pinckney in his beloved Emanuel
African Methodist Episcopal Church, hand on a pew...
6. GOSPEL INDUSTRY
LEGENDS TEAM TOGETHER IN A CLASSIC TRIBUTE TO MOTHER EMANUEL AME CHURCH:
recognition of the first anniversary of the unfortunate occurrence at Mother
Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina, gospel legend Shirley Caesar has
teamed with legendary gospel Grammy Winning producer, Sanchez Harley birthing
an ageless musical tribute to Mother Emanuel Church and the families of its
nine members who lost their lives last year when Dillon Roof, attending their
bible study, drew a weapon and took the lives of nine precious souls.
composition, appropriately titled "Mother Emanuel" has all the
ingredients of a classic. It was co-written by the daughter of legendary gospel
writer Dottie Rambo, Reba McGuire, Chip Davis, one of Nashville's most gifted
seasoned writers, and former Christian music executive, Donnie McGuire.
Davis, inspired the night of the event, was the catalyst in the songs creation.
After presenting the concept to his co-writers and completing the song, chip
reached out to Sanchez who immediately felt that Pastor Caesar should hear it.
She fell in love with the composition and urged her company, e-one
entertainment to make it a part of her current release.
by Jacqui Whittmon Turner, a 10-year member of Aretha Franklin's band, the work
is quite visual and emotionally charged as the message speaks against hate and
song will be available on Pastor Caesars forthcoming project scheduled for
release on June 2, 2016, by eOne
7. THE AGENDA FOR
THE 50TH QUADRENNIAL SESSION OF THE GENERAL CONFERENCE:
Agenda for the General Conference is now available.
unable to attend 50th Quadrennial of General Conference in Person become a virtual observer!
TRANSPORTATION AT THE GENERAL CONFERENCE:
you are traveling into Philadelphia for the 50th Quadrennial Session
of the General Conference of the AME Church and booking transportation, please take
advantage of the 20% discount from Delaware Express. This discount applies to
online orders, made in advance.
booking your ground transportation, please visit www.delexpress.com and use Group Code: 273186. You may also contact Gerry at Delaware
Express by calling (302)-454-7800, Ext. 610 or via email at email@example.com
by the Reverend Steve Lewis, Chair, Transportation Committee, First Episcopal
District AME Church, Host of the 50th Quadrennial Session of the General
Conference of the AME Church
the members of Allen AME Church, Tacoma, Washington
-- A Fitting End to
Black History Month 2016
February 27, 2016, Allen AME Church Tacoma WA celebrated by unveiling a
memorial to the victims and survivors in the Bible Study room that tragic night
in June of 2015 at Mother Emanuel AME Church. The wall in the entry way of
Allen AME is a beautiful permanent structure dedicated to the 9 victims and the
3 survivors in the room during the hail of gunfire. The structure is made
entirely of glass it stands 10 feet tall by 9 feet wide produced by the Museum
memorial is designed with 9 glass teardrops each with the name of a person who
died and 3 hearts each with the name of the survivor in the room except the
minor who was in the room during this horrendous encounter, the name is
replaced with the word “Youth.” When asked about why the word youth was used,
Pastor Anthony Steele replied, “It was important first not to leave it blank
because there was a very young person who was actually there that night that I
did not want us to forget.” Pastor Steele went on to say, “This particular
heart with the word Youth on it, also represents the many young people across
our nation that endure senseless gun violence every day.”
glass memorial at Allen AME Tacoma was unveiled by Mother Emanuel AME survivors
Felicia Sanders and Polly Sheppard along with Pastor Anthony Steele, Tacoma
Mayor Marilyn Strickland, U.S. Congressman Derek Kilmer, Pastor Edgar Boyd of
First AME Los Angeles, Pastor Timothy Tyler of Shorter AME Denver, and host of
lead pastors from around the 5th Episcopal District of the AME Church. There
were a number of media outlets, community leaders, and church members in
Steele served as the host for the affair and giving insight to the hundreds in
attendance of how the memorial was God inspired and the miracles of working
together made all of it possible. So many of the people were riveted by the
words of Felicia Sanders after the unveiling as she said with tears in her
eyes, “You will never know how much we appreciate your love for doing this.”
Felicia went on to say about how appropriate the title “Forgive” was for this
piece. As she looked at the glass memorial, she could hear her son Tywanza’s
words from that night of the tragedy toward the gunman, “Why are you doing
this, we mean you no harm.”
day continued with a Black Tie Dinner at the University of Washington hosted by
Allen AME Church Tacoma in honor of the survivors Polly Sheppard and Felicia
Sanders. The Lieutenant Governor of Washington Brad Sanders and Bishop T. Larry
Kirkland were in attendance. Scholarships for high school students were handed
out and other awards for area honorees in building resources in the Black
Community. The Reverend Edgar Boyd of First AME, Los Angeles delivered a soul
stirring and thought provoking keynote address.
evening was capped off with Bishop Kirkland being joined on stage with Pastor
Anthony Steele and a host of Pastors and Lay leaders from the AME church with
the survivors Polly Sheppard and Felicia Sanders. The ladies were presented
with statues that read “We shall never forget you, love, The AME Church”. The
program was completed on the stage with the survivors surrounded by Bishop
Kirkland and the AME Church contingency. Polly and Felicia finished with the
tearful words, before a packed audience, “You all will never know just how much
this means to us. Thank you so much.”
10. THE TRUTH IS THE LIGHT
Dr. Charles R. Watkins
Biblical text: Mark 10:17-18: And when he
was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and
asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And
Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that
Our text from
Gospel of Mark is the story of a sad encounter between Jesus and a rich, young
man. This young man was challenged to take inventory of his faith.
organizations take an inventory of their stock, at least annually, to assess
the true value of their assets. The inventory process normally is in at least
three distinct phases. There is a count performed to determine the amount of
finished goods in the warehouse. Next a value is set on all the materials in
the plant that are used to create the finished products. Finally, an assessment
is made to determine the value of land and equipment. The second phase
determines “goods in process” and the final stage is capital assets. The sum total of the physical inventory,
assessment of materials used and value of land and equipment represents the
inventory is a tedious process that involves climbing, counting and digging in
order to make absolutely sure every “thig-a-ma-jig” and every “do-hickie” is
counted. It is however a very worthwhile and necessary undertaking as it is the
only way to determine true value. The inventory is complete when leadership
receives a financial report of the company’s worth. The final report is
considered very valuable as it can be used to prove net worth when needed to
secure loans, borrowing against the company’s value.
In our text we
find the rich young man trying to borrow against the value of his faith. He
wanted a guarantee that he would inherit eternal life. Jesus challenged him to
take inventory of his faith to determine if he had sufficient assets to make
the withdrawal on judgment day. The final assessment shows that the man
actually came up short, merely posing as a man of faith, having a flaw in his
relationship with God. In other words the man had insufficient “faith assets.”
The man’s faith
lacked hope. By addressing Jesus as ‘Good Master”, the same courteous title
everyone gave to all the religious teachers, we see that the man did not believe
Jesus was the awaited Messiah. The man lacked a repentant heart. He already
thought he was perfect. The man revealed his unrepentant position, replying
“Master, all these have I observed from my youth.” In essence, he was telling
Jesus he was already ‘walking the walk’.
We cannot be
too hard on this man. The truth of the matter is the man is very much like folk
we know. He is like the many Christians who think they don’t have to come to
church every Sunday, or study the Word of God with their church family, or pray
at the prayer service. They don‘t think they have to, because in their mind,
they’re already perfect.
When we begin
to think our relationship with God is perfect, it is time to take inventory.
When we have convinced ourselves we have done all we need to do to inherit
eternal life, it’s time to take inventory. When we begin to think we are
already walking the walk it is time to dust off our spiritual shelves and
assess the commitments we have cast off, the projects we have not completed and
the ministries we have left unattended.
It is easy to
appear to be perfect. However, Jesus knows the real deal, the real us. He knows
our heart. He already knows if we have taken an honest inventory of our faith.
*The Reverend Dr. Charles R. Watkins, Jr., is the pastor of Morris Brown
AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina
Rev. Dr. Oveta Fuller is currently on Sabbatical leave from the University of
Michigan and is currently in Africa and will submit her column as her schedule
SCHOOL LESSON BRIEF FOR SUNDAY, MAY 29, 2016 - JOYOUS
FAITH - DR. LUKE 19:1-10:
Key Verse: The Son of Man came to seek and save the
is filled with examples of people and institutions that make remarkable
change. The late Charles Colson is
remembered in his latter years as an articulate spokesperson for Jesus. Prior to his conversion Mr. Colson was a key
advisor and architect of the rise and fall of former U.S. President Richard
Millhouse Nixon. Colson was once quoted
as saying he would “walk over my own grandmother” to ensure the reelection of
President Richard M. Nixon. After
spending years incarcerated for his crimes related to Watergate, he went on to
found a worldwide prison fellowship ministry after his conversion to
S. Lewis is arguably one of the greatest intellectual thinkers of the 20th
century. Prior to his prolific writings
in children's literature and lay Christian scholarship like Mere Christianity, the Oxford don was a
leading voice of atheism.
of behavior is reflected in the Holy Writ.
Perhaps the most famous change was that of Paul. Paul's "Damascus Road" experience
illustrates how we can go from persecutor of the Gospel to promulgator of the
Adult AME Church School Lesson for May 29, 2016 looks at change from another
unlikely person. The key takeaway is the
same for the prior three changed persons: A close encounter with Jesus will
create change. Let's see how this is
done in Luke's narrative about change.
Bible Lesson -
Challenge, Confession and Compassion
story in Chapter 19 opens with Jesus passing through Jericho. As is typical of Jesus' itinerant ministry
his travels generate large crowds of people anxious to see yet another
miracle. As Jesus continues his journey
a male Jewish observer named Zacchaeus seeks to see the fame of Jesus for
himself. The meaning of the name,
Zacchaeus is “pure.”
know three specific attributes about Zacchaeus:
He is a publican or tax collector, he is rich and he is of short
statue. The last attribute presents a
challenge for Zacchaeus. He desires to
see Jesus, but his near dwarf-like stature prevents him from seeing our Lord
due to the large crowds consisting of people much taller than he.
counteract this challenge Zacchaeus decides to climb a sycamore tree to get a
look from on high and above the crowds.
Jesus notices Zacchaeus' position in the tree and insists that he come
down because he (Jesus) wishes to have dinner at his home. Many in the crowd were astonished that Jesus
would have dinner with a man with such a notorious reputation. Zacchaeus was so thrilled with the thought of
Jesus coming to his home he confesses that he will redistribute any unjust
taxes/fees on those he financially abused upwards to four times the amount! The confession by Zacchaeus demonstrates that
he was sincere about his conversion and is extremely joyous about being with
Jesus. The confession leads to Jesus
showing compassion. In a direct rebuttal
to those who thought the dinner invite was inappropriate, Jesus teaches the
essence of His ministry: “The Son of Man is come to seek and save the
lost.” That includes Zacchaeus!
men who were short didn't let that define who they were or what they were
called to do.
Madison, 4th President of the United States of America and author of
the U.S.A. Constitution, stood at five feet four inches and is still the
shortest President in U.S. history.
Napoleon Bonaparte was a world ruler in the 18th and early 19th
century, even though he was not a tall dominating military ruler.
basketball players like Mugsy Bougues and Nate Robinson have proven the critics
wrong by having long and productive careers even though they are well-under six
feet in height.
short has nothing to do with who you are.
Adjustments can and will be made to compensate for a lack of reach. Tyrion Lannister, cerebral dwarf character in
the HBO TV series, Game of Thrones
epitomizes this point. Much like
Zacchaeus, Tyrion is extremely short and is verbally abused by his family,
friends and foes for his "lack of reach". Despite his apparent handicap, Tyrion commits
to reading, writing and intellectual thought games to keep his enemies at bay.
can use our height either as an excuse for not doing great things or we can do
great things with the talents and abilities endowed by God. Height is overrated. QED
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
13. MEDITATION BASED ON PSALM 90:
Rev. Dr. Joseph A. Darby
I learned today of the
death - after a long and fruitful life - of Dr. Clifford Watkins. I got
to know him when he was the Director - and when I was a member - of the South
Carolina State University Garnet and Blue Marching 101 Band.
Dr. Watkins demanded excellence and never hesitated to “crack the whip”
to achieve it. He knew when to be tough, when to be compassionate and when
to blend strict and demanding obedience with light-hearted joking, teasing and
camaraderie. He was an “old school” HBCU band director, whose
well-crafted half time shows began with precision formations done to classical
music and ended with the band dancing to contemporary music.
Dr. Watkins made the Marching 101 a force to be reckoned with among
black college bands and also achieved what was arguably the Marching 101's
pinnacle achievement - participation in the 1970 Tournament of Roses Parade -
and although he had bad knees, he marched the entire seven mile parade route
along with the band.
I last saw him in 2010, when we celebrated the 40th
anniversary of that parade appearance. He’d gone on to achieve with the
bands at Tennessee State University and North Carolina A&T State University
and had subsequently been slowed down by physical infirmity, but he still had a
sharp mind and was the same Dr. Watkins I know forty years ago - still
Cliff Watkins was one of many special the people who shaped my life,
and I share my memories of him with you in a fast-paced world where it’s easy
for us to forget those who’ve impacted our lives. It’s easy to get caught
up in the pursuit of personal achievement and - if we’re able to achieve - to
relegate the special people we meet down through the years to the dark corners
of our memory and take personal credit for our achievements.
We’d do well, however, to remember the special people that God sends
our way and to honor them and give them due credit as blessings sent from the
Lord to make our lives better. When we do so, we can cherish and
celebrate their lives, let them live on in what we do, and find new
appreciation for the God who, as my ancestors in the faith first sang, “...brought
us from a mighty long way.”
Rest well, Doc - you’ve
earned and deserve that - and I hope you resist the temptation to have heaven’s
angel band “run laps” if they don’t measure up to your standard of excellence!
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
14. PRAYER FOR
COOPERATIVE REPUBLIC OF GUYANA:
from us in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands!
We ask our “Bethel” to join us in prayers for the Cooperative Republic
of Guyana as its people celebrate its fiftieth anniversary as an independent
nation on May 26, 2016. Pray for the
Executive President, the Honorable David Granger and his government, and for
the goodwill and safety of all its people.
Pray also for our AME congregations which have served the nation and
upheld our heritage since 1873.
Hilborn Talbot, S.T.M., D.Min, C.C.H.
15. GENERAL OFFICER AND CLERGY FAMILY CONGRATULATORY ANNOUNCEMENTS:
-- General Officer’s Family Announcement
- Announcing the Birth of
Dennis C. Dickerson III
Dennis C. Dickerson III was born at Baptist Women's Hospital
in Memphis, Tennessee on May 26, 2016 at 2:21 A. M. He was 6 lbs 4
oz. He is the son of US Air Force Chaplain Dianna Nicole Watkins
Dickerson, a member of the ministerial staff of St. James AME Church in
Memphis, and Dennis C. Dickerson, Jr., a Latin teacher at Christian Brothers
High School in Memphis. The Dickerson’s met as students at Vanderbilt Divinity
School where they respectively earned the M.Div. and M.T.S. degrees. The
grandparents are Ms. Jerrie Watkins and Retired General Officer Dennis C.
Dickerson, Ph.D. and Mrs. Mary A. E. Dickerson.
The contact information
for the parents is:
-- The Reverend
Dennis Wilson Broughton, Jr. received
the Doctor of Ministry Degree from United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio
The Commencement Ceremony was held Friday,
May 20, 2016, at the Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church, Dayton, Ohio. Dr.
Broughton received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education
from Allen University, Columbia, South Carolina and a Master of Divinity Degree
from Payne Theological Seminary, Wilberforce, Ohio. He is the pastor of Wayman
Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Sumter, South Carolina. He is the son
of the Late Reverend Dennis Wilson Broughton, Sr. and Mrs. Wilhelmenia
Broughton, former Seventh Episcopal District WMS Treasurer, and currently
Columbia Conference MSWAWO + PK'S President; spouse of Mrs. Wendy Geiger;
brother of Dr. Wilma Broughton, former Episcopal District YWI Coordinator, Big
Mak Chairperson, and Columbia Conference DMC Commissioner; and brother of Ms.
Yvette Broughton of Atlanta, Georgia.
Expressions can be sent to:
-- The Reverend Joretha Wright graduated with a
Masters of Divinity Degree from Payne Theological Seminary
Reverend Joretha Wright, Pastor of St.
John AME Church Tuskegee, Alabama and Wesley Chapel AME Church in Waverley,
Alabama, graduated with a Masters of Divinity from Payne Theological Seminary
on Friday May 20, 2016. The Rev. Joretha Wright is the wife of the Rev. Maurice
Wright, II the Associate Director of MCAM and the pastor of St. John AME Church
in Ft. Mitchell, Alabama.
The Rev. Joretha Wright
1413 Fall Branch Drive
Phenix City, Alabama 36867
-- The Rev. Steven L. Lyons graduated with a
Master of Divinity from Hood Theological Seminary and Mrs. Nikki Walker Lyons
received the Diploma of Funeral Service from Fayetteville Technical Community
Rev. Steven L. Lyons, pastor of St. James AME
Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina graduated with a Master of Divinity
degree from Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury, North Carolina at the
Commencement Exercise held on Saturday, May 21, 2016. His Professional Project
is entitled, "Utilizing the Class Leader System and Official Board to
Develop St. James AME Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina." He
and his wife, Mrs. Nikki Walker Lyons, the Western North Carolina Conference
Branch WMS President, also own and operate the Steven L. Lyons Funeral Home
located in Raleigh, North Carolina. On Friday, May 13, 2016, Mrs. Nikki
Walker Lyons, a graduate of St. Augustine's College, Raleigh, received the
Diploma of Funeral Service from Fayetteville Technical Community College,
expressions can be sent to:
16. CLERGY FAMILY
is with great sadness that we announce news of the passing of the Rev. Dr.
James Nathaniel Hoskins, who served on the ministerial staff at St. James AME
Church in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Hoskins, age 80, a superannuated pastor of the 1st Episcopal District,
relocated to Winston-Salem, NC after retirement.
funeral arrangements are as follows:
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 Noon
may send cards and condolences to:
Sylvia Burts-Hoskins, Wife
L. Lyons Funeral Home
17. CLERGY FAMILY
regret to inform you of the passing of Marlo Deniece Moore, the youngest sister
of Elder Larry S. Hinton, Presiding Elder of the Northern District of the North
Carolina Conference of the 2nd Episcopal District and First Vice President of
the Connectional Presiding Elder’s Council.
Deniece Moore was a resident of Los Angeles. Her Funeral arrangements are as
May 23, 2016 at 11:00 a.m.
will take place one hour prior to services.
are entrusted to:
of Sympathy can be sent to:
Telephone: (919) 359-0575
18. CLERGY FAMILY
regret to inform you of the passing of Mr. Walter C. McNeely, a World War II
Navy Veteran and a key figure in the Brunswick, Georgia - Golden Isles
community for more than 60 years.
was the father of immediate past Connectional WMS Worship Director, Dr. Barbara
E. McNeely-Bouie and the grandfather of PK's, Paula Michelle Bouie, the Rev.
Carla Lorraine Bouie, and Michaela Monique Bouie.
Wake will be held on Friday, May 27, 2016 from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. at the First
African Baptist Church located at 1416 Amherst Street in Brunswick, Georgia.
Celebration of Life Worship Service for Mr. McNeely will be held on Saturday,
May 28, 2016, beginning 11:00 a.m. at the “Greater Works Than These Ministries”
located at 4020 Wylly Ave, Brunswick, GA 31520.
served as the Associate Superintendent and later as interim Superintendent of
the Glynn County Board of Education, a member of the Georgia Department of
Natural Resources Board, Coastal Area District Development Authority, and the
Glynn-Brunswick Hospital Authority. He was also one of the founding members of
the 14 Black Men of Glynn County.
are entrusted to:
Jones, and Brown Mortuary
19. BEREAVEMENT NOTICES AND CONGRATULATORY ANNOUNCEMENTS PROVIDED
Ora L. Easley,
AMEC Clergy Family
CONDOLENCES TO THE BEREAVED FROM THE
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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