THE CHRISTIAN RECORDER ONLINE ENGLISH EDITION (08/27/15)
The Right Reverend T. Larry Kirkland -
Chair, Commission on Publications
The Reverend Dr. Johnny Barbour, Jr.,
The Reverend Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III,
the 20th Editor, The Christian
Thought for the Week: "Nothing
in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious
stupidity.” - MLK, Jr.
1. TCR EDITORIAL – OLD THINGS ARE COMFORTABLE, BUT SOMETIMES WE
NEED TO CONSIDER MAKING A “FASHION STATEMENT”:
20th Editor of The
most comfortable shoes are not stylish. I have several pairs of shoes that are
really comfortable. They don’t look like
much and the heels are turned over, but they are comfortable and “fit like
gloves.” They are comfortable for
walking and absolutely comfortable as driving shoes. I am often encouraged to
throw them away or give them to Goodwill, but I won’t do it because they are so
comfortable. I have a pair of black slippers that are so comfortable that I
have even worn them to church. I can walk in them all day!
have a bathrobe that I inadvertently spilled some bleach on and it has bleach
stains on it and the robe is not a nice looking in terms of appearance, but it
sure is comfortable. I refuse to throw
that bleach-stained robe away.
still have the black shoes I wore in the Army. Goodwill Industries is not
getting those shoes. Not only are the shoes comfortable, but they have a lot of
memories. I have worn those shoes all over Europe, in Korea and Japan, Great
Britain, in Central America and at military installations all over the United
are just some things that I won’t part with because they provide comfort and some
of them have wonderful memories.
have shoes and clothes that I love and refuse to get rid of them. I have clothes and some shoes that no longer
fit, but I refuse to get rid of them because they bring back memories and I am
hopeful that I might be able to fit in them in the future.
are some things I keep because they are comfortable and some I keep because
they bring back warm memories.
are things that I have trouble getting rid of and some things that I refuse to
get rid, but that doesn’t keep me from buying new clothes and new shoes.
don’t just depend on the old things, even though they are comfortable and bring
back fond memories, because I know that I need to be “in tune” with the current
fashion trends, so my wardrobe changes and is periodically updated.
grew up with skinny ties, but then the wide ties came into vogue, so I
purchased wide ties. High water pants for men and then bell-bottom pants came
into style. I adjusted to the changing
guess it’s all a sense of our perceived realities and the willingness to adjust
and readjust our thinking and behavior.
Let me give a few examples
examples I want to share are not necessarily problems, they are conditions as a
result of our mindset. We have to be
futurists and redirect our mindset and thinking.
every statistic I have read in the last 10 years says the fastest growth of the
Christian church is in Africa and South America.
Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan "think tank" that regularly
produces religious and other surveys without taking public policy positions,
says if current trends continue, "... by 2050 …Four out of every 10
Christians in the world will live in sub-Saharan Africa. Interestingly, the Pew
Research Center also reports that Nigeria has more Christians than any other
country except the United States and Brazil.
in the United States, Christians will decline from more than three-quarters of
the population that it had in 2010 to two-thirds in 2050.”
tend to think of the United States as being the “pulse” of Christianity and the
pulse of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
we are to believe the Pew statistics, the comfortable notion of thinking of
Africa as the “mission field” might need some revised thinking. It might be in
the future, America might be the mission field.
General Conference is fast approaching and we hear conversations about whether
or not we are going to elect any Africans (and women) at the 50th Quadrennial
Session of the General Conference.
we decide to keep our old comfortable clothes and shoes, the answer is no. If we continue to think of the United States
as being the pulse of the denomination, again the answer is no.
issue of whether Africans should be elected at the 2016 General Conference got
complicated and convoluted when we approached the 2004 General Conference with
the notion that we needed to elect Africans because Africa needed indigenous
excitedly elected three bishops with the notion that they were indigenous to
Africa and, as I understood it, would serve their episcopacies in Africa.
failed thinking in the “indigenous thing” was forgetting or not knowing that
Africa is a continent and no one person could be indigenous to the whole
continent. There is no African bishop who could be indigenous to Africa;
perhaps indigenous to his (or her) country or region, but not indigenous to the
continent of Africa.
would be like assuming that a person could be indigenous to South America or to
the case of Europe, a German could be indigenous to Germany, a French citizen
could be indigenous to France, an Austrian native citizen could be indigenous
to Austria, but none of them could be indigenous to all of Europe.
the notion of electing Africans because they were indigenous to Africa was a
bogus assumption. If they were elected because they were qualified or whatever,
and they were; that was fine, but not because they were indigenous to the
continent of Africa.
definition of "indigenous" is originating in and characteristic of a
particular region or country; being a member of the original inhabitants of a
particular place; native or original to an area.
person can indigenous to Zimbabwe, indigenous to Swaziland, indigenous to
Liberia, indigenous maybe to west Africa, indigenous to the Congo, indigenous
to Kenya, indigenous to Uganda, indigenous to South Africa (and there might
even be a distinction in South Africa between Johannesburg and the Cape
region); but a person would not be indigenous to all of those countries.
the fastest growth of Christianity is in Africa then the African Methodist
Episcopal Church must position itself to develop indigenous African leadership,
not for the continent of Africa, but for the various regions of Africa.
is not reasonable to say, “We are not going to elect any more Africans” or even
to say, “We are not going to elect a woman.”
old clothes and the old shoes are comfortable, but the old way of doing things
with the men in charge and the Americans in charge was a great way, in years
past, to run the Church; at least for the Americans, but this is a new day.
let me say, upfront, if we are going to survive as a viable religious
organization fulfilling the Mission Statement of the African Methodist
Episcopal Church, we are going to have to readjust our thinking and our
behavior to meet the changing world and the changing demographics. I would be
the first to agree, change is always uncomfortable.
doesn’t seem to me that we can continue to do business as usual if we see
ourselves as a global church. If statistics tell us that the growth of
Christianity is in Africa, hopefully we would want to be a part of that growth
and we need to prepare for the expansion of the AME Church in Africa.
African leadership is needed, but the notion of indigenous African leadership
for Africa is a misnomer.
an example, using the Roman Catholic Church structure, German bishops serve in
Germany, they do not serve in the United States; French bishops serve in
France, they don’t serve in Austria.
Brazilian bishops are not assigned in Argentina, they serve in Brazil.
They are not assigned to a continent; they are assigned within their indigenous
AME Church is a much smaller organization and it might not be practical to
replicate the model of the Roman Catholic Church, but we can and must develop a
model that will work for our Zion.
notion of the so-called “indigenous Africans” serving in Africa for a period of
time and then reassigning them to episcopal districts in the United States is
contrary to the notion of why we elected “indigenous bishops.” The bishops who
were elected under the “indigenous platform” should continue to serve on the
continent of Africa. And at some point, the American bishops should serve in
the United States and a bishop might be elected from the Caribbean area, though
not under the guise of indigenous leadership. The AME Church might need to make
a “fashion statement” as it relates to episcopal appointments.
Do we need indigenous
answer is yes! If we are going to grow
the AME Church in Africa, we need to elect African bishops (note the plural)
who are indigenous to the various regions of Africa. They should not be elected
because they want to eventually serve in the Untied States because they are not
indigenous to the United States. And, on the flip side of that, Africa is not
some poor missionary outpost that needs American colonial leadership; that time
don’t know! The “devil” is always in the
there is one thing I am sure of and that is, we have brilliant minds here in
the United States in Episcopal Districts 1-13 and brilliant minds in our
overseas Episcopal Districts 14-20. If
we work prayerfully together, we can grow the global AME Church to its
Tricentennial celebration in 2116.
can keep some of the comfortable things, but we must be willing to expand our
thinking and be willing to “share the power.” We must be willing to do some
world is changing and we, the AME Church, must be willing to change in ways
that facilitate growth.
The Christian Recorder welcomes TCR
Op-Ed articles; there is more than one side of this issue.
TCR Editor’s note: Will be in Virginia/DC area next week and will
post a modified version of the TCR Online. The regular weekly columns will be
2. READER RESPONSE TO
EDITORIAL AND OTHER ISSUES:
RE: TCR Editorial –
Almost Sixteen Years into the 21st Century and Many are Functioning
as they did in the 20th Century
"You're a revolutionary!
Thank you for adding value and for making access to TCR a reality, especially to us on the African Continent. You've
served the Connection, since your election as TCR Editor, in awesome ways. It will remain indelible in our
memories that you revolutionaries the sharing of news and insights in our beloved
Zion. You're illustrious and I can't agree more with the revolutionary ideas in
Re "Let me say this
again, electronic transfer of funds is more efficient than checks and
cash. I am going to keep preaching this;
the time has passed for pastors to be standing around waiting for their pay
checks each Sunday or a presiding elder to be standing around waiting for his
or her quarterly conference check. Just go to the bank and set up the program
for automatic payment of salaries and even bills. "
Part of the reason is that many of us (churches and individuals)
do not have enough of a balance in the account to have auto payments w/o risk
of having checks bounce for insufficient funds.
It's fine for those able to keep a sufficient cushion to handle
automatic payments, but I believe (rightly or wrongly) that many of our
churches operate on a week-to-week basis just a many of us live
Also, some of us (self included) are simply not yet comfortable
with electronic banking, including auto deposit/auto withdrawal.
When the company for which I worked stopped issuing paychecks, we
were required / forced to use auto deposit.
Those who did not have checking accounts had to have one set up. Sometimes afterwards, I did set up auto
payments for my utilities, but still not have done so for credit cards. I want to be able to check each item before
it writing a check to pay these monthly bills.
Larry W Clark - 3rd Episcopal District - Columbus, Ohio
RE: The Christian Recorder News Break - AMEC
Social Action New Release - The USPS announces the release of the Richard Allen
stamp for the 1st quarter of 2016
speechless and I am rejoicing.....I forwarded this message to Mrs. Yvonne
Studevan, a seventh generation direct descendant of Bishop Allen. She and her
aunt, Mrs. Katharine Dockens are members of First AME Church in Athens,
Lawson, Jr. Professor of History
*Bishop Carolyn Tyler Guidry
have a serious question about lay ministers which is in the discipline about
their duties. Now my question is should they be seated in the pulpit, because I
don't see in the discipline of where they should be placed. In my opinion if
there not ordained they should not be seated in the pulpit in which some are
from some churches in the Third District. Is this under the discretion of the
pastor of the church or is there a rule a lay minster should be seated along
the side of the altar or lectern. Please
advise because this is becoming a problem in some churches. Please keep my name confidential to avoid
Guidry’s Response to the Question:
This one is easy! The Book of Doctrine and
Discipline sets fort the rules for Lay Ministers very clearly! When participating in the worship the Lay
Minister may serve from the "lectern", which is the
"pulpit" in our churches; whether or not they remain seated on the
pulpit or within the altar rail is the decision of the pastor in charge.
a clear picture of the rules for Lay Ministers read pages 110 (F) thru 112 (6)
The office of Lay Ministers is another method of including Lay people in all
functions of the Church. They do not
dress like clergy people, i.e. clergy collar or robes. The privilege to serve is available to all
lay people who desire to participate fully in ministry.
*Retired Bishop Carolyn Tyler Guidry
is the 122nd Elected and Consecrated Bishop of the African Methodist
4. THE USPS ANNOUNCES THE
RELEASE OF THE RICHARD ALLEN STAMP FOR THE 1ST QUARTER OF 2016:
-- The United States Postal Service has announce the release in
2016 of the Richard Allen Postage Stamp
On behalf of the Social Action Commission, Chair, Bishop Reginald
Jackson and former chair, Bishop Carolyn Tyler Guidry, we thank the faithful
and loyal members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and
petition-signers across the globe for all that you did to help make this vision
a reality. The successful outcome of this effort is the result of all of us who
prayed, signed petitions, etc., but we owe a special debt of gratitude of
thanks to AME, Vernon E. Jordan and Rodney Slater for their unequalled
assistance, steadfastness, and tithing of time and talent!
The 2016 forever stamp in the Black Heritage series will
commemorate preacher, activist and civic leader Richard Allen (1760-1831). The
stamp, in a pane of 20, coincides with the 200th anniversary of Allen’s
founding of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.
Ms. Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, AMEC Social Action Commission
Bishop Reginald Jackson, AMEC Social Action Commission Chair
The Rev. Melvin Wilson, Presiding Elder of Brooklyn-Westchester
District and Director of Stewardship & Leadership Development of the New
York Annual Conference wrote, "Here is the challenge: We have to buy the
stamp, request the stamp and use the stamp REGULARLY. Not only this stamp, but the Rosa Parks
stamp. If we don't request or use these
stamps, they will be removed from circulation.
That's the truth. Please share this all over."
5. LEE CHAPEL AME CHURCH
DEDICATORY SERVICE THIS SUNDAY:
The Rev. Roderick D. Belin, the Officers and Members of Lee Chapel
African Methodist Episcopal Church invite you to attend the Dedicatory Service
of the new Church Building, 1200 Dr. D. B. Todd Boulevard, Nashville, TN 37208
on Sunday, August 30,2015, 4:00 p.m.
The Rev. Roderick Dwayne Belin
6. SEPTEMBER 6TH
- CONFESSION, REPENTANCE AND COMMITMENT TO END RACISM SUNDAY:
-- “Liberty and Justice for
Please join in solidarity on Sunday, September 6th as
we worship worldwide recognizing: “Confession,
Repentance and Commitment to End Racism Sunday”
Racism will not end with the passage of legislation alone; it will
also require a change of heart and thinking. This is an effort which the faith
community must lead, and be the conscience of the nation. We will call upon
every church, temple, mosque and faith communion to make their worship service
on this Sunday a time to confess and repent for the sin and evil of racism,
this includes ignoring, tolerating and accepting racism and to make a
commitment to end racism by the example of our lives and actions.
- Every faith leader is asked to preach about racism and our
responsibility as people of faith to end racism.
- Bishop Adam J. Richardson has prepared a powerful and moving
litany for this Sunday (See the Litany below).
- “The Male Investment Plan”, a toolkit developed by the Rev.
Staccato Powell will be available as a guide. It is designed to effectively
position African American males ages 5-25 through a rigorous and dedicated
Saturday Academy mentoring program with tools to equip them academically, while
also teaching them civil responsibility and spiritual enlightenment. The Male
Investment Plan is a ready made tool to be implemented in churches and
organizations everywhere. The only requirement is committed leadership of
implementation through to successful effectiveness
- Photos and personal
stories are encouraged.
Historically, the Black church has been the conscience of the
nation; and we shrink not from that conscience-stirring role for the nation
This is a joint effort spearheaded by the AME, AME Zion, and CME
Churches. Joining in partnership are the
United Methodist and UAME Churches, the National Council of Churches (and
representatives from communions which comprise the NCC), and the Conference of
National Black Churches.
Please be in prayer as we begin this effort, asking God to guide
and empower us for this effort.
If you have any questions contact Bishop Reginald T. Jackson,
chair – Social Action Commission or Sister Jackie DuPont Walker, Connectional
Director of Social Action.
7. LITANY FOR USE BY LOCAL
CONGREGATIONS ON SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2015:
After the Vigils,
*(A Litany by Bishop Adam
J. Richardson, Jr., 2015)
Leader: "Prayers can't be answered unless they are
prayed," so the poet reminds us, and so we have honored the dead in vigils
of remembrance, emotional prayers, heartfelt tributes, scripture-based
homilies, fervent eulogies, thoughtful soliloquy, and appropriate words spoken
by public officials, but something must follow the prayer meeting -- ACTION.
follows the Vigil!
Leader: "Tragedies are common place," so writes the
composer - and the choirs sing, and following the tragedies, vigils were called
in New Town, Aurora, New York, Sanford, Jacksonville, North Charleston,
Charleston, St. Louis, Ferguson, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Charlotte, Cincinnati,
Atlanta, Washington, DC and in sympathizing cities, villages and hamlets around
the world, for the senseless deaths of mostly young victims ---unarmed. That's
why something must follow the prayer meeting -- ACTION.
follows the Vigil!
Leader: "Shall we pray?" some sincere soul will
rhetorically ask for very good reasons. Prayer centers the spirit, calms the
mind, sharpens the thought, makes the vision keen, quickens the will, and
throws a laser beam on a problem. At the
end of the Vigil, when the "Amen" has been said and sung, something
must follow the prayer meeting -- ACTION.
follows the Vigil!
Leader: "Pray as if everything depended on God; act as if
everything depended on us," so says the thoughtful theologian. It is
putting feet to our faith, power to our prayers, urgency to the present
concern, momentum to the Movement. "I received no answer" says
Frederick Douglass, "until I prayed with my legs." Something must
follow the prayer meeting -- ACTION.
follows the Vigil!
Leader: Vigil is the starting place, not only to feel God's Grace,
but to do God's Will -- taking action against injustice. The sequence begins in
theological reflection, the upward glance, deference to the Creator; marching
orders for a parade route out of bondage to a Promised Land. Next steps include
consensus-building for political, social, economic solutions. Something must
follow the prayer meeting -- ACTION.
follows the Vigil!
Leader: After the Vigil, Vigilance, to be daily examples of love,
peace, faith, hope, maturity, responsibility and excellence, so that succeeding
generations will be motivated to become what they see in us -- after we have
prayed, not merely inspired by what we say. Something follows the prayer
meeting -- ACTION.
follows the Vigil!
Leader: After the Vigil, Vigilance, for legislative cures, legal
remedies, exercising the franchise to vote in every election, to hold lawmakers
and public officials accountable. Something must follow the prayer meeting --
follows the Vigil!
Leader: After the Vigil, Vigilance, against racism. Race is
unavoidable; racism is a decision
and optional. Hate is a horrible heritage; injustice is a terrible legacy,
intolerance is a hindrance to freedom; indifference is the precursor to decay,
apathy is the door to destruction; hopelessness is a path to collective misery.
ministry beckons us -- again -- to the Press, to the Polls, to the Precincts,
to the Markets, to the School Boards, to the Statehouse, to the Capitol, to the
White House -- to express our Pain, to have our voices heard, our ideas
considered, our demands met. Vigilance follows the Vigil!
*Bishop Adam J. Richardson is the Presiding Prelate of the 11th
Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
8. THE CHARLESTON MAGAZINE
NAMES AMEs AMONG THE MOVERS AND SHAKERS:
To commemorate Charleston’s 40th anniversary, the Charleston Magazine honored 40
influential people and groups whose vision, passion, focus, and faith from 1975
to the present have reshaped the city of Charleston, South Carolina.
The 9 Martyrs of Mother Emanuel and the Rev. Dr. Joseph A. Darby
named among the 40 Movers and Shakers in Charleston South Carolina. They are in
the company of Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., business and civic leaders
in the Charleston area.
-- Of the Martyrs of Mother
"Remember Their Names: Ethel Lance, The Rev. Sharonda
Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, The Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., Susie Jackson,
DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Cynthia Hurd, The Rev. Clementa Pinckney, and Myra
Good people,” said President Obama in the College of Charleston’s
TD Arena on June 26, 2015. “Decent people. God-fearing people. People so full
of life and so full of kindness.” In town to eulogize State Senator and Mother
Emanuel AME minister Clementa Pinckney, the President spoke of him and the
other victims—Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel
Lance, DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons Jr., Myra
Thompson—in a way that reached into our shattered hearts, hearts that cracked
open when “The Nine” were mercilessly gunned down on June 17, 2015.
A man of God and civil servant, a coach, a librarian, a devoted
grandmother, and more… these gentlefolk didn’t set out to become a turning
point in our long-simmering history of racial unrest. They were simply going to
Bible study on a regular Wednesday night. But their vicious, unholy massacre in
their historic sanctuary means the Emanuel AME Nine will forever be part of our
city’s—and our nation’s—stark reality and painful memory. We don’t yet know the
full measure of the influence their vibrant lives and tragic deaths will hold,
for Charleston or for the nation. But it will be big. And it will be
resounding. It already is.
In the wake of this immense loss, we have gained renewed unity, at
least symbolically in the joining of hands, thousands strong, to bridge racial
divides. We have prayed together, sung together (thank you, Preacher-in-Chief),
marched together, and cried together. The Confederate flag, finally, has been
furled on statehouse grounds; gun control—especially in light of the alleged
shooter’s failed background check when buying his weapon—may gain traction; de
facto segregation at Burke and Academic Magnet and other area schools may get
renewed scrutiny; daily encounters with our neighbors, coworkers, and fellow
citizens will have a new lens; the next time you check out a book at the
library, you’ll say “thank you” in a reverent tone to the librarian. That’s how
influence becomes influential. In small ways, in everyday ways, in symbolic
gestures, in legislative measures, and on regular Wednesday nights in
These days, this South Carolina State College alum, who was once
jailed for participating in civil rights sit-ins, takes his seat in the U.S.
House of Representatives; having served since 1993, he is the third-ranking
Democrat in the House. James Clyburn’s reputation as a leader and consensus
builder is renowned. He has led the charge for increasing Pell grants for
higher education, investing in science and math programs and historic
preservation at historically black colleges, encouraging economic development
through “Empowerment Zones,” and embracing green technology. He remains
outspoken on social justice, civil rights, and anti-poverty issues, including
funding for community health centers providing care to the uninsured. “He’s one
of a handful of people who, when they speak, the entire Congress listens,” said
Of the Other Joe: The Rev.
Joseph A. Darby
His pulpit is frequently the op-ed page; his message the gospel
truth: racial injustice remains alive and well in Charleston. Joe Darby speaks
with a weighty baritone that makes you listen, even if what he says may be hard
to hear. As senior pastor of 3,000-member Morris Brown AME for 13 years and now
as presiding elder of 33 AME churches in the Beaufort district, he’s long been
an outspoken spokesperson for racial issues, whether leading the charge for
removing the Confederate flag from the statehouse or educational equity at
Burke or SC State University (his alma mater). While Mayor Joe initially campaigned
on improving race relations, the Reverend Joe has carried the campaign onward.
His leadership with the local and statewide branch of the NAACP, with the
Charleston Area Justice Ministry, and as board president of the SC Civil
Liberties Union keeps civil rights issues front and center in the broader
9. NEWS AROUND THE AME CHURCH:
-- The Harris Teeter grocery chain
donating over $60K to Emanuel 9 families.
Harris Teeter is donating over $60,000 to the families of victims in the
Mother Emanuel AME Church shooting after a month-long donation campaign.
10. BEFORE THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF THE AFRICAN
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH - NO. 2012-2016-17-01:
RE: In the Matter of Bishop Preston W. Williams
The Judicial Council delivers the decision
Until the General Conference has enacted legislation more definitive of
the measure of comparability, a Pastor’s Annual Report, properly signed and
certified by the Pastor and Annual Conference Delegate and submitted as a “true
and accurate statement of the numerical and financial condition” of a charge,
is the primary measure for determining comparability as intended in the
Ministers’ Bill of Rights’ requirement that new appointments, when available, be “comparable or better than the previous
one. . ..”
This matter comes before the Judicial
Council on a petition for a declaratory decision filed by Bishop Preston Warren
Williams, Presiding Bishop of the Sixth Episcopal District of the African
Methodist Episcopal Church with respect to the language in the Doctrine and
Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Part V, Section VII,
Ministers’ Bill of Rights, Subparagraph 1 (2012 edition).
The jurisdiction of the Judicial Council
is provided in Part XI, Section XX, Paragraph H, 10 of The Doctrine and
Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2012, (“Discipline”),
page 293 which provides:
When the General Conference shall have
passed any act or legislation that appears to be subject to more than one
interpretation, or when any paragraph or paragraphs of the Doctrine and
Disciple of the African Methodist Episcopal Church seem to be of doubtful
meaning or application, any authority in the Church or any member in good and
regular standing affected thereby shall have the right to appeal to the
Judicial council under the law of the Church from any action of any conference,
connectional board, or ruling of a bishop based upon an act of legislation
which appears to be subject to more than one interpretation. In such case the Judicial Council shall make
a ruling in the nature of a declaratory decision and the effect of such an act,
legislation, paragraph or paragraphs of the Doctrine and Discipline of the
African Methodist Episcopal Church and the decision shall be final, subject to
the approval of the General Conference.
What is the measure of comparability as
implied by the language that “a new appointment shall be comparable or better
than the previous one” in 2012 Discipline, Section VII, paragraph 1?
This matter is before the Judicial
Council for a final action on the Petition for a declaratory decision filed by
Bishop Williams. In his petition, Bishop Williams had requested a declaratory
decision with respect to an interpretation of the language found in the
Ministers’ Bill of Rights regarding new pastoral appointments which reads, in
relevant part: “[T]he new appointment, when available, shall be comparable or
better than the previous one. . ..” 2012
Discipline, Part V, Section VII, Paragraph 1, page 100. The factual details of the occurrences that
led to Bishop Williams’ petition are set forth fully in the preliminary
decision issued in this matter.
In its preliminary decision, the
Judicial Council found that the above-cited section of the 2012 Discipline was
subject to more than one interpretation, and seems to be of doubtful meaning or
application. To assist in its final
deliberations on this issue, this Judicial Council, by published Notice,
invited affected parties to submit written briefs, argument and evidence in
accordance with Part XI, and Section XX, Subparagraphs H 11 and 12, page 293,
of the 2012 Discipline. The affected
parties identified by the Judicial Council were all active Bishops of the
African Methodist Episcopal Church and all active itinerant elders of the
African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Timely responses to the Notice were
received from four affected parties: Bishop Jeffrey (responding for himself,
not on behalf of the Council of Bishops), Bishop Samuel L. Green, Presiding
Elder Earl H. Ifill and Itinerant Elder Joelynn T. Stokes, Esq. One untimely response was received. After due consideration of the arguments
made in each timely response, the Judicial Council issues this decision.
A thorough historical review of the
Ministers’ Bill of Rights and amendments thereto, from the date of its
enactment in 1980 through the present reveals that there has been no recorded
explanation or discussion in the 1980 or any subsequent General Conference
minutes as to what measure of comparability was intended. An examination of the 1980 Discipline
reveals, however, at the time of the passage of the Ministers’ Bill of Rights,
that there was the one definitive measure of comparability already in place
within the confines of the provisions of the 1980 Discipline. This measurement was the recorded information
contained in a Pastor’s Annual Report. See, 1980 Disciple, pgs. 147-150. This
report required pastor to submit annually, accurate information, inter alia,
regarding the financials, church membership and pastor’s compensation. The statement was to be certified as true and
accurate by the pastor in charge and the Annual Conference delegate and
submitted not only to the Bishop at the Annual Conference, but also to the
A review of the 1976 Discipline reveals
that the completion of the Pastor’s Annual Report, and its submission to the
bishop, presiding elder, conference statistician and secretary of A.M.E. Church
at the Annual Conference was an integral part of the specific detailed
responsibility of a pastor at an Annual Conference set forth in the 1976
Discipline. See, Pgs. 235-237 of the
1976 Discipline. In 1980, the same year
the Ministers’ Bill of Rights was enacted, the Pastor’s Annual Report form was
amended to provide that the Pastor’s Annual Report be certified by the Pastor
and Annual Conference Delegate that the information was true and accurate
statement of the numerical and financial condition of a charge. 1980
Discipline, pg. 149.
The 1980, 1984, 1988, 1990 and 1992
editions of the Discipline all contained the Pastor’s Annual Report form in the
body of the section on Annual Conference.
In the 1996 Discipline, and subsequent editions, the Pastor’s Annual
Report Blank form is set forth in the Appendices of the Discipline and there is
no reference to its use in the body of the Discipline referencing Annual
Conference responsibilities and requirements of a pastor, or in any other
section of the body of the Discipline.
See, 1996 Discipline, pgs. 662-666.
However, we will take judicial notice that the specifically indicated
requirement prior to 1996, continues to be a requirement by policy and practice
to the present day, i.e. all pastors within the African Methodist Episcopal
Church continue to be required to submit a certified Pastor’s Annual Report at
his/her Annual Conference. All such reports
are still required to be signed by the pastor and the delegate setting forth
the true and accurate numerical and financial status of a charge.
When there is an absence of any
legislative history as to how a “comparable or better than” new appointment was
to be determined, the Judicial Council may look for guidance to precedent from
the United States Supreme Court. Thus,
we will review the contextual evidence that exists. See, Graham County Soil and Water
Conservation Dist. v. U.S. ex rel. Wilson, 559 U.S. 280, 130 S.Ct. 1396
(2010). (“When interpreting a statute, a
court must interpret the relevant words not in a vacuum, but with reference to
the statutory context, structure, history, and purpose.” Abramski v. U.S., 134
S.Ct. 2259 (2014.)) Undisputedly, when
the Ministers’ Bill of Rights was adopted, it was a specifically stated duty of
the pastor to submit a Pastor’s Annual Report certifying the validity of the
matters being reported. Based on the
already in place requirement that the pastor truthfully report the numerical
and financial status of their respective churches, it is logical and
contextually appropriate to conclude that the Pastors’ Annual Report was
intended to be used to measure comparability of churches.
It is obvious that clearer, more
definitive language is needed to address how comparability, for purposes of the
Ministers’ Bill of Rights, is to be measured uniformly throughout the
connectional African Methodist Episcopal Church. We recognize that rule-making for the African
Methodist Episcopal Church is the responsibility of the General Conference, not
that of the Judicial Council. Thus, we
will not attempt to fashion any language to enumerate the varied objective and
subjective factors suggested by the responding affected parties as how the
comparability of charges should be measured.
However, in the interim of the General Conference directly addressing
this issue, the Judicial Council finds that the primary measure of comparability
shall be the completed and certified Pastor’s Annual Report.
The Judicial Council’s duty, when it has
accepted jurisdiction to rule on a request for a declaratory decision, is to
“make a ruling in the nature of a declaratory decision and the effect of such
an act, legislation, paragraph or paragraphs of [the Discipline] and the
decision shall be final, subject to the approval of the General
Conference.” 2012 Discipline, pg. 293.
To this end, the Judicial Council hereby rules that a Pastor’s Annual
Report properly signed and certified by the Pastor and Annual Conference
Delegate and submitted as a “true and accurate statement of the numerical and
financial condition” of a charge, is the primary measure of comparability as
intended in the Ministers’ Bill of Rights’ requirement that new appointments,
when available, be “comparable or better than the previous one. . ..” The Judicial Council further rules that
this will be the primary measurement of comparability until the General
Conference enacts more definitive legislation regarding factors to be
considered when this comparison is to be made.
Vernon R. Byrd, Jr. offers this Dissent
--- I respectfully dissent from the majority
First, as I stated in my earlier dissent,
the Judicial Council’s jurisdiction to render declaratory judgment decisions is
expressly limited by Part XI Judicial Administration, Section XX, H, 10, p. 293
of The Doctrine and Discipline of the AME Church to matters in which an
affected party appeals from an “action of any conference, connectional board,
or ruling of a bishop based upon an act of legislation which appears to be
subject to more than one interpretation.”
When Bishop Preston Williams contacted the Judicial Council to provide
guidance on how to interpret the Ministers Bill of Rights he was not appealing
an “action of any conference, connectional board, or ruling of a bishop.” He was simply seeking legal guidance. Notwithstanding the importance of his
question, because of the limits of our jurisdiction to matters in actual
dispute between parties, the majority’s answering of the question has resulted
in an advisory opinion, the application of which may be questionable when
applied to the specifics of a given case and to the divergent realities across
a global church. A question seeking
legal guidance is more appropriately addressed to the church’s legal counsel
not its appellate judicial body.
In explaining why the U.S. Supreme Court
forbids advisory opinions in the Federal Court System, Justice William R. Day
stated succinctly in Muskrat v. United States 219 U.S. 346, 362 (1911):
The result will be that this court,
instead of keeping within the limits of judicial power and deciding cases or
controversies arising between opposing parties, as the Constitution intended it
should, will be required to give opinions in the nature of advice concerning
legislative action, a function never conferred upon it by the Constitution.
There are surely valid policy reasons
why some state courts and government agencies are given authority to render
advisory opinions but the Judicial Council has not been given that authority.
Second, the General Conference has never
passed legislation that articulates a relationship between pastors’ annual
reports and determining “comparability” under the Ministers Bill of Rights.
Indeed, the majority states:
A thorough historical review of the
Ministers’ Bill of Rights and amendments thereto, from the date of its
enactment in 1980 through the present reveals that there has been no recorded
explanation or discussion in the 1980 or any subsequent General Conference
minutes as what measure of comparability was intended.
Once we arrive at that conclusion, we
should not go any further. If the
General Conference has for over thirty years declined to draw a bright line
between the Ministers Bill of Rights and pastoral annual reports, we should
decline to do so as well. This is true
particularly since what is before us is not an actual “case and controversy”
between parties but only a question seeking legal guidance. If this were an actual case, we could look at
the specific arguments offered for and against comparability and weigh them in
light of the facts and in light of the intended purpose of the Ministers Bill
of Rights. We would consider pastors’
annual reports if they were relevant and helpful to the question of
comparability on a case-by-case basis.
Third, another difficulty with the
majority’s decision is its assertion that the pastor’s annual report form found
in the 2012 Discipline and its instruction for certification and signing by
pastor and delegate are mandatory throughout the connectional church. The
[A]ll pastors within the African Methodist Episcopal
Church continue to be required to submit a certified Pastor’s Annual Report at
his/her Annual Conference. All such
reports are still required to be signed by the pastor and the delegate setting
forth the true and accurate numerical and financial status of the charge. (Emphasis
evidence was submitted to the Judicial Council to corroborate this
assumption. If the majority means that
the above practices are required as a matter of law throughout the church that
is simply not clear. After all,
according to the majority it basis its conclusion on language that existed
prior to the 1996 Discipline. Indeed,
the 1988 Discipline on p. 223, after laying out the annual report form in the
section on Annual Conferences, states “A completed blank MUST be furnished by
the pastor…” However, that mandatory language to use the
exact form does not exist in subsequent Disciplines. It certainly does not exist in the 2012
Discipline. If the majority means that
the above practices are uniformly required as a matter of fact throughout our
global church that is simply not true.
But even if
the majority was correct in both fact and law, in my opinion it would still not
give us the authority to say what the General Conference has never said, namely
that pastors’ annual reports are the main key to unlocking the meaning of
comparability under the Ministers Bill of Rights. Each of the submissions that we received on
this topic are, like the position of the majority, reasonable and well thought
out. But they cannot be deemed law until
the General Conference says so. As for
me, I believe that the main measure of comparability should always be, not a
report, but the truth.
conclusion, because this matter comes to us as a question and not an appeal
from an action or a ruling, and because the General Conference has yet to
single out any one specific factor as a measurement to determine comparability
I respectfully dissent.
Rev. Francine A. Brookins, Secretary
Judicial Council African Methodist Episcopal Church
11. INVITATION TO
BECOME A COVENANT PARTNER WITH THE 18TH EPISCOPAL DISTRICT IN
ACQUIRING A NEW EPISCOPAL RESIDENCE:
18th Episcopal District needs your help in acquiring a New Episcopal
Residence. We invite you to become a “Partner”
with us to bring to fruition adequate, comfortable living conditions for our
paste and complete the Covenant Partner commitment page below and print it out
and return it along with your financial gift to the address below. Make your
(tax deductible) checks or money orders payable to the "18th Episcopal District – AME
We invite you to
become a PARTNER with us
to bring to fruition adequate, comfortable living conditions for
our Servant Bishops.
Complete the Covenant Partner commitment
page, print it out, and return it along with your financial gift to the address below. Make
your (tax deductible) checks or money
orders payable to the
“18th Episcopal District – AME Church”
Contributions should be
“18th Episcopal District
- AME Church”
Frist AME Church of Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California 90018
___Yes, Dr. Boyd and Committee, you can count
I will make a covenant Gift toward the New Episcopal Residence
of the 18th District.
Check one: $100 $150 $200
$250 $500 $1,000 5,000
$______Other (fill in desired amount)
First Name: ___________________________
Last Name: ___________________________
Amount of Pledge: ______________________
Amount I'm Sending Now:
Balance of Pledge: ______________________
Daytime Telephone: _____________________
Evening Telephone: ______________________
Mobile Telephone: ________________________
Email Address: __________________________
John White F. White
Prelate of the 18th Episcopal District
by John Thomas III, Ph.D. Student, Department of Political Science, University
12. THE RICHARD ALLEN MEMORIAL COURT YARD – YOU
CAN BE A PART OF THIS HISTORIC MONUMENT:
The Deadline to Purchase Your Wall Brick or Paving Stone is October 1, 2015
The Historical Statue of Richard Allen
isn't complete without your name in the courtyard. The unveiling will take
place during the 50th Session of the 2016 General Conference. You
are encouraged to place your order now.
About the Richard Allen Memorial Court Yard:
On Sunday, July 3, 2016, an 80-mile
Bicentennial Torch Run will begin in Dover, Del., where Richard Allen spent
much of his childhood, and end in Philadelphia, Pa., at historic Mother Bethel
African Methodist Episcopal Church. Following the run, the covers will be taken
off of a larger-than-life, bronze statue of Bishop Allen.
The statue will grace an intimate
courtyard at the northeast corner of 6th and Lombard streets. The unveiling and
dedication of this cherished space will bring to closure a journey that began
in 1946 to erect a fitting monument to our courageous founder. That year, a
Richard Allen Statue Committee was organized to seek a permit from the
Philadelphia Park Commission to build the statue on public land. But time
passed and the plan loss momentum.
However, Bishop Gregory G. M. Ingram,
Presiding Prelate – First Episcopal District and Chair – Bicentennial
Committee, was determined to get the statue and a courtyard installed in time
for the 50th Quadrennial Session of the General Conference and 200th
Anniversary of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. To that end, Bishop
Ingram spearheaded a renewed effort to see the project to fruition. As a result
of his leadership, a 70-year dream will be realized the first Sunday in July
About the Richard Allen Memorial Courtyard:
- A 6-foot, 6-inch bronze statue of
Bishop Richard Allen with his hand resting on a Bible atop an anvil.
- A pedestal base for the statue made of
Rocky Mountain Rose Granite, which will complement the stonework on Mother
Bethel AME Church.
- A 20-foot x 30-foot courtyard.
- Courtyard paving stones of two sizes
set in eight grids around the statue.
- Slanted, limestone coping atop the
- Landscaping and lighting.
Donate to the Richard Allen Memorial
Court Yard Project!
Have Your Name Engraved on a 4-inch x 8-inch Memorial Wall Brick for $200.00!
(2 lines, maximum 14 characters/spaces each)
Have Your Name Engraved on a 4-inch x 8-inch Courtyard Paving Stone for
$400.00! (3 lines, maximum 14 characters/spaces each)
Your Name Engraved on an 8-inch x 8-inch Courtyard Paving Stone for $600.00! (4
lines, maximum 15 characters/spaces each)
information and how to donate:
Deadline is October 1, 2015, but don't wait until then or you may miss your
13. CELEBRATING 118 YEARS
AT JOHNSON CHAPEL AME CHURCH:
Sunday, August 23, 2015, Johnson Chapel AME Church in Malakoff, Texas
celebrated its 118th Homecoming Service.
church community of Malakoff, members of the Abe Johnson family and former
Pastors and members of the church came home to worship in the afternoon
pastor, the Rev. Judge Bill Burton hosted the program; with Evangelist Alma J.
Berry doing the Praise and Worship. The
Rev. Joey Baggett gave the opening prayer and current pastor, the Rev. Linda
Ross read the scripture.
program moved forward with a hymn and Bro. Gilbert Smith gave home to welcome
the congregation to Johnson Chapel. In the
absence of former pastor, the Rev. R. C. Emanuel, Evangelist Alma J. Berry
reflected on the church, members, and the families that came for this special
Ava Wheatley a descendant of Abe Johnson in which Johnson Chapel is named after
stated, “We come to Johnson Chapel AME Church because we love this church. This homecoming is not about the Johnson
family, but it is about trying to keep the church alive. This church has stood in the Malakoff
community as a place where you can come if you are lost and need to know the
Lord. Even thought my great-great-great
grandfather donated to land in 1897, Johnson Chapel AME Church is still
standing as a symbol of Faith, Love, and Peace.”
Rev. Rickey Barnes another descendant of Abe Johnson has the pleasure of
presenting the speaker Rev. Clyde Mathews, Jr.
The Rev. Mathews is the son of the late Rev. Clyde Mathews, Sr. and
Sister Verna Mathews Harris. But most of
all he is the grandson of former pastor of Johnson Chapel and former Presiding
Elder the late Rev. G. B. Bailey, Sr.
Rev. Mathews is the current pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Oakwood, Texas
where he has served for the past eleven years.
He is a member of the Palestine Bowen District Association where he
serves as Second vice Moderator. He is
also the Senior Mission #2 Advisor and the Fifth Sunday Fellowship
Coordinator. Rev. Mathews is married,
has three children; one grandson; and he enjoys fishing and watching all
most of all is his love for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and telling
others of His goodness and mercy.
indeed a pledge for me to come to Johnson Chapel to preach on this special day,
but most of all to be here where my grandfather once stood. For those who knew my grandfather, I not a
long-winded speaker, I just preach what God gives me,” said the Rev. Mathews.
theme for this evening, “I Can’t Go Home like This” coming from Genesis
32:24-26; will have you to ask yourself; “In what condition did I leave home
that I cannot go home?” There should
always be a time when you can go home if needed. However, you can’t go home any kind of way,”
said the Rev. Mathews.
Rev. Mathews stated, “Anytime you walk away from God; it’s like the prodigal
son walking on foreign soil. You have to
know the rules of that land; not all rules are the same. But when GOD tells you to move, then you must
move. Satan will attack you at your
weakest point, but you must remember to hold on to God’s unchanging hand. GOD is waiting to help anyone right now; all
you need to do is stand at the door and knock.
Know that Jesus left His Heavenly Home to come to earth to redeem man;
He was crucified, dead and buried, and the third day He arose from the dead and
ascended back to His Heavenly home. As
stated earlier, we must ask ourselves; “In what condition did I leave home?”
program moved on with the presentations of the Rev. G. B. Bailey award. The recipients for 2015 were: The Rev. and
Mrs. R. C. Emanuel and Sister Catherine Smith Thomas.
Emanuel, owner of Emanuel Funeral Home, stated, “My husband and I have been a
part of Johnson Chapel AME Church for many years; our children were only six
months old when we first associated with Johnson Chapel.” The Rev. R. C. and Lawrence Emanuel were both
former pastors at Johnson Chapel. Mrs.
Emanuel said, “I’m truly happy to accept this award, but Johnson Chapel and
especially the Smith Family made us a part of their family; so we will support
this church whenever they need help.”
Catherine Smith Thomas (Dallas Police Department) stated, “I grew up in this
church and I‘m pleased to accept this award.
Even though I live in Dallas, this is still my church. I come home when I can to help out and to
give my support; for you see, “There is no place like home.”
14. THE 2015 SECOND EPISCOPAL DISTRICT
LEADERSHIP CONGRESS AND PLANNING MEETING:
Armed with the theme: Effective Christian Leadership Empowered by:
Prayer, Praise, and Proclamation: Destined for Greatness and scriptural
reference Colossians 3:16-17, Bishop
Williams Phillips DeVeaux, Episcopal Supervisor Dr. PAM DeVeaux, and Sister
Robin Porter Smith, Second Episcopal District Christian Education Director
welcomed pastors, preachers, lay, youth workers, and youth to the Hampton
Convention Center in Hampton, Virginia.
Explanation of the theme and application for Christian living was
evidenced in the workshops, which targeted the diverse needs of over 1600
participants: G.R.I.P (Greatness Reached in Prayer), Contagious PX (Praise
Experience), Social Media: Who are you following?, #IAMGreaterThanInstagram, Millennials destined for greatness:
Unlocking the next dimension (young adults), and Evangelism.
In addition to workshops, youth participated in “Getting to Know
You” activities designed especially for them such as the career fair,
scholarship/grant information, Mission outreach, the Hampton petting zoo,
bowling, movies, face painting, storytelling, pool time, and Let’s Move! Youth participants – and a few adults –
participated in The Amazing World of Science.
Resources provided by numerous agencies such as the USS Abraham, the
Extraordinary League of Women, Peninsula Council of Engineers, Newport News
Shipbuilding, Mad Science of Hampton Roads, Engineering for Kids, First Lego
League, Hampton University, National Educational Association Norfolk State
University, Norfolk Zoo, Virginia Beach City Public Schools NASA Langley
Research Center and Lisa Scoot, Chap. 13 Meteorologist enabled participants to
experiment and practice STEM skills.
Worship services reflected the diversity of the participants. Presiding Elder Conrad Pridgen served as the
worship leader for the Opening Worship Service.
The Rev. Christian Belton preached, “Don’t believe me, just watch”, from
I Samuel 17:4-5, 31-37. The Rev. Akil
Dickens served as the Worship Leader for the Black Lives Matter Revival.
Brother Richard Jackson (young adult) energized the revival by engaging youth
with remixed renditions of contemporary R&B and hip hop songs with a gospel
twist. The Rev. Dr. Jamal Bryant clearly explained why Black Lives Matter and
encouraged participants to share their knowledge with others and apply
principles, which empowered them to serve.
Following the Revival a Black Lives Matter Celebration was held, which
included refreshments, games, music, and fellowship with new found
friends! Presiding Elder Evelyn Dunn
serves as the worship leader for the Closing Service. The GLORY Choir (God’s Loving Obedient Rejoicing Youth) provided
rousing selections and the sermon, “God still matters” from I Samuel 17:31-37
delivered by the Rev. Timothy Smith.
Participants exchanged smiles, hugs, and contact information left
the Hampton Convention Center bound for home and empowered by prayer, praise,
15. THE TRUTH IS THE LIGHT:
The Reverend Dr. Charles R. Watkins, Jr.
Based on Biblical Text: John 7:37b-38: Jesus stood and cried,
saying, “If any man thirst, let him come
unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of
his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
We have witnessed news stations reporting major power outages in
different parts of the country. When that happens we are told that several
power plants have for whatever reason shut down. When these stations shut down
technicians are running around frantically trying to find out why.
There are times when we find out that the outage is merely a
computer glitch that causes one plant to shut down resulting in several other
grids going down as well. However, that one computer glitch causes a chain
reaction of confusion and problems. That computer glitch causes thousands of
dollars in lost revenue as at that point stores are unable to make sales and
gas stations cannot pump gas. The truth of the matter is sometimes a computer
goes out and it seems like the world comes to a screeching halt. All this drama
occurs due to a power outage.
The truth is power outages will do just that. The fact is that we
cannot accomplish much if our source of power is cut off. Why, because power is
what moves everything forward, what propels the masses and what keeps the
wheels of progress in motion.
I submit that at times it appears that the Church is suffering
from a power outage. During the outage we many times find ourselves in a state
of stagnant congestion as we are waiting on somebody else to do something.
That’s right, I said it; there is a power outage in the church. Something has
got church folk shut off and shut down. We find that our accomplishments have
been limited by a lack of power and our forward movement has been stifled by a
shortage of our power. Our numbers are falling off due to a deficiency in
power. The wheels of progress seem to have been slowed up due to a power
What should concern all church leaders is the fact that it seems
to be a misunderstanding of where the power comes from! Part of the church’s
power problem has to do with what we know about the power source. The truth is
that we suffer a shortage of power when we don’t recognize Jesus as the power
source. We cannot muster up enough juice, rev up enough energy or get enough
power when we refuse to hook ourselves up to the true power source.
How does the church get in that condition? I believe in many
instances the church has lost focus. The church, I contend, has lost direction
and has subsequently lost sight of the power source. To prove my point I will
simply ask, who runs the church and who do we follow? Who do we spend most of
our time catering to? What do we spend most of our energy doing?
The sad reality is that many of our churches are made up of
cliques, clubs, societies, organizations, boards and commissions. We also have
membership. There are life members, torch lighters, as well as men and women of
the hour. Each clique, club, society, organization, board and commission is
headed up by somebody who many times thinks the whole thing runs around them.
The church has lost sight of the true source of power.
Lamentably, we sometimes bring a corporate boardroom mentality
into the church. We expect to vote a board into power. But the Church of Jesus
Christ is not an organization it is rather a living, breathing organism. Thus
the church’s direction is not determined by votes from the masses it is
determined by the Voice of God! The power doesn’t come from below it is poured
out from above. We must admit that in some instances the church is suffering
from a lack of Holy Ghost power. To get the church back on track we must
reconnect with our Power Source. We need Holy Ghost power! We can’t do anything
until the Holy Ghost comes!
The power has been off for a while but what causes the power to go
off? What causes a saved person to turn away from their Christian duty and to
no longer be interested in spreading the gospel? What causes a saved person to
become lackadaisical and apathetic about serving? What causes a saved person to
become half-hearted about their service to Christ?
Jesus said, “If any man thirsts, let him come unto me, and
drink.” He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his
belly shall flow rivers of living water. Jesus said if you believe on me there
will be a flow of Living Water. If you are a believer, if you believe on Jesus,
if you take Jesus at His word, if you are saved, if you know Jesus in the free pardon
of your sin then out of your belly flow rivers of Living Water. The songwriter
said Joys are flowing like a river since the comforter has come.
There is power. God provides us with His power. The Holy Spirit
has transforming and uplifting power but it has to be turned on. There ought to
be joy and celebration. There ought to be praises going up. Living water is
flowing. The Lord is a stronghold in
times of trouble; He answers us in our day of trouble. The Lord grants the
desires of our hearts and fulfills all of our plans. The Lord is our light and
our salvation. The Lord is our strength and shield. The strength and the power
we need are in the Living Water.
We need to turn on God’s power to be more faithful and more
committed. We need to turn on God’s power to be more trustworthy and more
dependable. We need to turn on God’s power to be a more dedicated Steward a
more consistent Trustee and a more committed choir member.
We need to turn on God’s power in our private devotions and in our
private prayer life. God’s power will make us more sensitive toward one
another. God’s power will make us a stronger witness. God’s power will give us
strength to have a more passionate involvement in the church ministries. There
is a power outage in the Church. There is power in Jesus Christ.
*The Reverend Dr. Charles R. Watkins, Jr., is the pastor of Morris
Brown AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina
16. GETTING TO ZERO: DEFEATING
DIABETES - TAKE II:
*The Rev. Oveta Fuller. Ph.D
In July 2015 my family gathered to celebrate the life of another
aunt who passed- one of my mother’s five sisters. She is the third sister to
depart in recent years. My 91 years young independently-living mother is the
middle born child of her eight siblings. This aunt, who was younger than mom,
had lost one kidney and been on dialysis for several years. All have lived a
full and blessed life-- much more than three score and ten years. Four of the
six daughters and at least one of the three sons (my uncles) were diagnosed
with Type 2 diabetes in mid-life or later years. My cousins and I are aware
that the diabetes gene is in our family.
In returning from five weeks outside of the USA, during the
re-entry process I am acutely aware of the foods marketed to Americans. I am
aware of the need to make careful choices. I am diligent to request in medical
exams a routine check of A1C and fasting glucose levels to monitor for signs of
pre-diabetes. I try to be more physically active rather than less, to drink lots
of water, to fill my plate with vegetables when possible and to reduce
consumption of starches and soft drinks.
As the school year begins, family routines are put in place to
help get the kids or grandkids off to school while adults go to their various locations.
It’s a good time to remember that we can defeat diabetes. The church-- especially the global African
Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC), can be a major advocate and resource for
This G20 column is dedicated to my aunt*, to all those who
diligently battle to manage diabetes and to those of us who love them. The following is adapted from a May 2015 G20
article that announced arrival of the spring 2015 issue of Diabetes: Health
Monitor provided by the AMEC and Connectional Health Commission (CHC).
In the recorded healings by Jesus, often he would ask the affected
person, “Do you want to be made whole?” In modern day conversation, this
translated to “Would you like to be well? Do you want to change your situation
or manage a condition of physical, mental, emotional or spiritual wellness?
What can you do? What are you willing to do to be whole?” The question, from
ancient times to now, inquires about what a person perceives as their desired
state and what they are willing to do for themselves. The answer affects what
will occur to get to a different situation or move towards wellness.
Diabetes can be prevented or at least managed. Even if genes that
predispose one to a disease run in the family, development of diabetes often
can be avoided by early adjustments in everyday life habits. Effects of
diabetes can be minimized by daily actions of an individual. Although insulin production and uptake by
cells for metabolism are influenced by genetics and environment, individual
actions and choices have a huge impact on disease development and severity of
Diabetes type 2 typically occurs with adult onset and is
traditionally called “sugar diabetes”.
It occurs when insulin is not made in adequate amounts or insulin
present in the blood cannot be used by cells. Insulin is a hormone that affects
processing of food to supply energy. It is produced in the pancreas and allows
cells throughout the body to take in glucose from the bloodstream. Glucose is
one end product of the digestion of foods and beverages we consume. Cells use
glucose to make energy to fuel their functions.
A well-functioning body requires a balance of food intake, energy
use and energy storage. Insulin regulates availability and use of glucose by
cells. Lack of insulin function can result in high or low levels of glucose in
the blood. Too much (high sugar, hyperglycemic) or too little (low sugar,
hypoglycemic) can lead to a range of serious life-threatening complications.
Diabetes affects the entire body. Unchecked, diabetes is not
pleasant. Some complications are unintended weight loss, fatigue, kidney
disease (often leading to routine dialysis), glaucoma (often leading to
blindness) and blurry or loss of vision, neuropathy that leads to foot and limb
numbness (often requiring amputation of a limb or toe) and poor healing of skin
lesions, hypertension, stroke, mental health, heart disease and pregnancy
Monitoring levels of glucose in the blood and determining the
accumulated glucose that sticks to blood cells over time (A1C levels) are
important in detecting diabetes development or in managing disease. These
levels are affected by type and amount of food intake and energy output. Blood
sugar can easily be measured by individuals with a glucose monitoring kit. A1C
and fasting glucose blood levels are performed as part of routine medical care.
Management requires engagement with medical care and continuous
attention by individuals and family members.
The bad and the good news
The CDC estimates that 13% of the African American population over
20 years of age has diabetes. Globally diabetes is one of the fastest rising
chronic diseases. Some 80% of persons
who will develop diabetes live in middle or low income countries; many are
Diabetes is affected by type, amount and timing of food intake and
influenced by weight, physical activity, stress levels and the timing and
amounts of insulin. Typically the metabolism of the body is fine-tuned to
balance these factors.
Truly we are fearfully and wonderfully made!
Diabetes: Health Monitor
contains good news
The joyous faces of Bishop Gregory Ingram and the Rev. Dr. Jessica
Ingram light up the cover of the spring 2015 issue of Diabetes: Health Monitor.
However, the issue is much more than a delightful cover. Inside are pages of
sound wisdom, Godly insights and practical tools for preventing or taking
control of diabetes. An electronic copy can be accessed at: http://www.epageflip.net/i/507111-spring-2015/2
As a metabolic disorder, diabetes can be managed or disease
avoided by lifestyle changes. This 2015 magazine provides diabetes basics and
insights into efforts AMEC episcopal districts and churches are making to
promote preventive health care for members and communities.
As one example, in the midst of a New Jersey Annual Conference
meeting Bishop Gregory Ingram declared that it is “Hokey-Pokey time”. Such
provides a short, fun and effective “just move” physical activity in the midst
of sitting through sessions of a conference. Most people know how or can easily
learn the in, out and turnabout movements of the “Do the Hokey-Pokey” song.
Most people can sing while also mastering some level of the hokey-pokey to
elevate the heart rate and increase blood flow into muscles. Exercise is
important to wellness, but it is a central part of managing diabetes and
keeping acceptable blood glucose levels.
Another article includes efforts at The Empowerment Temple in
Baltimore. The pastor of the large AMEC congregation, the Rev. Dr. Jamal Bryant
leads regularly provided opportunities for members to monitor health indicators
and adopt changes towards a healthier lifestyle. Their Health Ministry provides
periodic blood pressure, diabetes and HIV/AIDS screening, ongoing nutrition and
aerobics classes, and offers an exercise boot camp led by a church member and
owner of a personal fitness business. Church meals purposefully provide fish,
vegetables and fruit.
Small consistent lifestyle habits make a significant difference in
preventing onset, in managing diabetes after diagnosis and in over-all
The spring 2015 issue includes tips on how to make the most of
your medical exam and healthy and tasty recipes for favorite foods such as collard
greens. The CHC director, the Rev. Dr. Miriam Burnett, debunks three common
myths that contribute to late diagnosis and poor management that result in the
most devastating effects of diabetes.
Organizations with an expansive network structure like the AME
Church are ideal for promoting wellness and helping to influence changes
towards health promoting actions. Churches and their leaders have access to
people, opportunity to increase understanding and hopefully some influence on daily
Diabetes: Health Monitor is an easy read. The CHC, headed at the
episcopal level by Bishop Wilford Messiah, has provided an on-target offering
and examples of how small consistent efforts can make big changes in the
outcome for diabetes.
Diabetes can be deadly if unchecked. Thankfully, routine medical
care can screen for known symptoms for accurate diagnosis of diabetes or
pre-diabetes. If either of these is diagnosed, take charge and get informed. Do
what is required to improve nutrition, exercise and stress levels and
consistently take medication if prescribed.
*Dedicated in loving memory of Silina Mae Woods Thompson.
*The Rev. Oveta Fuller Caldwell, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor
of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Michigan (U-M) Medical
School, Associate Director of the U-M African Studies Center and an AMEC
itinerant elder and former pastor. She lived in Zambia for most of 2013 to
study HIV/AIDS prevention among networks of religious leaders.
17. iCHURCH SCHOOL LESSON BRIEF FOR
SUNDAY, AUGUST 30, 2015 - A PLEA TO RETURN TO GOD - MALACHI 3:1-12:
Interpersonal relations are based on mutual respect and
trust. Respect and trust foster dignity
and communicates a clear message that you are a valued individual. When respect and trust are violated an
individual can only conclude that he/she has been disrespected in the
process. In the current urban vernacular
the aggrieved party feels “dissed”. To
be dissed suggests there is a breach in the social contract which defines how
we relate to one another. Hurt, anger and disappointment are the normal
emotional reactions when a party is subject to this form of morally insensitive
conduct. To be dissed not only produces
hurt feelings but can lead to a redefinition in the social contract causing someone
to break relations with the other party creating social estrangement.
The Adult AME Church School lesson for August 30, 2015 examines
the impact of God feeling “dissed.” What
are the consequences if God feels “dissed?”
Glad you asked. Let’s find the
Today’s lesson concludes our 2015 Summer Quarter. We have examined over the summer the essence
of justice as communicated by the Old Testament prophets Amos, Micah, Jeremiah,
Isaiah and Zechariah. Today’s lesson
comes from the Book of Malachi. Malachi
means “messenger”. Malachi lived during
the second half of the fifth century B.C., after the temple had been rebuilt. The Jews religious life was not in good
condition- they had married foreign women, failed to give God what they should
have, and even left God. Malachi’s
message in chapter three is simple:
return to God. The behaviour by
Israel and Judah was defined by serial disobedience to God’s law during
Malachi’s prophetic tenure. Sacrificial
offerings were polluted in character and immoral conduct became the “new
norm.” God felt dishonored and
disrespected. (Malachi 1:7-14). As a
result of this behaviour God instructs Malachi to prophesy that He will send
his messenger to prepare for His coming.
Willful disobedience (as evidenced in non-compliance with the law of
tithing) requires correction. God’s
promises however have not changed.
Obedience will always be collocated with blessings. Tithing, moral conduct and sincere worship
are pleasing to God and He will reciprocate by pouring out blessings that
exceed mathematical calculations. (Malachi 3:10)
A runaway child is driven by his/her belief that remaining in the
care and comfort of the home provided by his/her parents is not in his immediate
best interests. The child seeks
independence and refuge outside the home in another part of town, a different
city or even different state. Accepting
the “rules of the home” becomes intolerable in the child’s decision-making
calculus. After experiencing life on the
“outside” the child becomes aware about the brutality of the “real world”. Hate, harm and danger lurk all around. His comfort zone has been significantly restricted
due to no access to his parents. Simple
decisions at home concerning what he was going to eat and where he would sleep
now become monumental decisions with no clear answer. Like the Prodigal Son in Jesus’ great parable
he reaches rock bottom. However, a
reawakening happens. The runaway can now
see why his parents’ home is indeed the best of all alternatives. The only rational decision is to return home
where his parents are eager to welcome him back, like the Prodigal Son. The grass is not always greener on the other
*Brother Bill Dickens is currently the Church School Teacher at
Allen AME Church in Tacoma, Washington. He is currently a member of
the Fellowship of Church Educators for the African Methodist Episcopal Church
18. MEDITATION BASED ON I
*The Rev. Dr. Joseph A. Darby
Anyone who’s ever had a computer problem knows how aggravating
“customer service” calls can sometimes be.
I spent over an hour this week on a phone company’s customer service
line, trying to reset the Charleston NAACP’s office email password. After navigating the many automated service
options, I finally reached a real human being, who said that he had to pass me
on to another department - that’s where I spoke with Victor.
Victor - who had all of the style, grace and tact of Donald Trump
on a bad day - repeatedly said that he couldn’t hear me clearly and eventually
told me that the email address in question wasn’t in their system. He did so while talking so much that he
didn’t hear me telling him that the email worked perfectly on their system
until the day before my call.
Victor only listened to me when I demanded to speak with a
supervisor, who heard me very clearly and who immediately realized why Victor
couldn’t find the email address in their system - Victor talked so much that he
misspelled the email address!
Victor was rude and arrogant, but if the truth be told, there’s a
little Victor in all of us when it comes to our relationship with God. God speaks to us in our times of triumph and
in our times of trouble. God sends us
encouragement and direction in numerous ways and through numerous opportunities
and numerous people who cross our paths.
God is always there for us, but we sometimes miss out on blessings
because we get so caught up in what we want, what we expect and what we think
should be done that we can’t hear God speaking to us and do what we think is
When we take the time in the midst of our often turbulent lives,
however, to listen for what I Kings 19:12 calls the “still, small voice” of God,
God will speak peace, hope, comfort and joy into our lives and lead us down new
roads to unexpected blessings.
Take the time, in the midst of life’s problems and pressures, to
“exhale” and listen for that “still, small voice.” You’ll find new direction, new inspiration
and new appreciation for the words of the hymn that says, “Where He leads me I
will follow, I’ll go with Him all the way.”
Get Ready for Sunday, and have a great day in your house of
*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
19. CLERGY FAMILY BEREAVEMENT NOTICE:
We regret to announce the passing of Mrs. Annie Mae Mitchell, the
mother of the Rev. Anthony Mitchell, Sr., pastor at Union Chapel AME Church in
Newark, New Jersey.
The following information has been provided regarding the funeral
Saturday, August 29, 2015
Nichols Chapel AME Church
The Rev. Randolph Miller, pastor & eulogist
Expressions of sympathy may be sent to:
Vanessa Smalls (daughter)
The Rev. Anthony Mitchell, Sr.
20. CLERGY FAMILY
We regretfully inform you of the passing of the Rev. Dorris E.
Patton, Sr., he had pastored as an Itinerant Elder in the Tennessee Annual
Conference for several years, until illness kept him from serving. He was a
widower, Mrs. Jeraldine J. Patton, passed in 1998. He is survived by a daughter
and four sons.
Arrangements for the Rev. Dorris E. Patton:
Professional services entrusted to:
Lewis and Wright Funeral Home
Nashville, Tennessee 37208
Telephone: (615) 255-2371
August 27, 2015 – 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.
The Lewis and Wright Funeral Home
Family Visitation 11:00 a.m.
Celebration of Life 12:00 p.m.
Nashville, Tennessee 37218
Condolences may be sent to:
Mr. Dorris E. Patton, Jr.
21. CLERGY FAMILY
We regret to inform you of the passing of Mr. Walter Herman, the
father of the Rev. Perry Herman, pastor of Galilee AME Church in Memphis,
Wake: Friday, August 28,
2015, 5-7 p.m.
Funeral: Saturday, August
29, 2015 - 11:00 a.m.
Telephone: (901) 948.3441
The Rev. Perry Herman, Eulogist
The Rev. Dr. Kenneth and the Rev. Marilynn Robinson, pastors
Condolences may be sent to:
Hickory Hill Funeral Home
Telephone: (901) 795-6688
22. BEREAVEMENT NOTICES AND CONGRATULATORY
ANNOUNCEMENTS PROVIDED BY:
Ora L. Easley, Administrator
AMEC Clergy Family Information Center
Telephone: (615) 837-9736 (H)
Telephone: (615) 833-6936 (O)
23. 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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