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

Thought for the Week: "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” -  MLK, Jr.


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

My 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!  

I 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. 

I 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 States.

There are just some things that I won’t part with because they provide comfort and some of them have wonderful memories.

I 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. 

There are some things I keep because they are comfortable and some I keep because they bring back warm memories.

In spite of that…

There 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.

I 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.

I 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 styles.

I 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

The 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.

First, every statistic I have read in the last 10 years says the fastest growth of the Christian church is in Africa and South America.

The 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.

Contrastingly, 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.”

We tend to think of the United States as being the “pulse” of Christianity and the pulse of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

If 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.

The 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.

If 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.

The complication 
The 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 bishops.

We excitedly elected three bishops with the notion that they were indigenous to Africa and, as I understood it, would serve their episcopacies in Africa. 

The 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. 

It would be like assuming that a person could be indigenous to South America or to Europe.

In 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.

So, 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.

The 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.

A 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. 

If 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.

It 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.”

The 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.

And 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.

It 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.

Indigenous African leadership is needed, but the notion of indigenous African leadership for Africa is a misnomer. 

As 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 region.

The 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. 

The 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 African bishops?

The 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 has passed.

How should we do it?

I don’t know!  The “devil” is always in the details.

But 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.

We 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 things differently.

The world is changing and we, the AME Church, must be willing to change in ways that facilitate growth.

To be continued.

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 posted.


-- To the Editor:

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 your Editorial."

Teboho G. Klaas

--To the Editor:

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 paycheck-to-paycheck.

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

-- To the Editor:

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

I am 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, Georgia.

Dennis C. Dickerson
James M. Lawson, Jr. Professor of History
Vanderbilt University
PMB 351802
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, Tennessee 37235-1802

3. I ASK:

*Bishop Carolyn Tyler Guidry

I Ask

I 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 conflict.

Bishop 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.

For 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 Episcopal Church


-- 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." 


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.

- RSVP to leechapelchurch@gmail.com or 615.320.0260

The Rev. Roderick Dwayne Belin


-- “Liberty and Justice for All”

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 once again.

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.


After the Vigils, Vigilance!

*(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.

People: Vigilance 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.

People: Vigilance 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.

People: Vigilance 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.

People: Vigilance 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.

People: Vigilance 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.

People: Vigilance 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 -- ACTION.

People: Vigilance 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.

People: Prophetic 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


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 Emanuel 9

"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 Thompson

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 life-changing moments.

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 President Obama.

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 community.


-- 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.


RE: In the Matter of Bishop Preston W. Williams

The Judicial Council delivers the decision Per Curium

Holding:   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.

Statement of Issue

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?

Statement of Facts

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.

Analysis and Discussion

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 General Secretary.

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 opinion:

Vernon R. Byrd, Jr.

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 majority states:

 [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 added)

No 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.

In 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.

Vernon R. Byrd, Jr.

The Rev. Francine A. Brookins, Secretary
The Judicial Council African Methodist Episcopal Church
P.O. Box 310827
Fontana, CA  92331


The 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 Servant Bishops.

Cut, 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 Church."

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 mailed to:

“18th Episcopal District - AME Church”
Dr. J. Edgar Boyd
Frist AME Church of Los Angeles
2270 South Harvard
Los Angeles, California 90018

Covenant Partner Commitment

___Yes, Dr. Boyd and Committee, you can count on me!
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: ___________________________
Address: _____________________________
City: ________________________________
State: _______________________________
Zip: _________________________________
Amount of Pledge: ______________________
Amount I'm Sending Now: ________________
Balance of Pledge: ______________________
Daytime Telephone: _____________________
Evening Telephone: ______________________
Mobile Telephone: ________________________
Email Address: __________________________

Bishop John White F. White
Presiding Prelate of the 18th Episcopal District

*Submitted by John Thomas III, Ph.D. Student, Department of Political Science, University of Chicago


- 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.

Visit the First District General Conference website to place your order today http://2016generalconference.org/

About the Richard Allen Memorial Court Yard: Background

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 2016.

About the Richard Allen Memorial Courtyard: What’s Included

- 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.

- A memorial wall

- Slanted, limestone coping atop the wall

- Landscaping and lighting.

How You Can Help:

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)

Have Your Name Engraved on an 8-inch x 8-inch Courtyard Paving Stone for $600.00! (4 lines, maximum 15 characters/spaces each)

Additional information and how to donate:

The Deadline is October 1, 2015, but don't wait until then or you may miss your opportunity.


By:  Delanda S. Johnson

On Sunday, August 23, 2015, Johnson Chapel AME Church in Malakoff, Texas celebrated its 118th Homecoming Service.

The 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 service.

Former 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.

The 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 day.

Sister 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.”

The 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. 

The 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 sports.

But most of all is his love for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and telling others of His goodness and mercy.

“It’s 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.

“The 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.

The 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?”

The 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.

Mrs. 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.”

Sister 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.”

By Gloria L Keaton

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, and proclamation!


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 outage.

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


*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 wellness. 

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). 

Will you be made whole?

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 symptoms.

What is diabetes?

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 complications.

Monitoring levels of glucose in the blood and determining the accumulated glucose that sticks to blood cells over time (A1C levels) are important in detecting diabetes development or in managing disease. 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 undiagnosed.

Diabetes is affected by type, amount and timing of food intake and influenced by weight, physical activity, stress levels and the timing and amounts of insulin. 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 wellness. 

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.
The AMEC - Stepping Up

Organizations with an expansive network structure like the AME Church are ideal for promoting wellness and helping to influence changes towards health promoting actions. Churches and their leaders have access to people, opportunity to increase understanding and hopefully some influence on daily lives.

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.


*Brother Bill Dickens


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 answers below.

Bible Lesson

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)

Bible Application

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 side.   QED

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


*The Rev. Dr. Joseph A. Darby

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 best.

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.”

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

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

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


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 service arrangements.                                                     
Saturday, August 29, 2015
Viewing: 10:00 a.m.
Funeral: 12:00 noon

Nichols Chapel AME Church
132 Bogard Street
Charleston, SC 29403

Telephone: 843-577-7366  

The Rev. Randolph Miller, pastor & eulogist                  
Expressions of sympathy may be sent to:

Vanessa Smalls (daughter)
P. O. Box 40952
Charleston, SC 29423

Or to

The Rev. Anthony Mitchell, Sr.
725 S. Center Street
Orange, NJ 07050


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
2500 Clarksville Pike
Nashville, Tennessee 37208

Telephone: (615) 255-2371

Public Viewing:

August 27, 2015 – 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.
The Lewis and Wright Funeral Home

Friday, August 28, 2015
Family Visitation 11:00 a.m.
Celebration of Life 12:00 p.m.

Temple Baptist Church
3810 Kings Lane
Nashville, Tennessee 37218

Condolences may be sent to:
Mr. Dorris E. Patton, Jr.
1340 Tonya Drive
Laverne, Tennessee 37086

Mobile: 615-881-5870


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, Tennessee.

Wake:  Friday, August 28, 2015, 5-7 p.m.
Galilee AME Church
1420 Oaklawn Street
Memphis, Tennessee

Funeral:  Saturday, August 29, 2015 - 11:00 a.m.
St. Andrew AME Church
866 South Parkway East
Memphis, TN 38106

Telephone: (901) 948.3441
Fax: (901) 322.7994

The Rev. Perry Herman, Eulogist
The Rev. Dr. Kenneth and the Rev. Marilynn Robinson, pastors

Condolences may be sent to:

The Rev. Perry Herman
3365 Gaylord Lane
Memphis, Tennessee 38118

Funeral Home in charge:

Hickory Hill Funeral Home
5270 Knight Funeral Home
Memphis, Tennessee 38118

Telephone: (901) 795-6688


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


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

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