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

-- March – Woman’s History Month
Daylight Saving Time (United States) begins Sunday, March 8, 2015
-- The Lenten Season
-- Easter Sunday: April 5, 2015

Thought for the Week: “Never do something permanently foolish just because you are temporarily upset.”


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

The subject of this editorial is directed to the clergy, but it is applicable to the laity too. This editorial is not an AME issue; it’s a concern that permeates almost every Protestant denomination. 

The good news is that some denominations have addressed the issue more appropriately and effectively; the bad news is that the AME Church can do better addressing the issue, but having said that, the issue is not systemic, but a personal one.

Though the issue permeates almost every Protestant denomination, there are no courses in seminary that address the issue. 

The issue is not dealt with in The Doctrine and Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Church- 2012 and it has never been dealt with in any Book of Discipline. The issue cannot be legislated and bishops cannot enforce it.

The issue is ignored by presiding elders, pastors, official boards and even the General Conference. The issue is one of the most ignored issues in the profession of ministry.

As a matter of fact; bishops, presiding elders and pastors ignore the issue and when the subject-matter surfaces, very few clergy do anything about it.

Laypersons are aware of the issue and are even guilty themselves, but they, too, fail to do anything about it. Everybody is aware of the issue, but very few do anything about it. We won’t even spend time dealing with the issue in various meetings that take place around the church. The issue is not dealt with as a stand-alone issue at connectional meetings.

The sad aspect is that ignoring the important issue has caused low-performing and failed ministries, divorces, breakup of families, addictions, rebellious children, fractured relationships, low esteem, depression, poor health, and in more serious cases, death.

Several years ago, I heard this humorous and imaginary story that was told about Jesus walking along the road one day and seeing a man crying. 

When He asked what was wrong, the man replied, "I'm blind", so Jesus healed him. 

Further along the road, Jesus met another man in tears and asked him the same question.  He replied, "I'm lame," so Jesus healed him. 

Then Jesus encountered a third person weeping.  In response to Jesus' question the third person replied, "I'm a pastor."  Jesus sat down and wept right along with the pastor. 

I also heard a story about the perfect pastor.  Someone described the perfect pastor as one who preaches 20 minutes and sits down; condemns sin without offending anybody, works 16 hour days; and does everything from preaching to sweeping. The perfect pastor makes a modest salary and gives half of it back to the church; wears nice clothes, has a model family, supports good causes and helps the homeless and indigent who stop by the church. 

The description goes on to say that the perfect pastor is 36-years old and has been preaching for 40 years. The perfect pastor has a burning desire to work with the youth, and spends all his or her time with the senior citizens. 

The perfect pastor smiles all the time while keeping a straight face, because the perfect pastor has a keen sense of humor that finds the perfect pastor seriously dedicated.  The perfect pastor makes 20 visits a day, spends every waking moment evangelizing and is always in his or her office in case he or she is needed. 

The bad news is; the perfect pastor is burned out, ineffective, overweight, in poor health, in deep financial debt, with very little savings, cynical and fed up with ministry and is in repetitive occupational crises. 

The bottomline upfront

Many pastors are in personal and family crises because they fail to provide self-care for themselves and the result is that they neglect their families and in an insidious way, fail to healthily take care of their congregations.

Here is a test for your pastor, bishop, presiding elder and even for laypersons who are heavily involved in the live of the church. 

Ask him or her, “What is your passion, outside of the church or outside of ministry?”  “What do you do passionately for yourself to help you keep your sanity and emotional and mental balance?” What passionate activity do you do, without compromise, on a regular basis?”

If there is the slightest hesitation, that would be an indication that the person has subordinated his or her well-being to a narrow focus of ministry and life.

A person’s passion is something they do for their own self well-being. Passion is something you do for you! 

Let me share this - if I am asked, “My passion is music.”  My study also looks like a music studio. I read books and now play the piano, guitar and the ukulele. 

I am always concerned when a clergyperson tells me that he or she does not have a hobby or has not taken a vacation.

The old nursery rhyme says it well, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”  and “All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl.”  In other words, “all work,” be it the ministry or another profession, makes one dull and boring.

A clergyperson should ask him or herself, “What interests do I have outside of the church, what conversations do I have with others, not church related. When I am with other clergy do we always talk about church or about the AME Church?”  Ask yourself, “Do I have interests outside of the church, do I have close friends who are not clergy with whom I can be myself and act like a normal person?  

“The issue” is well-roundedness, particularly for the clergy. Clergypersons should not let people “put them in a box” because if they allow themselves to be put “in a box,” their lives and relationships become restricted to how people expect them to act as clergy. And, people have a skewed way of how clergy and their families should act.  

We cannot stop or change people’s perceptions of how they think clergypersons and their families should act, but clergy and their families certainly can take charge of their lives and take time to do some of the things they want to do; that is to take time to devote to their passions.

I will state again, the issue is not systemic, it’s a personal issue and only you – the clergy person: pastor, presiding elder, bishop or licentiate or even layperson can decide to take charge of your life to life the fullest, well-rounded life that you can live and to enjoy doing the things you are passionate about! 

Pastoring can be a thankless job and perhaps that’s what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote: Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. I Thessalonians 5:13 (NIV)

Mark your Calendar: Daylight Saving Time (United States) begins Sunday, March 8, 2015, 2:00 a.m. and ends Sunday, November 1, 2015 at 2:00 a.m.


-- To the Editor:

RE: Daily GDC Updates sent by Mr. John Thomas III

Thank you The Christian Recorder for the GDC daily updates that shows me that we are an AME family working together.

The Rev. Willard Machiwenyika (P.E)
P.E., District Mutare
North East Zimbabwe Conference
20th Episcopal District 

-- To the Editor:

RE: Daily GDC Updates sent by Mr. John Thomas III

Thanks for the excellent updates. Sorry I was unable to attend due to three (3) funerals. I was unable to travel.

The Re. Royd Mwandu

-- To the Editor:

Re: TCR Online

The Christian Recorder is so informative. It is so true that the clergy often doesn't always think of the future of their families and get the revenue needed to ensure that their family affairs and their funeral affairs are in order.

It is up to us as pastors to not only ensure our church affairs are in order, but our family affairs and financial affairs are in order.

Many of us have witnessed the rise and fall of leaders and churches and their families when it comes to unpreparedness with any situation including financial.

I plead with our local, state and international leaders to get “on the ball” and let's join this prestige voice of change and not leave our families or churches in the dark, but let's give them hope and a sense of peace in knowing that there is peace.

Yours in Christ service,

The Rev. Dr. Philip Crabtree


-- African-American history

In December 1898, the Sunday School of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Greencastle (History's Echoes, Feb. 15, 2006) would celebrate…

-- Photo of Bishop Primm standing behind Dr. King and Ralph Bunche

Received from Presiding Elder Hartford Lee

-- Gifted on violin

Lima Ohio -- “Thomas Page Jr., colored, son of Mrs. Loretta Page, 1413 Oakland Parkway, will appear in a violin recital at St. Paul A.M.E. church, Friday, Aug.

-- Edward Waters College Choir gives spiritual, soulful performance at church benefit


-- The Opening Session – February 24, 2015

The Biennial General Assembly of the Global Development Council convened on February 25 at 9 a.m. under the leadership of GDC Chair Bishop Paul JM Kawimbe.  The meeting is hosted by Bishop and Supervisor David R. and Irene M Daniels and the 15th Episcopal District in Cape Town at the Southern Suns Hotel.

At time of writing there are 113 delegates and observers representing all Districts 14-20.  Thirty-three (33) observers from the United States attended: including Bishop McKinley Young, Bishop Jeffery N Leath (President of the Council of Bishops), General Officers Dr. George Flowers and Dr. Darryl Ingram, Supervisor Dorothy Young, WMS President Shirley Reed, Lay Organization President Willie C Glover, and Fellowship of Christian Educators President the Rev. Joy Galmon.  Several candidates for Bishop and General Office are also attending including:  

For the Episcopacy: The Rev Silvester Beaman (1) PE Albert Biwa (15), the Rev. Ronald E. Brailsford (7) the Rev Cecelia Green-Barr (4) PE Anne Henning-Byfield (4), the Rev. Darryl Ingram (10), the Rev. Michael Mitchell (11), the Rev. Harry Seawright (2). The Rev Moses Sims (8), the Rev Timothy Tyler (5). The Rev Stafford Wicker (6), and the Rev Daryl Williams (4),

For positions as general officer - Executive Director of Christian Education: The Rev Joy Galmon for (11) and the Rev Garland Pierce (7); for Editor of The Christian Recorder, Mr. John Thomas III (13).

Discussions for Day One plenary centered on General Conference delegation logistics and the general budget apportionments for Districts 14-20.

The following Standing Committee working groups met: Evangelism and Discipleship, Empowerment, Youth Ministry, Economic Development, Education, Christian Education, Legislation and Redistricting.

-- Report # 2 – February 25, 2015

The following persons who are candidate for the AMEC episcopacy are in attendance at the Global Development Meeting along with the persons listed in the previous TCR Breaking News report: The Rev Wayne Anthony (16), the Rev Dimpho Goabepe (19), the Rev Solomon Maans (19), the Rev Paul Mugala (17) and the Rev RJR Shuping (19). Mr Robert Nicholas Executive Director of SADA is also present.

The evening Service of Worship and Holy Communion took place at Bethel Memorial AME Hazendal, Cape Town pastored by the Rev. Sekoboto J. Tau. Bishop John Franklin White served as Worship Leader. The worship experience was an eclectic mix of contemporary praise and worship, hymns, traditional hymns sung in Xhosa and liturgical dance.  Bishop McKinley Young preached a pithy and powerful message "A Cross Eyed Faith" (Acts 2:42-47).

After the preached word, a special Missionary robing ceremony took place.  WMS International President Shirley Cason Reed was robed by Supervisors Young and Jackson. The newly-minted Mother Reed then capped two of the Episcopal daughters of the 15th District: Davida Renee and Iesha Mardea Daniels. 

Several presentations were also made during the service.  Bishop Young presented checks of US$5000 apiece to the 15th and 19th Episcopal Districts.  He indicated that the 16th and 18th Episcopal Districts would receive their funds before the General Conference.  Districts 14, 17 and 20 had already benefited from the generosity of the 3rd District.  In turn, the 15th District gave Bishop and Supervisor Young a token of appreciation for their years of service in the 15th District and their long-standing impact on the positive welfare of the region.

Bishop Daniels presented to the Connectional Church a check for $15,000 to pay the General Budget assessment of the 15th Episcopal District directly instead of having it directly debited from the Overseas Development Fund allocation.  Bishop Daniels also presented US$2200 to the 14th District and US$1000 to the 20th Episcopal District.

Tomorrow (2/26/15) will feature reports from the breakout sessions, greetings from the candidates and the official 15th Episcopal District welcome of the delegates and visitors to the GDC.

-- Report # 3 – February 26, 2015

Correction from yesterday's report: The robing service for Mother (Dr.) Shirley Cason Reed was officiated by Mother (Dr). Dorothy Jackson Young and Mother Irene Moifoi Daniels.

The Rev Caesar R Richburg (7) arrived today. He was delayed due to passport complications.
The morning session featured the first committee reports and a spirited discussion on the implementation of Field Representatives for Field Officers in Districts 14-20; the condition of the 2004 Covenant and the strategy to elect bishops from Districts 14-20 at the 2016 50th Quadrennial Session of the General Conference that will be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 
The candidates for Episcopacy and positions as General Officers were allowed to address the body.  The reactions were overall respectful and warm with some candidates generating visible enthusiasm.
The afternoon featured more reports and discussion.  The evening closed with a reception at the Episcopal Residence hosted by Bishop David and Mother Irene Moifoi Daniels and the 15th Episcopal District.

The recommendations from the GDC will be published at later date. 

The GDC elections will be held tomorrow morning, Friday, February 27, 2015. 

-- This is the final dispatch from the GDC - February 27, 2015

The final day of the Global Development Council (GDC) featured the final reading of reports and the election of officers for 2015-2017. 

Bishop David R. Daniels, Jr is the new Chair of the Global Development Council.  The complete slate of officers will be published at a later date.

The closing service was presided by Bishop David R. Daniels, newly elected President of the GDC. 

Bishop Jeffrey N. Leath, President of the Council of Bishops and Presiding Prelate of the 13th Episcopal District preached the message: "Mission and Ministry" taken from John 3.

Detailed recommendations and minutes will be available at a later date after compilation and review by the GDC Secretariat. 

The next milestone in the process will be General Board review and action in June in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The GDC official report will be presented to the General Board in June 2015. 

**Submitted by Mr. John Thomas III, Reporting for The Christian Recorder


The members of the Eighth Episcopal District are excited to host the meetings of the Council of Bishops, the General Board, and the Investiture of Bishop Julius H. McAllister, Sr.

All events will be held at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel located at 2 Poydras Street in New Orleans, Louisiana on June 29 – July 1, 2015.

To commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime event - Bishop McAllister’s Investiture - we are publishing a state of the art Investiture Souvenir Journal.  We invite you to share in this celebrative occasion by purchasing an advertisement. 

Appended below are telephone numbers and email contact information about how to purchase advertisements.

Investiture Souvenir Journal application along with full payment for advertisements must be received by April 15, 2015.

If you need additional information concerning the Investiture Souvenir Journal, please contact the Rev. Michele R. Goodloe at (601) 366-8240 or (601) 506-8482 or Dr. Shirley H. Davis at (601) 260-8855 or (601) 924-9107.

Additionally, booths are available to vendors and candidates. 

For information concerning booth space rentals, you may contact the District office at (601)366-8240 or the Rev. Keith Sanders at (318) 512-7616 or Mr. Melvin Davis at (504) 415-9133.

For additional information and advertising rates email: Mcallisterinvestiture2015@gmail.com or eighthdistamec@aol.com

***Ads will not be processed for submission without full payment.  Deadline for submission and payment of Ads: April 15, 2015.

Submitted by the Rev. Michele R. Goodloe, Souvenir Journal, Co-Chair                                                                            


*Ms. Gloria T. Byrd

He was not a perfect Preacher, who pastored a perfect congregation, but a pastor who loved them and they loved him. That Pastor was the Reverend George Moore.  Pastor was a man who paid attention to every detail and was an expert on church growth. Pastor Moore created an atmosphere that encouraged members to feel like owners of their church, thus making them feel responsible and creative as ministries began to develop. As everyone stated at his celebration, Rev. Moore was good at giving you a so call temporary assignment under the guise of “until I find someone” and then years pass and you found yourself still at the helm. He knew that getting members active and involved doing what made them feel good about church was the perfect way to draw them to Saint Philip. It worked. He also knew that doing things in a timely fashion would ensure that members would not be concerned about time but focus on the activity. He kept services moving giving the congregation three point s to carry them through the week.  Pastor certainly made me more aware of being on time. He couldn’t abide starting a program late (my mother would fuss with me about making her late for school every day as I was growing up).

Because Pastor was to the point, most could remember exactly what he said. He was not overbearing with his sermons, nor did he use the pulpit to “throw off on members” if he was upset with them. I know because when he was upset with me he didn’t blast me out, but we could talk it through. I have heard the same things from other members. Most importantly, he was always there for us. We knew where to find him any time if we needed him. He put his congregation first and did not find satisfaction in being other places for personal gain. He was growing a church for the future! No matter  what convention we all attended, he always make sure we were taken care of and took the time to eat dinner or spend time with us all at the site of the meeting. We felt like a Saint Philip Team with the “Coach” leading us.

An extremely humble, proud man, he was especially proud of his family and his congregation. He made us feel that everything we did in the name of Saint Philip was for the team not for ourselves. When I ran for conference Lay president, he showed up, sat in the corner until the votes were counted and eased out once he knew Saint Philip won……not Gloria Byrd, but Saint Philip. He developed a team concept so whatever we did as an organization or individually, it was Saint Philip not the person. Pastor wanted the best for Saint Philip.

Rev. George Moore didn’t beat you over the head about money or threaten that you would go to “Hell” if you didn’t tithe. New members always remarked in the orientation classes of their surprise that the Pastor was never begging for money from the pulpit. But when we finished explaining how the money was being used at Saint Philip and up through the connectional church in our classes, we got checks from some of them that morning to report to the finance office. This started in 1989 as the church was about to hit one thousand members. It is amazing how making people love you and being transparent can impact getting what you need from them……. including money and time. The Lay at Saint Philip focused on the Three “T’s” in the orientation classes with equal emphasis on Time, Talent and Tithes. If you want your church to grow, all three must be emphasized. Pastor allowed the officers to discuss money, how to secure it, and how to spend it. He relied on the young educated and professional members of the church to use their special skills to support Saint Philip. Saint Philip was always buzzing. We organized our professional and personal lives around Saint Philip’s calendar. I discovered that I was not the only one that felt like I lived at Saint Philip. But there was excitement there.

This man did not feel threaten from members sharing their ideas. We advised new members to connect with others and put their idea in writing and secure an appointment with Pastor Moore. If he was interested in your proposal, he would arrange to meet with you and some of the older members of the church (merging new and old together) for dinner on Wednesday night prior to Bible study allowing you to present your idea to the older members. Somehow the older members knew Pastor Moore was interested if you made it to dinner. So they moved forward to assist getting the program started.

Our Sign Language ministry was initiated this way. Five years prior to moving into the new facility, a young lady showed up in the new member class and inquired at the end if we used signing during the service. I admitted that I was not even aware if we had members in need of this assistance, but advised her to approach Pastor Moore. She did and started training other members. By the time we finished our new sanctuary, she had a team ready to go.

Pastor Moore read a lot and obviously paid attention to research on church growth. When I was asked to speak in my home district on church growth from the Lay’s prospective, he gave me books to help me with my presentation. I didn’t realize he had such an extensive library.

I wish Pastor Moore had had the opportunity to teach others his method and maybe we would not have so many people leaving our denomination today because the focus has changed. There is too much emphasis on money and not spiritual growth.  No longer are we developing people spiritually but begging for money every Sunday. We no longer have the connectional membership to support operating as we have in the past. Change must come in 2016. I’m always amazed at the response I get when identifying a specific activity that needs to change. I am hearing “well we are already planning now for General Conference”.  Well, wake up folks; you can only make changes at the seat of the General Conference. That is the purpose of the GC.

If younger pastors would copy this imperfect man who led and grew an imperfect congregation, we would all be more successful, Lay and Clergy. We will all miss Pastor George Moore, my pastor of 27 years.

*Ms. Gloria Byrd is the First Vice President of the Connectional Lay Organization and professionally serve as Chief of the Warrior Transition Battalion Social Work Department serving injured (physically and mentally) Soldiers returning from war prior to discharge or reassignment.


Written by Theresa W. Bennett-Wilkes

We proudly proclaim that we are AME!!! We are the faces, voices, and the future of African Methodism. We’ve come this far by faith, leaning on and trusting in the Lord. Praise God for the AME Church!!! (Founders’ Day Litany, 2015)

Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church celebrated the 199th anniversary of the founding of the denomination on Sunday, February 8, 2015. The focus of this observance was on the upcoming Bicentennial of the first General Conference of the AME Church. Anticipation of this seminal event provided an opportunity to revisit our history and heritage while planning for what is to come. Our theme: “We’ve Come this Far by Faith: Honoring the Past and Looking to the Future.” Our Scripture: Jeremiah 29:11-13.

The worship experience opened with a moving liturgical dance performed by Bethel’s newest ministry comprising girls ages two and up. The litany reaffirmed our gratitude for the vision, courage, tenacity, and sacrifices of our founder, Richard Allen, and those ancestors who embraced his work. Uplifting music for this service was provided by Bethel’s Gospel Choir.

We gather today to celebrate 199 years of African Methodism. The struggle continues as we anticipate a vibrant future for our denomination. We prayerfully intercede on behalf of our episcopal, connectional, conference branch, clergy, and lay leadership, asking God’s will be done in the life of our church. (Founders’ Day Litany 2015)

The meaning of Founders’ Day was articulated within the context of the history of the United States of America. “Most religious groups had their origin in some theological, doctrinal, or ideological dispute or concern. But the A.M.E. Church originated as a protest against the inhuman treatment which the helpless people of African descent were forced to accept from the white people belonging to the St. George… [Methodist Episcopal] Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This fact says to us that the organization of the A.M.E. Church was the result of racial discrimination rather than of any theological or doctrinal concern…”¹

199 years later we are still embroiled in a continuing struggle for our dignity and our rights as citizens of this country. As we observe the fiftieth anniversaries of Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965, the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, March 25, 1965 - an event highlighting institutionalized disenfranchisement of African Americans – and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on August 6, 1965, we are compelled to remember – and appreciate – the grit, wisdom, determination, and vision of every generation of AMEs who preceded us. Their lives mattered as much during their lifetimes as the health and wellbeing of our community matters now.

Today we gather to celebrate a religious institution which continues to survive, thrive, and remain relevant in a technology-driven, increasingly secular society dominated by every imaginable idol; where spirituality and religiosity are confused, conflated, and disingenuously insinuated into the fabric of our everyday lives. Today we celebrate a denomination which has contributed to, witnessed the growth, and development of the modern world since the late eighteenth century. Today we acknowledge the strength and enduring spirit of an organization which has been an integral part of this nation since the first shots of the American Revolution were fired. The African Methodist Episcopal Church has survived, thrived, and continues to serve its congregants through the administrations of forty presidents from James Madison to Barack Hussein Obama Junior. Today we gratefully acknowledge and affirm the vision of Richard Allen and the tireless efforts of our episcopal, connectional, conference branch, clergy, and lay leaders over the past one hundred ninety-nine years…”

Mr. Everett Williams Junior, brother of our guest preacher inspired us and set the tone with a stirring piano solo of the late Andrae Crouch classic, My Tribute. The Rev. Allen L. Williams Senior, D.Min, Presiding Elder, North Los Angeles District of the Southern California Conference of the Fifth Episcopal District, brought the congregation to its feet. His sermon subject, Let’s Go Fishing, was taken from Mark 5:1-11.  Presiding Elder Williams issued a thoughtful, powerfully delivered challenge on growing our denomination for the church of today and tomorrow. He pointed out that Jesus met his disciples at their place of work. “Prepare: reach before you teach. Cast your nets into deep water and the catch will be amazing.”

The Founders’ Day Committee hosted a luncheon following the service. Tables were decorated with Afrocentric cloths. Each one contained a placard with AME Church trivia. The stage of the Ruth Cousin Fellowship Hall featured a Black history display containing artifacts, literature, art work, and photographs assembled by Sister Anna Collins Stanback.

We are the voices, faces, and the future of African Methodism. Today we reaffirm who we are, where we’ve come from, and commit ourselves to continuing to serve God as proud members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. We are AMES!!! (The Meaning of Founders’ Day)

¹White, Andrew, Know Your Church Manual, 1965

About the author: Sister Theresa Bennett-Wilkes is a member of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Greensboro, North Carolina where the Rev. Alphonso McGlen is pastor. She is a lifelong AME, born and reared in the Fifth Episcopal District. She served as chair of Bethel’s Founders’ Day observances for 2014 and 2015.


-- The society is recognized for performances that include a gamut of choral genre, from works of African folk songs, spirituals, gospel, jazz, classical literature and much more. 

The nationally acclaimed Clark Atlanta University Philharmonic Society is coming to Big Bethel AME Church this month, and will perform at the historic church's annual Palm Sunday concert.  The concert is scheduled at 5:00 p.m. on March 29, 2015 at Big Bethel Church, located at 220 Auburn Avenue, in downtown Atlanta.

Boasting a century-old tradition of excellence and decades of talented students from the United States and overseas, the Philharmonic Society presents a repertoire of classic and popular works in the African American tradition, including spirituals, jazz and much more.  In addition, this special Palm Sunday performance will include a special artistic rendering of The Seven Last Words.

The choir has conducted special performances in conjunction with noted personalities -- including Nelson Mandela, Quincy Jones and Roberta Flack.  The Society’s performers were featured with mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves in a National Public Radio performance that resulted in a professional CD.  They also appeared with the Louisiana Symphony Orchestra during the 1993-1994 seasons in a nationally televised performance of African Portraits, and performed five concerts at Spivey Hall of Clayton State College, which aired on NPR.

At Carnegie Hall in New York, the choir appeared in the world premiere performance of The Nativity, a contemporary work by composer Ernestine Robinson.  The choir made a digital splash when more than four million viewers of a live CNN webcast viewed, and heard the chorus on “Chasing the Dream: Exploring Black History."

 The Philharmonic Society's stellar reputation grew in the 1990s under the leadership of its former director, Prof. Glynn E. Halsey. The ensemble is now continuing its tradition of excellence under the leadership of its conductor, Dr. Curtis Everett Powell.

Dr. Powell, who earned a degree at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in 1979, also studied music at a number of prestigious schools, including Howard University, and the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, New York.

Big Bethe African Methodist Episcopal Church continues to play an important role in helping the community.   It constructed Bethel Towers, low-income housing apartments, and Big Bethel Village, an independent living facility for aging but active adults. It established Bethel Trinity House, a transitional housing and rehabilitation program for men from alcohol and drug addiction. The Church was a partner in the building of “Renaissance Walk” on Auburn Avenue, a community of upscale condominiums and retail establishments.

Big Bethel AME Church is led by its senior pastor, the Reverend John Foster, Ph.D.  Pastor Foster and Usherette Board #2 proudly present Clark Atlanta University's Philharmonic Society.


By Dr. Wayman B. Shiver, Jr.

How does racism start and what conditions fuel it are questions that have been pondered for centuries.   In the fourth century the Roman Empire had instances of racism related to religion. (Columbia History of Western Philosophy pp 508 – 509)

As questions about race persisted over the centuries, skin color began to be viewed as the dividing line between superiority and inferiority.  The darker skin people became the inferior race and the lighter skin (white) race became the superior race.  This ideology was the belief of the majority race.

Attempts to answer questions about the origin and formation of negative racial attitudes often come to a dead end.  However, the defining characteristics of race appear to be skin color and other observable physical characteristics.  While climatic conditions affect skin color dramatically, perceptions of mental and spiritual capacities come into place as notions about race are formulated and articulated by researchers. Regardless, consciousness of race affects attitudes and behavior of human beings.  Yet, the origin and formulation of negative racial thinking are less important than the overt demonstration of behavior that has detrimental consequences based solely on perceptions of racial inferiority.  Provocative discussions on the nature of race are presented by Count Buffon Voltaire, Karl Linneaus, Henri Gregoir and Thomas Jefferson.

Frequently, in desperation to help their children understand when they encounter racism, many minority parents tell their children that negative racial attitudes are “stuck in the craw” of those who harbor such hatred.  This probably means that such attitudes are deeply rooted and are learned early in subliminal ways.

While “stuck in the craw” is an archaic phrase used to describe the stomach contents of slaughtered fowls, the phrase is analogous to deep rooted attitudes lodged in the psychic of avowed racists.  To combat this type of racism, verbal interaction about “stuck in the craw” attitudes is critical. 

Consequently, it is necessary to have direct verbal engagement between the verbose avowed racists and feisty minority representatives who are able to smoke out the fallacies in negative thinking commonly espoused in the media, especially talk radio and television.  Tempers flare and finger pointing generally occur when the subject of racism emerges.  Whatever forum and whatever the definition, racism is an undisputable part of the American landscape.  It is the driving force of culture and politics.

Progress has been made in the quest to quell racist behavior in America.  However, within the last decade there has been a tendency for the nation’s most vocal racists to state openly their contempt and hatred for certain non-white groups.  Fear and the perceived loss of power appear to be the basis of the current surge of racism.

Blatant racists boldly express their irrational opinions in the media.  Often their hurtful comments go unchallenged in the same media outlets that they use to convey their ideas.  This is probably the main reason that racists’ opinions are formed and thrive.

While the tendency to openly express racial hatred and biased feelings has been evident in the latter half of the 20th Century, it has become more pronounced since the election of President Barak Obama in 2008.  Open expressions of negative racial attitudes began to be more frequent at high levels of government.  This was evident when some republican politicians openly stated that their goal was to make sure that President Obama was a one term president.  When this goal was not met, the negative attitude toward the President hardened.  Subsequently, biased media commentators became highly audible in the general public.  In many instances they referred to the president of the United States as simply “Obama” instead of the customary President Obama or the President.

The most recent controversy is over President Obama’s executive order on immigration shows how fragile the American spirit is when the subject of race comes to the forefront.  One of the most disturbing facts is the increasing gall that some Americans have when they choose to openly express their racial attitudes. Before there is uproar about immigrants, Americans must recall history.  All our forefathers were immigrants.  The true Native Americans are the nations of the Cheyenne, Ute, Apache, Creek, etc., better known as the American Indians.  It’s no secret as to what happened to these Native Americans.  So, if all immigrants are returned to their native land, who would be left in the United States of America? 

Americans respect people with money regardless of their race or political views.  Hence, what we need at this juncture are wealthy minority entrepreneurs, more of the major media outlets and markets under the control of minority business owners.  The demise of minority owned and controlled press hampers alternative political analysis from reaching significant minority markets.  Wealth and control of popular media need to be infiltrated by more reasonable and informed people to combat racially charged propaganda.

In the area of race relations one of the most fundamental principles should be frequent opportunity for interracial groups to have in-depth conversations.  These verbal interactions should take place in an atmosphere of respect for divergent views and perceptions.  Too often conversations fail to be inclusive of representatives of affected races.  Conversations about race at a minimum must include credible representatives from the various races who are able to articulate their views and concerns on race without prejudice.  Aggressive individuals who are forceful in articulating their views are frequently excluded from these conversations.  Thus, the richness of their positions is not heard by those who need to hear different and opposing views.

Respectable research indicates that behavior can be changed in relatively short order with legal prompts; however, deeply ingrained negative attitudes are slow to change to a more positive   posture.  Apparently racial attitudes that are “stuck in the craw” take several generations to trend in a different direction.


Longmont, Colorado: In a church trial held Feb. 24 and 25 at Longs Peak United Methodist Church in Longmont, Colorado, the Reverend Filimone Havili Mone was found guilty of disobeying the order and discipline of the church. As part of the verdict, the jury voted unanimously to terminate Mone’s United Methodist membership in the Rocky Mountain Conference. Mone retains his ordination in the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga.

The verdict was delivered by a jury of 13 United Methodist clergy. Retired Bishop Alfred W. Gwinn Jr. presided over the trial.

“I will not stop praying for Rev. Mone and the Tongan United Methodist Church,” said Rev. Ron Hodges, counsel for the United Methodist Church. “I felt the case itself was clear and concise and the evidence before us was reliable and relevant.”

Rev. Keith Watson, counsel for Mone, said, “While the respondent and counsel team feel disappointment in the outcome, we commend the members of the jury for their careful, and probably painful, deliberations. I think that all in the court recognize the import of the decisions that have been made.”

Mone was formerly the pastor of Tongan United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2012, resident Bishop Elaine J. W. Stanovsky received concerns of suspected sexual abuse that occurred at Tongan UMC and had allegedly gone unreported by Mone. Following a supervisory review, at which time Mone was placed under suspension, it was found that he had failed to report the abuse to authorities in a timely manner in violation of church and state law. In 2013, Mone was tried in city court and negotiated a plea for failing to report abuse of a child, which is a misdemeanor. He was assigned and performed community service.

On Oct. 22, 2012, a just resolution agreement was negotiated and signed by Mone, Bishop Stanovsky and District Superintendent Sione Tukutau. Stanovsky lifted the suspension and dismissed the complaint against Mone after the agreement was reached. Mone did not return to Tongan UMC nor was assigned to a church, but continued on leave as a clergy member of the Rocky Mountain Conference.

“The jury’s decision recognizes Rev. Mone’s actions conflict with the values and practices of the United Methodist Church,” said Stanovsky. “We are sorry to lose this friend and colleague, who has served among us for many years, but know that God continues to work in this life.”

In a United Methodist church trial, an individual responds to a charge or charges of having violated denominational law, as set forth in the church’s Book of Discipline. A church trial is seen as a “last resort” after all other paths to resolve conflict has been exhausted.


*The Rev. Mark E. Whitlock, Jr.

The Church is required to be transparent, fiscally accountable, and work together to manage God’s money. Too many churches fail to show members the money. But when money is funny, then the begging starts. If you don’t want money to stop flowing to church then church leaders need to show members where the money is being spent in the church. The pastor, stewards, trustees, ministry leaders, and pew warmers have a fiduciary responsibility of being transparent, accountable and work together to manage the church’s money. It’s time to show members the money… 
Where is the money going? The IRS Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations requires churches and religious organizations, like many other charitable organizations, to qualify for exemption from federal income tax under IRC section 501(c)(3) and are generally eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. One method of to qualify for tax-exempt status is net earnings may not inure to the benefit of any private individuals and the organization’s purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy. The Federal Government is one of the churches greatest contributors. Churches don’t pay income taxes on tithes and offerings! Therefore, the church benefits from not paying taxes. Does your church have an open book policy to show members the money?  

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA) was signed on September 26, 2006. The intent is to empower every American with the ability to hold the government accountable for each spending decision. The end result is to reduce wasteful spending in the government.

President Barack Obama’s administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.  President Obama works daily to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.

Yet, some church fails to practice openness in church finance. The church should have nothing to hide. All members are welcome to see the record of fiscal contributions, expenses, properties and equipment owned by the church, and top church leaders’ compensation packages. The church should have regularly scheduled meetings reporting on all incomes, expenses, and church properties. This would help end unnecessary spending and poor money management. What does the church have to hide? God will hold us all accountable at the end…

Over next the two weeks, we will articulate methods of church budgeting, financial reporting to the board and membership, and how to develop a plan to raise money from non-members.  Remember, every member has a right to see the church books. Every member has a right to expect financial transparency, accountability, and the opportunity to see the money. The bible says in Roman 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

*The Rev. Mark Whitlock is a former Vice President of Wells Fargo Bank, Commercial Real Estate Division, President of FAME Renaissance at First AME Church, and currently pastors a three thousand member church in Irvine, CA and the serves as the Executive Director at the Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement at USC. He teaches church finance, community development, and civic engagement.


*The Reverend Darryl R. Williams

The President was absolutely correct in signing the Executive Order on Immigration. This order would allow for five million illegal immigrants to avoid deportation and seek driver licenses and work permits. This action was right on several points.

 We are a nation of immigrants! All of us come here from some-where. The President’s actions demonstrate that he still wants America to be a land of freedom and opportunity for everyone.

 It does not give every illegal immigrant full right as a citizen, but it does give them the opportunity to go through the procedures to obtain the necessary documents so that the hopeful outcome to live legally in America is a future reality. Many of these people are already being paid by those who opposed to the President’s Executive Order “under the table.” This gives them the opportunity to work legally and grows America’s Tax base.

The Republicans had ample opportunity to present a bill and did not! Fixing our Immigration system is an ethical issue, thus very appropriate for the President to take action considering Congresses inaction.

It is the height of hypocrisy for the Republicans to be upset about the President making an executive order, when President Ronald Reagan made twice as many!

Finally, I believe that magnitude of this action by President Obama solidifies the Hispanic vote for Democrats for years to come.  Considering the growing size of Hispanic vote, Republicans in Congress fighting it will be at their own peril.

*The Reverend Darryl R. Williams is the pastor St. Mark AME Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin


 Filed in Breaking News on February 19, 2015

On Monday February 16, more than 1,000 supporters of South Carolina State University held a rally at the State House to protest a proposal from a subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee that would close the school for two years. The good news is that the plan to close the university appears to be dead in the water.

But after hearing that the university has accumulated a deficit of $17 million, $4 million more than it had a year ago, the full House Ways and Means Committee voted unanimously to fire the university’s president Thomas Elzey and the entire board of trustees. The plan to oust the leadership will be included in the state’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Under the proposal, the university would be placed under the control of the state’s financial oversight board, led by Republican Governor Nikki Haley.

The new plan received unanimous support after U.S. Congressman Jim Clyburn and his wife, both graduates of South Carolina State University, released a statement supporting the plan to oust the university’s leadership team. In the letter, the Clyburn wrote that President Elzey “has precious little support from alumni and supporters, and minimal credibility with those who determine the school’s funding and academic status.”

Update: On Monday February 23, the board of trustees placed President Elzey on administrative leave and named W. Franklin Evans, interim provost at South Carolina State, as acting president.


*Chaplain Captain Samuel Doty Siebo

What is a goal? In this context, a goal is a desired objective set by an individual, a system or an institution. To be successful, you must set a goal then strive to accomplish it, but it can only be effective if it has action steps.

A decent goal must have the following characteristics: It must be reasonable, measurable and attainable. A reasonable goal is one that makes sense and is within your ability. A measurable goal can be quantified -- it must have a set timeframe for accomplishment and concrete means to accomplish the goal. An attainable goal is one that is not impossible to be accomplished.

These are great factors to consider by anyone who sets a goal. But I want to submit to you that there is another crucial fact that must be considered as you set a goal; that is, in order to be successful in achieving your goal, you must keep your eyes on the goal. You must maintain a focus on the desired objective and continue to be attentive to the process of achieving it.
From a biblical perspective, I am honored to introduce you to the Apostle Peter. In the Gospel According to St. Matthew 14:22-33, we are taught that Jesus and his disciples were conducting a field worship service. Great multitudes showed up to attend the service. As the evening came, Jesus instructed his disciples to board a boat and travel to the other side, while he sent the worshippers home. Once everyone departed that evening, Jesus went up a mountain alone to pray. His disciples on the boat had gone far out to sea, but the boat was being beaten by the angry waves.

Early in the morning, Jesus met his disciples by walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Jesus approaching the embattled boat, walking on the waters, scripture teaches that they were afraid and thought it was a ghost. The disciples cried out in fear because this had never happened in human history.

Jesus said to them, “Be of good cheer; it is I; do not be afraid.” Then the Apostle Peter said, “Lord, if it is you, let me come to you walking on the sea.” Jesus beckoned Peter to him, and as the apostle left the boat, he began to walk on the water, keeping his eyes on Jesus.

Peter had a goal; his goal was to get to Jesus. This goal was reasonable, measurable and attainable. It was reasonable because the one who had called him was also walking on the water. This goal was measurable because of the distance; he could measure the start point from the boat to the end point, Jesus. The goal was attainable because the command of Jesus was Peter’s empowerment. Those whom Jesus calls, he equips.

As Peter walked on the water, keeping his focus on Jesus, he was accomplishing his goal. But when Peter got distracted by what was happening around him and took his eyes off Jesus, his faith waivered. While he was only an arm stretch away from his goal, he looked away and saw the waves rolling vigorously toward him and the wind coming at him. His fear rose and he began to sink.

The Apostle Peter lost sight of the God who had called him to walk on the water. Friends, God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7 KJV). The Apostle Peter failed to accomplish his goal because he took his eyes off his goal, which is Jesus and focused on his fears! Keep your eyes on Jesus!

I encourage you never to lose sight of your goal. Keep your eyes on it! As you walk toward your goal, I submit to you that there will be distractions and fears all around you, but you must persist and move on. Keep your focus; keep your eyes on your goal. Do not fear the forces that come against you or surround you.

As you travel through 2015, I am sure many, if not all, of you have set a goal for this year. Please maintain your focus and keep your eyes on the goal you have set. If you do, you will definitely accomplish your goal. God bless you! God bless the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

*Chaplain Captain Samuel Doty Siebo is originally from the 14th Episcopal District (Liberia). He Serves in the 7th Episcopal District (South Carolina) and Represents the A.M.E. Church in the United States Army as a Chaplain.


The World Council of Churches (WCC) has strongly condemned the latest attacks and atrocities reported to have been committed by the so-called “Islamic State” against Assyrian Christians in Syria.

A statement issued on 25 February from the WCC headquarters in Geneva has expressed grave concern over the recent reports of attacks on Christian settlements, killings of civilians, abduction of some 100 people and provocation towards a mass exodus of communities.

“The World Council of Churches denounces these and all other attacks against this diverse social fabric, on which rest the prospects for an inclusive society and sustainable peace,” said Georges Lemopoulos, acting general secretary of the WCC.

“The WCC condemns all violent attacks against civilians as war crimes and crimes against humanity, whoever may commit them,” he said.

“We call for effective measures by the international community to protect civilians and the targeted communities from further attacks, and to ensure the perpetrators’ accountability for their crimes,” added Lemopoulos.

Read full text of the WCC acting general secretary’s statement: 


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

Based on Biblical Text: 1 Peter 3:14-15: “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.”

When life comes at us full force, our first instinct is to retreat to safety. We always run to prepare for the worst. The early Christians in our text were in just such a situation. They felt it was panic time. However, the Apostle Peter had some encouraging words for them.

As the tenets of Christianity were spreading, some were not happy. In fact some were even angry. In the midst of the persecution Peter writes to his brothers in ministry, sharing with them these words spoken a long time ago by the prophet Isaiah, changing them just a little bit. Peter says to folk then and to us now, even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. He wants saints to realize that we don’t have to be afraid. The Bible says, “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.”

When you are working for the Lord everybody is not happy. Everybody talks about how they love the Lord. The fact of the matter is if the question is asked, “Raise your hands if you love the Lord,” everybody would have their hands up. This of course begs the question, “Why are folk so upset when you keep on telling them what the Lord says?” When you tell folk about what the Lord says about their situation or their circumstances they aren’t happy. Some even get mad. You tell folk the truth about what the Lord really thinks about how they are living and you better be ready for a fight.

It is a fact that some folk don’t want to hear the truth. Some folk know the truth but they don’t want you to remind them of the truth. Some folk just can’t handle the truth. Some folk are afraid of the truth.

But the Prophet Isaiah tells us “Fear not their fear.” In other words don’t be afraid like they are afraid. The truth is the light! The truth is convicting, can be uncomfortable and downright scary. But don’t be scared; don’t be afraid. Don’t fear what folk who don’t know the truth are afraid of. Isaiah admonishes us to keep God in our heart and let Him handle our fear and deal with our dread.

Peter says, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.” Peter is calling on us to sanctify Christ. The question obviously is what does he mean?  How do we sanctify Jesus Christ?

When we look at the Lord’s Prayer for some help we will find the meanings of the words hallow and sanctify are the same here. The Lord’s Prayer says, “Hallowed be Thy name”. When we hallow the One who is already holy, we are saying that we recognize His holiness and we honor what we recognize.

Peter challenges us to set Jesus up on a pedestal in our hearts, giving Him the place of honor that is due Him. We are told to bow down to Jesus with all reverence and with all submission.

The question for us is, "Are we giving Jesus all the honor that is due Him?" Jesus has done so much for us. Jesus has gotten us out of trouble, healed our bodies and has rescued us from all manner of calamity. Are we giving Jesus all the respect and all the honor that He is due? Are we giving Jesus all the love in our heart, recognizing Him for who He is? Are our thoughts full of praise and reverence for Jesus?

The Bible says “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” If the issues of life pour out of our hearts then Jesus ought to be in control of our heart. Peter is calling all of us to allow Jesus to take up permanent residence deep down inside of us. He wants us to “hallow Him in our hearts”. In other words Jesus has to be our habitual thought, our central emotion and our dominant impulse.

If we sanctify Jesus in our heart, Jesus is in control!  If Jesus is in control, there is no spirit of fear; there is only a spirit of power. If Jesus is in control, there is a spirit of love and a spirit of sound mind.

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


*Dr. Oveta Fuller

Influenza Decreasing for 2014-15

According to the Centers for the Control and Prevention of Disease (CDC), the major circulating H3N2 influenza virus strain remains widespread across the nation. However, key indicators such as new reported flu-like cases indicate that influenza for winter 2015 is beginning to decline. This is expected as we move toward the time that ends a typical 13-15 week influenza season.

For the 2014-15 season, 60% of the flu-related hospitalizations have been in persons age 65 or older. Interestingly, 90% of those hospitalized also have at least one underlying chronic health issue such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease or asthma. These persons with a chronic disease can most benefit from the protection of a seasonal vaccine. The easy way to remember to get immunized against influenza is to link getting the flu shot with the “fall back” change from day-light savings time in early October.  Imagine that the time of “fall back” asks the question, “Are you protected from flu this year?”

If you get flu, when taken early at the first sign of symptoms, anti-virals can help minimize severity and duration.  Anti-virals are recommended for individuals with severe underlying complications.

In the 2014-15 flu season, virus strains in the influenza vaccine did not highly match the actual circulating virus strains. Even so, the “mismatched” vaccine reduced the chances of having to go to the doctor for influenza by about 23% compared to over 65% reduction in a typical year. Immunization helps increase overall resistance to invading influenza virus strains.

We hope that closing out February brings farewell to flu, at least for a season.

HIV/AIDS- National Week of Prayer for Healing

March 1-8 is the 2015 National Week of Prayer for the Healing of HIV/AIDS (NWPHA).  NWPHA is the new name given in 2009 for what began in 1999 as the Black Week of Prayer for the Healing of HIV/AIDS. The website www.balmingilead.org/nwpha provides access to resources- a congregation planning guide, family prayers and scriptural references for Christian and Islamic congregations.

Balm in Gilead will feature its “Power Series” each day at 2 p.m. starting Monday March 2-5. The one hour lectures with different topics each day can be accessed after registering at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/9125238789466480386.

The NWPHA website also features an interactive map “Shine the Light” with locations of churches, faith-based, colleges or universities and other organizations that registered their programming activities planned for the week of March 1-8.

There were refreshing surprises from viewing the “Shine the Light” map.  Its tabs, when touched, provide the name and address of an organization that has registered an NWPHA event. Perhaps not surprising, the tabs are most dense in states along the east coast of the USA. These highly populated states and the south are locations where HIV/AIDS prevalence is highest. These states also have the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in African American communities. Tabs of registered organizations are distributed throughout the USA. They identify locations for a range of community organizations, schools and churches of different denominations that registered an event for NWPHA.

One refreshing surprise was the frequency that touching a tab brought up a name that included “AME Church” in the information. This could be AME or AME Zion churches.  As hoped for but not proven, some AME Churches are addressing HIV/AIDS. They are making the responsible timely effort to inform and serve congregations and community in seeking to get to zero with AIDS. No matter how large or small, these churches are engaged.

Kudos to you and blessing in your ministry efforts!

Here are some randomly chosen examples of registered churches with AME in the name. Is your church in this number? 

Saint Andrews AME Church in Andrews, S.C., Clarke AME Zion in Waterford, CT, Little Zion AME Zion Church in Opelika, AL, Metropolitan AME Zion in Norfolk, VA, White Rock AME Zion Church in Alberta, VA, Macedonia A.M.E. Church in New York, Graham AME Church in Charleston, S.C., Belmont AME Zion Church in Worchester, MA, Bethel AME Church in Lynn, MA, St. Frances AME Church in Port Chester, NY, Friendship AME Church in Browns Mills, NJ, New Bethel AME Church in Willow Grove, PA, Mother Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia, PA, Reid Temple AME Church in Glenn Dale, MD, Community of Hope AME Church in Hillcrest Heights, MD, Alleyne AME Church in Alexandra, VA, Hunter Memorial AME Church in Suitland, MD, Clinton AME Church in Rockville, MD, John Wesley AME Zion Church in Washington, DC, St. James AME Zion in Red Springs, NC, Historic Macedonia AME Church in Fernandina Beach, FL, Mount Zion AME Church in Riverview, FL, Collins Temple AME Church  in St. Petersburg, FL, Hurst Chapel AME Church in Winter Haven, FL, St. Mark’s AME Church in St. Petersburg, FL, St. James AME Church in Clearwater, FL, St. Mary AME Church in Addis, LA, Wright Chapel AME Church in San Francisco, CA, St. James AME Zion in San Mateo, CA, Corona Community AME Church in Corona, CA, Shorter AME Church in Denver, CO, Newman AME in Pontiac, MI, Brown Chapel AME Church in Ypsilanti, MI, St. Paul AME Zion in Detroit, MI, Ward Chapel AME Church in Peoria, IL, St. Paul AME Church in Springfield, IL, New Life AME Church in Chicago, IL, Coppin AME Church in Chicago, IL, Woodlawn AME Church in Chicago, IL,  St. Mark AME Zion in Cincinnati, OH, Louisville District-AME Zion Churches in Louisville, KY and Taylortown AME Zion Church in Louisville, KY.

Viewing the locations where someone took the time to register their NWPHA event was intriguing. One of every 4-5 tabs randomly touched was for locations of an AME or AME Zion Church. 
That’s a positive observation from the “Shine the Light” site.
First, we can celebrate that AME Churches showed up in the numbers. They show up whether the congregation is smaller or larger, rural or urban.

Second, registrations seem to run in clusters. For instance churches of one denomination seem to appear frequently in a given city or region. Perhaps that indicates an engagement trend by middle leadership (presiding elders, health ministry area leaders or strong opinion leader clergy, layperson, missionary or youth). These leaders influence an area. Or, perhaps actions of one congregation influence another to engage. This could explain the geographical clustering effect.

On the positive side, “Shine the Map” data indicate that mobilization against HIV/AIDS is happening!

On the other hand, tabs are not all over the map. Though we are the first denomination founded by and for people of African descent, AME churches do not come up most frequently, at least not in my random exploration of the site. Is this acceptable for the AMEC as long as we are getting the job done in our communities to increase wellness?

Can we do better? We can do better.

Check out the NWPHA “Shine the Light” registration website. More importantly, check with your churches’ Health Ministry (start one if there is not such). Help to plan an event for next week, March 1-8 or after. Register the event to assist the Balm in Gilead data collection. Indulge people like me who actually go through the tabs by registering your church and its event at the “Shine the Light” site.

In 2012 in the USA, African Americans are 12% of the population, but still 42% of the HIV new cases. In 2012 the estimated risk of contracting a new HIV infection was 7 times more likely for black men than white men and 20 times more likely for black women than white women.

For another fascinating interactive map, go to AIDS vu map at www.aidsvu.org/map. Use the pull down tabs to look at the level of HIV among blacks in the USA. You will see the highest numbers in states along the east coast and in the south. 

These maps show why we cannot slow down, rest or be complacent in our efforts. Every AME church, university and organization that serves black folks can engage in education, prevention or care to eliminate AIDS and HIV infection.

Close out of February 2015 does not yet bid farewell to HIV/AIDS.
*Dr. Oveta Fuller is an Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and Faculty of the African Studies Center at the University of Michigan and Adjunct Faculty at Payne Theological Seminary. An Itinerant Elder in the 4th Episcopal District, she conducts HIV/AIDS prevention research in Zambia and the USA. She lived in Zambia for most of 2013 as a J. William Fulbright Scholar. 


One of the more important activities in the African American Christian experience is telling a testimony.  This speaking opportunity provides believers a chance to communicate with others about the joy, trials and tribulations and the myriad of ‘case studies’ confirming the goodness of God.  Normally, these verbal confessions are offered during prayer meetings or prior to worship services.  If there are many who want to “testify” the worship leader may ask for ‘popcorn testimonies’ where respondents give brief, but inspiring words of hope and comfort for the congregation.  Your testimony is not just your story, but it becomes a story for other believers and nonbelievers in our journey to understand and receive the lessons Christ is teaching. 

Today’s Church School lesson from the Gospel of John examines how the role of John the Baptist’s testimony was used to confirm the deity of Christ.  Speak now or the rocks will cry out!

John the Baptist may be cagey about his own identity, but he is not so about Jesus' identity (vv. 29-34). John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus was clear, consistent and corroborated.  There are two parts, the first identifying Jesus as the Lamb of God who comes after the Baptist (vv. 29-31) and the second identifying Jesus as the one upon whom the Spirit rests, the Son of God (vv. 32-34). Taken together these verses read like a summary of his testimony, though there is no indication of where he gives it or of who hears it.

St. John Chapter 1 introduces us to four important truths about Jesus, one of which has already been introduced (preexistence; cf. Jn 1:1-18), another that is not developed further (Lamb of God), a third that is developed later (Spirit) and a fourth that is central in John (Son of God). We also see the Baptist as a significant model of humility, openness and obedience.

A reliable testimony inspires confidence.  John the Baptist was confident in his pronouncement about the deity of Jesus.  He wanted others to have the same convictions that he had about Jesus the Person and the Savior.  Reliable testimony is convincing when others can see it is communication purged of ambiguities and contradictions.  Our discipleship activities require our message to be authentic if the goal is helping others understand the joy they can have in Christ.

For many African Americans November 24, 2014 will be a date of infamy.  A Grand Jury in Ferguson, Missouri decided to not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown.  Shortly after the decision anger erupted, protests proceeded and a descent into social chaos ensued with looting, vandalism, and rioting leaving a wake of economic destruction for business establishments in Ferguson.  The Grand Jury’s decision was influenced by a careful examination of the forensic evidence and the eyewitness testimonies shared by those who alleged to have seen the confrontation between Officer Wilson and Mr. Brown.  The testimonies presented to the Grand Jury were not uniformly consistent.  Some testimonies even contradicted previous statements eyewitnesses shared.  Some testimonies supported the widely held view that Mr. Brown was a mere victim of an overly aggressive white cop who targeted an unarmed black suspect and shot him dead.  Some testimonies, even those made by black witnesses, supported the position of Officer Wilson that Mr. Brown’s actions provoked the officer to use lethal force for his own personal security.  The conflicting testimonies created a conundrum for the Grand Jury.  The Grand Jury looked for a reliable source of testimony but couldn’t find any.  Reliable testimony helps to sort out fact from fiction, myth from reality, truth from a lie.  One of the key lessons from Ferguson is testimony must be clear and consistent if we hope to achieve desirable social goals.

*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

I was pleasantly reminded recently of how far technology has come in recent years.  I “upgraded” to a new iPad last week, because my old one was so stretched on capacity and functionality that I could no longer synchronize it with “iTunes” on my computer.  I went to my local Apple Store, anticipating a more than thirty minute wait while the technicians physically connected my old iPad to my new one to transfer my information, but I instead walked out the door with my new iPad ready to use in fifteen minutes.

That happened because I had backed up my old iPad to “iCloud,” that regularly uploaded and updated everything on my old iPad to a central data storage facility.  All that was required when I upgraded was to activate my new iPad and then download a “mirror image” of what was already stored in iCloud from my old iPad to my new iPad.

I “synced” my old iPad to iCloud on my home computer years ago and then forget that I did so.  There was no hint or sign that my data was being continually stored and I didn’t see anything going into the “cloud,” but my data was there when I needed to retrieve it.

Remember my “upgrade” experience as you cope with what life brings your way.  This world and those in it often leave us stressed and struggling to handle all that comes at and overloads us, but we can still find hope.  Life’s challenges may consume and complicate our lives, but we still have a Savior who can fix us, repair us, restore us and make us brand new.  We may never physically see the Lord Jesus working in our lives, but He’s always there - working in the background to assure that we’re well, safe and whole in ways that are visible in the daily blessings that we sometimes don’t see, consider or expect.

Look to the Lord Jesus Christ, in spite of life’s visible challenges.  You may not physically see Him, but He’ll be with you in life’s rough times to bless you, encourage you, restore you, and show you in countless ways why those who wore the chains of American slavery said, “Up above my head, I see glory in the air; there must be a God somewhere!”

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

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 are saddened to announce the passing of Annie Northcutt, mother-in-law of Karen Bluning Osborne, Executive Assistance to Dr. Richard A. Lewis (Nashville, TN Office), Chief Financial Officer AME Church.  Mrs. Northcutt passed last evening, Sunday, February 22, 2015.

Pending Service arrangements will be forthcoming.

Dr. Richard Allen Lewis
Treasurer/CFO AME Finance Department
512 8th Ave South
Nashville, TN 37203

Telephone: (615) 259-3771
Fax: (615) 259-3776


Sister Stephanie Pinckney passed away on Wednesday, February 18, 2015. She is the sister of the Reverend Linda Brown, Local Elder of Historic Saint Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lexington, Kentucky. We solicit your prayers.

The arrangements:

Thursday, February 26, 2015
Viewing:  10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Funeral:  11:00 AM
Little Rock Bibleway Church
5030 Sheriff Road N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20019

Telephone: 202-397-3000

Condolences may be sent to:

The Family of Stephanie Pinckney
615 60th Place
Fairmount Height, MD 20747


We regret to announce the passing of Deaconess Irene Butler, the mother of the Rev. Colleen Butler, Itinerant Elder and associate minister at Campbell AME Church. Deaconess Butler was also the “mother” of Campbell AME Church.

The following information has been provided regarding the funeral arrangements.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Viewing: 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Homegoing Service:  10:00 a.m.

Campbell A.M.E. Church
1657 Kinsey Street
Philadelphia, PA 19124

Telephone: (215) 288-2747

The Rev. Michael D. Chism, pastor


Rolling Green Memorial Park
1008 West Chester Pike
West Chester, PA 19382

Telephone:  (610) 692-2292

Condolences may be sent to:

The Rev. Colleen Butler
4523 Mulberry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19124


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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