The Reverend Dr. Johnny Barbour, Jr., Publisher
The Reverend Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III, the 20th Editor, The Christian Recorder

--Richard Allen’s Birthday – February 14, 1760
-- Jarena Lee’s Birthday – February 11, 1783
-- Ash Wednesday- February 18, 2015
-- Easter Sunday: April 5, 2015


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

I have written several TCR Editorials about branding and have particularly addressed the “AME brand.”

I even had several persons to ask me what I meant about “AME brand?”  I even heard someone opine that we “don’t have a brand.”  I completely disagree and would go so far as to say, if we don’t have a brand, we should have one and every AME should be aware of our brand and should be able to communicate verbally and non-verbally the AME brand. 

Every denomination has a brand. Parishioners may not verbalize the brand, but they intuitively communicate the denomination’s brand whenever they interact with among themselves or with other people.

My late maternal grandmother, Eva M. Price joined the AME Church when she was in about fifty years old. When she joined the AME Church, she put her heart into the work of the church.  She loved the AME Church with all of her heart and was a diligent worker in her local church.  She taught Sunday School, sang in the choir, served on various boards in the church. She loved working with young people. She loved the AME Church and the AME Church loved her. She was “Sister Price” and because of her, my nickname around Bethel AME Church in Ardmore was “Pricey.”  I called her “Momma.” When I announced my call to the AME ministry, “Momma” was ecstatic and was always my biggest supporter. She loved her pastors and she loved that her grandson was an AME clergyperson.

She grew up in the Baptist church until she joined the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1947.  She followed all of the AME beliefs, but there was just one area that kept her from being the most devout AME “on the planet.” There was one thing that she couldn’t reconcile in her mind. She loved the AME worship and was committed to it.

She was committed to the episcopacy and was involved in what was going on in the connectional church. She was reconciled to the church’s call for “dollar money” or conference claims. She paid her conference claims and thought every member should do the same. She was a stickler about church members providing financial support to the church. 

She was reconciled to the pastoral appointment system, though she grieved the couple of instances when her beloved pastors were transferred, but she always came to love the assigned pastor.

With all of her love of the AME Church, there was one “grit in her crawl” and one thing she couldn’t reconcile in her mind.

She grew up a Baptist as a young child and as a young adult and for a part of her adult life.

The one thing with which she couldn’t reconcile - was the strong brand of the Baptist church of baptism by immersion and the follow-on of a person’s acknowledgement of Christ before baptism.     

Even after I finished seminary, I couldn’t get her to reconcile that one thing with which she couldn’t get her mind around.  I thought then, “The Baptists have done an outstanding job of branding one of their major tenets.”

Whatever else anyone can say about the Baptist church, good, bad or indifferent; the one thing everyone can acknowledge is that the Baptists have worked their brand of “baptism by immersion.”  Baptists, all over the world, work the brand of baptism by immersion, which is among the first thing that a person thinks of when they think of a Baptist Church.

As an aside, black Baptist parishioners know how to acknowledge their church and their pastor when they visit other churches.

The Baptists work the brand that “every local church is an entity to itself and is an autonomous body.”  They work the brand of “no higher denominational authority can tell a local church what to do.”  I would dare say that every Baptist I have ever met knows the Baptist brand of baptism by immersion and the autonomy of every local Baptist church!

Not only the Baptist, but the Pentecostals know the various facets of their brand.

The original group of the Pentecostal movement came out of the Holiness movement of John Wesley and the Methodist tradition.  When people think of Pentecostals, I suspect that most people think or their doctrinal foundation of the “baptism of the Spirit,” as evidenced by speaking in tongues or other signs and in baptism by immersion.

If someone mentioned “speaking in tongues” most people wouldn’t associate that with Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Roman Catholic or Presbyterians, although some adherents of those denominations may “speak in tongues.”  But most often, “speaking in tongues” is a brand of Pentecostal churches and of the charismatic movement.

Methodism is unique

There are many things that make Methodists unique and if you add a couple of things about AME worship, such as the Decalogue, offertory and the style of worship in many AME Churches; make us as AMEs, unique. Astute parishioners can distinguish our worship from the worship in many United Methodist Churches.

A couple of things that make Methodists unique include  the belief that God reaches out to us through God’s prevenient grace, that sanctification begins with justification, and in the theology of grace and assurance and the universality of God’s grace; not just to us, but to all of God’s creation.  We, Methodists, encourage and permit people to use logic and reason in all matters of faith.

In Holy Communion, Methodism stands alone with the “Open Table.”  Some denominations practice “closed” or “fenced” Communion and other denominations practice “Open Communion. 

Simply stated, “closed” or “fenced” Communion means that one has to be a member of that faith or denomination to participate in receiving of Holy Communion. The Roman Catholic Church, Lutheran churches, the Eastern Orthodox Church, Baptists, Pentecostals and Latter Day Saints practice "closed" or "fenced" Communion.

Some denominations practice “Open Communion.”  Many Protestant Christian churches practice open communion in which baptized communicants from other denominations may take Communion.

The Anglican Church, the Evangelical Free Church, the Church of God, Community Churches, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Presbyterian Church in America, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the United Church of Canada, United Church of Christ practice are among the denominations that practice “Open Communion.”

Methodist churches practice the “Open Table,” which in the AME liturgy, extends the invitation to “All who truly and earnestly repent of your sins and are in love and charity with your neighbor and intend to lead a new life…,” together with their children, are invited to receive Communion. Undergoing Baptism is not a prerequisite for receiving Communion, but if unbaptized people "regularly take Holy Communion, pastors are encouraged to talk with and encourage parishioners to be baptised.

The “Open Table,” baptism of infants, God’s prevenient grace and the emphasis on holiness are a part of our brand. We need to unashamedly proclaim our beliefs so people will know our brand.

We should loudly share our practice of baptising infants. Whenever I have had the opportunity to talk with immersionists about infant baptism, they almost always shake their heads in agreement with my position but add, “You make good points, but baptism by immersion is the way I was brought up…”

Yep, even after I had finished seminary, I couldn’t get my own grandmother, “Momma,” to reconcile herself that one thing with which she couldn’t get her mind around – baptism by immersion and infant baptism. No argument of mine that Methodism is inclusive and we do not reject people because to their age, race or gender. I gave her the statistics that verified that most of the world’s Christian faith groups, baptized infants. 

I tried to show her that Jesus never excluded children in his ministry. As a matter of fact, Jesus encouraged the presence of children and said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me…”

It didn’t matter that I tried to persuade her by sharing the instances in the book of Acts where “whole households” were baptised in the apostolic church.  On the “confession of faith” of the Philippian Jailer, his whole household was baptised. 

And, on the notion of immersion, she wouldn’t be convinced by the earliest extant images in the catacombs that show Jesus being baptised with John pouring water his head while standing in ankle-deep water.

Over the years, I have thought, “The Baptists have kept their brand as it relates to baptism and they have done it right.” 

And in the passing years I have wondered if parishioners like “Momma” had received intense theological, doctrinal and religious training. 

Do we take the time, as a denomination to train and retrain those who lead our ministry and do we train and retrain the lay leaders who stand before our parishioners?   Are our ministers adequately trained?  Does the AME Church cross-check those pastors who attended non-Methodist seminaries to insure that they are well-versed in the tenants of our faith and the ethnic “flavor” of our congregations?

The African Methodist Episcopal Church has some unique “branding irons” in social action and involvement in human rights.  We have “branding irons” in our rich history, doctrine, polity and worship. 

We need to realize that the AME Church is a leader for human and religious rights, not only in America, but abroad in every country in which the AME Church has a presence. We have a brand and every AME should be cognizant of our brand. 

Even before “branding” was a focus of study at business schools, some religious denominations knew the importance of reinforcing their theological, religious and denominational brand. They may not have been thinking about “branding,” but they understood the value of uncompromisingly reinforcing their religious beliefs and traditions.

The AME Church has a rich history that we all can revel in, but the present needs our urgent attention. We need to reinforce our brand as a connectional church or strategize in ways to rebrand, if that’s needed; but rebranding by building on the brand-foundation that has superbly served us.


--To the Editor:

RE: TCR Editorial - “And Are We Yet Alive, to See Each Other’s Face” - In this Sacred Profession

I found your editorial and comments on the Kentucky Annual Conference very interesting. I wish all of our Annual Conferences could be so forward thinking. The "excuse" some bishops seem to be using for the manner in which they receive offerings is that if they don't make a big deal out of it, pause from worship to do it, brow beat attendees into submission to do it - they won't raise an "adequate" offering to offset the cost of hosting an annual conference.

And I've asked, in confidence, members of the finance committee who are my colleagues, if we're raising more by the "traditional" way the offering is being "raised" and they have told me no.

I think it’s wonderful when the needed funds can be raised before annual conference so that attendees can concentrate on worship, reporting and training, and not money.

What you have described in your editorial seems ideal and a model that we all should follow. I wish more of us could have that testimony.

Name Withheld


-- Editorial: Duke, Paul Quinn and Abilene Christian University do poverty-busting in Dallas

-- Police chief to black churches: ‘We can’t do this without you guys’

--National NAACP president to preach at Colorado Springs-area church

Brooks, an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, will deliver the sermon at New Jerusalem Baptist Missionary Baptist Church in...


-- Classes Start January 2015

DALLAS C Dec. 18, 2014 - Paul Quinn College is excited to announce the launch of its inaugural Religious Studies program, an inventive area of study that will step outside the box of which most collegiate religious degree programs tend to fit. Classes in the program start in January in conjunction with PQC’s spring 2015 semester.

“Paul Quinn College’s new Religious Studies Program puts it on the cutting edge of education in a world where diverse religions provide meaning, inspiration and controversy in our human culture,” said Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, chairwoman of Paul Quinn’s Board of Trustees and presiding prelate of the Tenth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Bishop McKenzie applauded Paul Quinn’s President Michael J. Sorrell, Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Kizuwanda Grant and the program’s new chair, the Rev. Dr. C. Dennis Williams, for taking the bold step of instituting the program at the college.

“President Sorrell reached back into the history of the college to bring forward again a discipline that prepares students for religious vocations as well as enhances studies in business, law and education. Dr. Grant has done a herculean job in pulling the Bachelor of Science degree format together. Her work is stellar and it shows, because the college’s accrediting body, the Transnational Association of Christian College and Schools, swiftly supported the program. And Rev. Williams brings to this new program at its genesis a wealth of education and experience. He has led Doctorate of Ministry cohorts at United Theological Seminary and now will take the helm of this new degree that will provide excellent preparation for the serious servant leader in a pluralistic society,” Bishop McKenzie added.

The fresh new program will examine the role of religion and spirituality in society and articulate the connection between religion and ethical behavior. The program will introduce students to a thorough theological and biblical platform within the context of the African American experience, and focus on guiding students to become critical thinkers and problem solvers.

“Our new Religious Studies program is designed to enable those who have been called in any denomination or faith to construct institutions that are both theologically and economically viable,” President Sorrell said. “This program is yet another example of Paul Quinn College's focus on developing leaders who are capable of ‘nation building’ in every field.”

A unique feature of the program is the role that entrepreneurship will play in its curriculum structure. The college uses a teaching and learning approach known as Entrepreneurial Thought and Action (ETA). ETA encourages creative, out-of-the-box thinking in order to solve old and new challenges. The Religious Studies program will integrate this approach into its course offerings. In addition, feedback collected during the planning stages for the program showed strong support for an academic program that addressed the business and management side of ministry, Dr. Grant said.

“The Religious Studies major was created not only to provide strong preparation in Biblical studies, Christianity and the history and teachings of the A.M.E. church, but also to coach future church and faith-based organization leaders through the process of planning, implementing and sustaining their ministries and organizations,” Dr. Grant said. “Entrepreneurial thinking, finance, resource management and communication skills are key for anyone in a leadership role, so why not for a pastor or lay leaders in the church?”

Dr. Williams, pastor of Smith Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Dallas, a former member of PQC’s Board of Trustees and an alumnus of the college, will assume his position as chair of the program on January 1, 2015. Dr. Williams has extensive experience as a pastor with 29 years in the AME Church family and 14 years as a seminary professor. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Religion from Paul Quinn College, a Master of Biblical Studies degree from Bethany Divinity College and Seminary, a Master of Divinity degree from United Theological Seminary. He earned his Doctorate of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary. Dr. Williams will be responsible for teaching, recruiting and program coordination, and will work directly with Dr. Grant to ensure the program is successful and meets the needs of the community.

“The Religious Studies program is designed to prepare leaders to be critical thinkers, entrepreneurs, and biblical apologists and to serve in church ministries, para-church ministries, faith-based community organizations, and church administration,” Dr. Williams said. “Students who complete the program may immediately enter into the career field of their choice or continue on to a graduate level of study in religion, theology, or similar fields. I am truly excited to be a part of such a wonderful opportunity at my alma mater.”

Applications are now being accepted. Classes will begin January 12, 2015; online and weekend class options will be available. Interested students may apply by visiting www.pqc.edu and clicking on the “Apply” tab for more information.

About Paul Quinn College

Paul Quinn College, a finalist on the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll and the 2011 HBCU of the Year, is a private, four-year liberal arts-inspired college founded by and affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The College was founded in Austin, Texas, on April 4, 1872, and is one of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The College provides a quality, faith\based education that addresses the academic, social and Christian development of students and prepares them to be servant leaders and agents of change in the global marketplace. Members of the College’s student body, alumni, faculty and staff, called Quinnites, embrace the institutional ethos of “WE over Me” and are dedicated to honoring the “Four Ls of Quinnite Leadership,” which are: Leave places better than you found them; Lead from wherever you are; Live a life that matters; and Love something greater than yourself.

Learn more at www.pqc.edu> and its online degree completion program at http://onlinebusiness.pqc.edu/.


Wayman A.M.E. Church 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. services online. View the worship service live or later. Wayman AME church is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the Rev. Dr. Janet Johnson is the pastor.

To view the worship service on your computer:

On your iPhone, Android or table: 1) Download the “free” app Sunday Streams 2) Enter Church code: WaymanAMEChurchMN

Wayman AME Church
1221 - 7th Avenue, North
Minneapolis, MN 55411

Telephone: (612) 374-4711


- Written by Christopher Pleasant, 11 years old and read at St. Peter AME Church in St. Louis, Missouri, where the Rev. Steven Shepard, Sr. is the pastor

January 2015

Good Morning, St. Peter AME Church family: Could you spare a few minutes of your time?

Let us pray:

Dear Lord let the meditation of my heart and the words of my mouth be acceptable in your presence your father and let my words get through to everyone in this church today in Jesus name we pray. Amen.   

Please open your bibles to Mark 12:28-31. It reads: “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”  “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

I’m sure everyone is aware of everything going on in Ferguson. Now, as a black community, we see the enemy as the white man, but we can’t call anyone the enemy until “we,” as a whole, stop killing each other. Now we can call the white man the cause of our extinction, but it is actually our fault. If you look at Mark 12:31, it says “The second is this ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Since we are a Black community we are all neighbors, we need to love and respect each other. But how can you kill someone but still love them? You can respect someone without loving someone. I was always taught to treat people how I wanted to be treated. So do you think those people would like to die by being killed by their own people?  Now I, as a young Black male, am scared that if I walk out the house a St. Louis police officer might shoot me down or someone who looks like me may run up and shoot me dead. Either way, I’m not safe in this environment.

Now we know Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo are 110% guilty. But when you take that away, what do you see in our black community? Many are Black-on-black murders. It isn’t a problem when we kill each other, but all of a sudden we jump up when a white man kills one of us! I feel where they are coming from, BUT we don’t do anything when we kill our own. We walk up and down the street killing each other. I can’t even predict what is next. Sometimes I sit down and ask myself what would God do; better yet what can we do? Now if you want to kill someone please kill them with kindness. 

Please bow your heads and close our eyes, as we pray: Dear Almighty God, we come here before you just to give thanks to all you have done for us and will continue to do for us. Help us, guide us on the right path, and make this New Year our year where we all are on track. Stay with us and guide us through this year. And for all who haven’t found you, put them on the right track to finding you. Please keep watch over everyone in this church this Sunday Almighty God. I plan no evil toward my neighbor and I will do my part to help my neighbor and dwell trustingly near me. Help me to fulfill your law, Lord, by loving my neighbor as myself. There is no greater commandment than this and I want to obey you, Father. Keep young people like and my elders in your close protection. In Jesus Name we pray. Amen.

So let’s not just talk about it. Put this plan into action, because a plan without action is wishful thinking.

- Submitted by Sister Terri Moore, Webmaster and Administrative Assistant to the Rev. Steven Shepard, Sr.


The youth at Embry AME Church in College Park, Maryland have been actively involved in many programs at the church under the leadership of our Youth Minister, the Rev. Leslye Dwight.

The youth have been worshipping and praising the Lord in many ways.  During the fall season, they had a large birthday to celebrate their “New Life” in Christ.  All of them had all given their lives to Christ and wanted to celebrate the new understanding of what God has done, can do and will do in their lives.  What a Celebration!

These youth meet every Tuesday evening, 25-30 strong, to learn about God, life in general and they get to discuss issues affecting their lives now as well as learning about the AME Church.
They are also active in the youth choir, mime ministry and some with the liturgical dancers.

They work closely with the YPD (Maxine Gross, Director) and the Christian Education Depart (Leanne Douglas, Director).

As God continues to bless them, the members of Embry embrace their new understanding and are there to help them along. The Rev. Dr. Edna Canty Jenkins is the pastor of Embry AM Church.
The Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Braxton, Presiding Elder


Dr. Moses Ochonu, History Professor at Vanderbilt University speaks on Voice of Africa about the crisis in Nigeria. He provides commentary on Boko Haram, the plight of displaced persons in Nigeria and the forthcoming elections on the "Africa54" VOA (Voice of America) Television show.

Link to the video segment:

Submitted by Dr. Dennis C. Dickerson, James M. Lawson, Jr. Professor of History, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee


By Verna Bell Okali

A team of presenters, all members of Greater Turner Chapel AME Church in Atlanta, Georgia, hosted a forum to raise awareness of people with Alzheimer’s and the challenges facing caregivers.  October, November, and December 2014, spear marked the dates for the series on Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss.  The presenters engaged participants in a spirited and interactive discussion on available resources and services and the precise measures for securing the help needed for those providing care to victims of the disease. 

Practitioners in the medical and health professions, the team recounted compelling information for attendees on the nature and importance of identifying the disease, and its impact on the family and persons providing care.  Participants freely expressed their concerns.  Several participants admitted that they were not aware of the myriad of services available to caregivers.

The panel included Sisters Cynthia Grant and Annie Sherman, both retired registered nurses, and Sister Janice Warner, a graduate of the College of Nursing, East Carolina University and a pediatric registered nurse in the Atlanta area.

The initiative, precipitated at Greater Turner Chapel by Sister Thelma Melton Riddle, is one of the pioneers in the faith-based community.  Sister Riddle, Social Worker/Director of the Savvy Caregivers Program, serves on the Advisory Board of Emory University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.  She was pivotal in Greater Turner Chapel’s designation as a location for community caregiving and training workshops.  She has pledged her commitment to assisting caregivers by providing them with the resources to reduce the stress and disruption in their lives brought on by their roles of providing care to victims of Alzheimer’s and dementia.  Caregivers are frequently in need of support in the provision of care.

According to recent statistics, over fifty million people worldwide are inflicted with the disease, making it one of the leading causes of death in the United States.  Presenter Cynthia Grant reported that because caregivers lack specific services and resources to deal with their needs, many of them endure isolation, burnout, and often neglect their health issues.  Collaborative programs, she continued, are working directly with faith-based and other community-outreach organizations to combat particular caregiving encounters.

The goal of the forums is to identify these challenges and pair caregivers with existing and emerging opportunities for in-home care of persons suffering from memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.  Future discussions are planned and opened to the community.


6th Session of the Northwest Alabama Annual Conference
Tuesday, September 15, 2015 – WMS Annual Convention
Tuesday – Saturday, September 15–19, 2015 - Business, Training & Worship

(Opening Annual Service, Wednesday, September 16, 2015 at 7 p.m.)
St. John AME Church, Birmingham
Daniel Payne Community Plaza
1500 Daniel Payne Drive, Birmingham, AL 35214

The Reverend Mashod A. Evans, Host Pastor
The Reverend Dwight E. Dillard, Host Presiding Elder

6th Session of the Southeast Alabama Annual Conference
Wednesday, September 23, 2015 – WMS Annual Convention
Wednesday – Saturday, September 23 – 26, 2015 – Business, Training & Worship

(Opening Annual Service, Thursday, Sept 24, 2015 at 7 p.m.)
Parks Chapel AME Church, Host Church
1053 East Selma Street, Dothan, AL 36301

Telephone:  (334)794.4811

The Reverend Rodney Smith, Host Pastor
The Reverend David E. Reddick, Host Presiding Elder

6th Session of the Alabama River Region Annual Conference
Thursday, October 8, 2015 – WMS Annual Convention
Thursday – Saturday, October 8-10, 2015 – Business, Training & Worship
(Opening Annual Service – Thursday, October 8, 2015 at 7 p.m.)
St. John’s AME Church, Montgomery
807 Madison Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36104

The Reverend James E. Arnell, Host Pastor
The Reverend Albert L. Hyche, Host Presiding Elder

6th Session of the Northeast Alabama Annual Conference
Wednesday, October 14, 2015 – WMS Annual Convention
Wednesday – Saturday, October 14 - 17, 2015 – Business, Training & Worship

(Opening Annual Service –
Thursday, October 15, 2015 at 7 p.m.)
Bethel AME Church, Phenix City
Ft. Mitchell Hwy, Phenix City, AL 36867

The Reverend Jessie Grooms, Host Pastor
The Reverend Samuel Smith, Host Presiding Elder

6th Session of the Southwest Alabama Annual Conference
Wednesday, October 21, 2015 – WMS Annual Convention
Wednesday – Saturday, October 21 – 24, 2015; Business, Training & Worship
(Opening Annual Service – Thursday, October 22, 2015 at 7 p.m.)
Bethel AME Church, Mobile
714 Savannah Street, Mobile, AL 36603

The Reverend Bobby B. Cox, Jr, Host Pastor
The Reverend Johnnie M. Bryant, Host Presiding Elder

Pre-Plenary Meeting
Presiding Elders’ meeting with Bishop
Daniel Payne Community Plaza, Birmingham
Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Plenary Meeting
November 12 – 14, 2015


The Rt. Rev. Clement W. Fugh, Presiding Bishop
Mrs. Alexis Fugh, Episcopal supervisor

Sierra Leone Annual Conference
March 12-15, 2015

WMS Convention
Opening Conference – Annual Sermon
Conference Organization
Roll Call
Conference Committees
Presiding Elder Summaries
Election of Delegates
WMS Candlelight Service (No Holy Communion)

Board of Examiners
Pastors’ Reports
Noon Hour of Power
Pastor’s Reports
Committee Reports
Disciplinary Questions

Church School
Commissioning Service

Nigeria, Cote d’ Ivoire, Togo-Benin Annual Conferences
March 21-22, 2015 / March 28-29, 2015/ April 25-26, 2015

Opening Service
Roll Call
Conference Committees
Presiding Elder Summaries
Board of Examiners
Pastor’s Reports
Election of Delegates
WMS Convention
Close with Candlelight Service

Church School
Disciplinary Questions
Commissioning Service

Central Liberia / Liberia Annual Conferences
April 9-12, 2015 / April 16-19, 2015

WMS Convention
Close with Candlelight Service (No Communion)

Opening of Conference-   Annual Sermon
Roll Call
Presiding Elders Summaries
Election of Delegates
Board of Examiners
Pastors’ Reports

Pastor’s Reports (continued)
Committee Reports and Business
Disciplinary Questions

Church School
Commissioning Service

Ghana Annual Conference
May 1 - May 3, 2015

WMS Convention
Noon Opening of Conference – Annual Sermon

Roll Call
Presiding Elder Summaries
Election of Delegates
Close with WMS Candlelight (No Communion)

Board of Examiners
Pastor’s Reports
Committee Reports and Conference Business
Disciplinary Questions

Church School
Unfinished Business
Commissioning Service


On Saturday, February 14, 2015 from 12:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m., the Laity of the Southern California Conference, of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church will be celebrating an afternoon of Christian Fellowship and Entertainment with the theme:  Heritage and Tradition.

The fourth annual “Spring into Fashions” runway show and luncheon will occur at Second African Methodist Episcopal Church, Los Angeles, at 5500 South Hoover Street, Los Angeles, California.  The Rev. John E. Cager III is the pastor.

Dr. Dorothy Vails-Weber, the Southern California Conference, President encourages the community to join the AME church laity as we fellowship with AME clergy, and 2016 Episcopacy candidates.

For information concerning ticket prices, please contact Laura Terry, Director Public Relations; telephone: (626) 791-9618; email: lauraterry48@aol.com

Tickets can be obtained from Local AME Presidents of each Conference Church’s Lay Organization.

Dr.  Verda Bradley, Ms. Barbara McCombs, and Ms. Jeanna Kindle are the co-chairs for this year’s event.


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

Based on Biblical Text: Matthew 4:12-13: Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:

I wonder sometimes if folk really understand that preaching is challenging and hard work. Many would be surprised to know that preaching actually requires a good bit of open conversation with the Lord. The conversation with the Lord is followed by hours of mental labor spent pouring over scripture and through commentaries. Then there is the reading through the notes and the labor intensive writing and re-writing until satisfied. With the script in hand comes the practice going over and over the words until the message is comfortable in your spirit. Finally, there is prayer asking God to lead somebody to the church on Sunday to hear it.  The preacher prays that somebody will be pricked and changed by the message. In other words, sometimes contrary to popular belief, preaching is hard work.

However the truth of the matter is the person in the pew arguably has an even more difficult job than the preacher’s. While the preacher spends a good part of their time preparing God’s inspirational sermons that will motivate and stimulate, it is the people in the pew who have the daunting responsibility of positively responding to God’s message. After all, what good is a great sermon if no one follows its wisdom?

It is a fact that the main reason we come together every week is to worship God and to learn how to become better followers. The preacher can preach and preach until he or she can’t preach another word however, unless the people in the pew respond in a positive fashion and decide to allow God to improve their walk with Him, nothing in the kingdom of God will change. In other words, there is no progress for Christ without motivated Christians. The preacher motivates and prepares the masses for service however, it is the people in the pew that have to respond to God’s call and do the work. Otherwise, we would all just be sitting in our comfort zones, accomplishing nothing.

What do you think would have happened to the world if Jesus had not left the comfort zone of His hometown of Nazareth and picked up the mantle of service and sacrifice? What if He had decided to remain with His mother and earthly father in Nazareth, and lived out His earthly life as a carpenter’s son?  Undoubtedly, some will argue that God sent Jesus here for a specific purpose. Some will argue that His work was predestined and that He had no choice in the matter. I submit that argument would be partly right. True Jesus was sent here for a specific purpose. Jesus’ work was predestined. However Jesus had a choice! Jesus had the same choice that we all have, the choice to follow God or to turn away. Jesus was the Son of God, but He was clothed in flesh, in order to demonstrate to us that we, as flesh, can be robed in His power and become the obedient sons and daughters of God. Jesus had a choice and He chose to leave His beloved Nazareth behind.

Our text lets us know that Jesus is in Nazareth when He hears the news that His cousin John the Baptist has been imprisoned. This was the sign Jesus had been waiting for to launch His ministry in full force. It would have been inappropriate for Jesus to have moved forward sooner with His ministry, because He would have appeared to be competing with John. To move prematurely would have divided the faith community. Jesus waited for the opportune time. He waited for God’s appointed time to step into the role of Savior of the World, and launch the full force of His earthly ministry. John had been sent to prepare the way and now Jesus would show us the way.

The message for us is that if we are to continue the awesome work that Jesus started we, as flesh, can be robed in His power and become the obedient sons and daughters of God. We must however make the choice to leave our Nazareth behind.

Yes, our lives have been planned in exactly the same manner that Jesus’ life was planned. God preordained that we should belong to Him and that we should accept Christ and fulfill our special purpose as a member of God’s family. But to do that, we have to leave our Nazareth behind. We have to sacrifice the comfort of our Nazareth in order to fulfill our God-ordained destiny.

That is what makes the job of the person in the pew so difficult and challenging. There are some sacrifices they have to make, because whatever their Nazareth is, it is keeping them from fulfilling their destiny. Our destiny is to live our lives in such a way that we make it easy for others to believe in God.

True believers are those who walk in Christ and allow God to direct them. True believers are those who know God’s purpose for their lives and allow God to guide them. We are called to serve God from day one of our conversion.

Whatever our Nazareth is, God is calling us to leave it behind and to fulfill our pre-ordained destiny as His child. Jesus Christ must be portrayed as the Lord of our lives! If Jesus is Lord, then waves of change will happen. Things in the world will improve; family values will grow stronger; moral values will be restored. But the revival begins with us!

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


*Dr. Oveta Fuller

Act Against AIDS (AAA) is a major campaign of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to implement goals of the HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan developed during the first four years of the Obama administration.  AAA was launched in 2009 by CDC and the US Department of Health and Human Services.

As one effort to advance goals of AAA, a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), PS15-1505 “Enhancing HIV Prevention Communication and Mobilization Efforts through Strategic Partnerships” was released on December 30, 2014. It seeks social and civic organizations that are not conventional HIV/AIDS funded agencies to form new partnerships with CDC and others to 1) widely disseminate AAA materials, 2) increase understanding of their content, and 3) make measurable progress over five years through the AAA campaign to eliminate HIV/AIDS. 

Successful submissions will enter cooperative agreement awards for up to $150,000/year for five years of funding. These cooperative agreement awards will support new partnerships with existing organizations that are not HIV/AIDS organizations. Awardees will use their structure to 1) disseminate AAA materials across the USA, and 2) increase national engagement efforts to reduce HIV infection and stop AIDS disease impacts. 

The application is due before March 23, 2015. The review process for the 12-15 awards will be completed so that work can begin in September 2015. There is no requirement for matching funds.

In reading this FOA, I thought about the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC), its presence in communities and its access to people through a global network of churches. I asked if and how should we apply.

This FOA, PS15-1505, was issued on December 30, 2014. It is for non-HIV/AIDS organizations. This seems tailor-made to bring together and financially support activities of the AMEC as the oldest organized denomination in the United States of America that us founded by those of African descent to primarily serve black folks.

The FOA seems designed to bring together the many initiatives that already occur in the AME Church. These range from the third year of the Getting to Zero informative column in TCR, to a required course that is taught at the AMEC owned Payne Theological Seminary for Masters of Divinity students from all over the USA, to the longstanding programs and initiatives in some districts that address HIV/AIDS. It includes the unique ability that the AMEC has to take AAA materials and their content across the connection to the many conferences, meeting and forums hosted in each Episcopal District.   

I read the email sent about the FOA.  I accepted the invitation to be part of the information webinar hosted by CDC officials to explain details of the FOA.

I thought about how the AME Church already has the infrastructure, presence in communities of the USA and positioning to do this and do it well, if we set our minds to do so!

I thought about how a few years ago we successfully rolled out mandatory training on sexual harassment. It reached every district and Annual Conference to inform clergy and laypersons about sexual harassment.  I thought about how this FOA is tailor made to enable the AMEC to roll out how to stop HIV/AIDS.

The PS15-1505 FOA is for such a time as this. This FOA is posted at a time when almost half of the people in the USA who are impacted directly with HIV infection or AIDS are African American. At such a time, who else but us should respond?
Why the AMEC?  We have the overall broad organizational structure. We reach deep into the African American community. We have the initiatives in place. We have exemplary models like in New Jersey and other places that have been making a difference with HIV/AIDS for years.

The challenge for the AMEC is to come together in the time that is available to plan, write and submit a highly competitive clear proposal that will be one among the 12-15 awards.

I thought; why would we, the AMEC, do something as sensible and logical as that?

HIV/AIDS statistics show that in 2012 African Americans (AA) are ~46% of the HIV/AIDS cases in the USA and 12% of the USA population. Whites are 28% of the HIV/AIDS prevalence and 63% of the population, Hispanic Americans are 21% of the HIV/AIDS prevalence and 17% of the population. These stats from 2012 are one reason the AMEC church should engage.

CDC officials explained that a desired outcome in evaluating success of a funded organization is increase in AAA materials distributed. Another desired outcome is significant increase in the number of people in an area who get an HIV test. Another desired outcome is increase in connecting people who are HIV positive to medical care facilities so that, over time, there is a decrease in new AIDS cases and in HIV transmission.

Could we, the AMEC, do these? Can we achieve these outcomes?

Awardees will work closely with CDC officials. CDC will provide the AAA materials for distribution.  The awarded organization will use its structure, contacts and energy to make sure the free materials that are already made get to people who will use them to enhance knowledge, understanding and resolve. 

CDC with local and state health departments will provide agencies whose mandate is to conduct HIV testing and counseling. They do so at no charge to those who request it. It is their job, their purpose.

CDC will identify clinics and health departments to monitor changes in HIV infection diagnosis and AIDS cases. These agencies will keep up with changes in HIV and AIDS incidence and prevalence in the locations where an awarding organization actively works.

Thus, the AMEC or awarded organizations only have to widely distribute the materials, help increase understanding of their content and provide the opportunity for HIV testing. All of these could be a routine part of many events already planned and hosted by the AMEC and its various ministerial allies across denominations.  

Could we do that? Would we do that?

According to the webinar information, only one FOA will be issued with this title and target applicant. It will not be repeated next year. It is a one-time opportunity.

This is not the first time that such an opportunity has come up for the AMEC. We were not ready before so the opportunity to act as an umbrella organization was lost.

It is now 2015. We have new and different leadership- bishops, general officers, counsel persons and connectional officers. Are we ready now?  Could we do a competitive submission that will be funded?

This is the age of smart phones, conference call meetings, SKYPE, FaceTime, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so forth. Communication should be possible to get out the Act Against AIDS message and why we, especially, need to stop HIV.

Are we ready? Could we do it? Should we do it as an umbrella organization? March 23, 2015 is the drop dead due date. Electronic applications must be submitted by a qualifying entity that has a DUNS number.  The submissions should occur 5-7 days before the due date to allow time for any errors to be flagged and corrected.

It is time. But is it our time?

*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. 


Bill Dickens, Allen AME Church, Tacoma, Washington

The Adult AME Church School Lesson continues our month-long discussion about the importance of prayer in the life of a follower of Jesus. 

Today’s lesson focuses on how and why Christians should pray for each other.  The fifth chapter of James describes the importance of prayer by using practical theology.  Readers are admonished (verse 13) to pray if they are experiencing suffering or persecution.  If anyone is feeling happy they should reciprocate by singing songs of godly praise.  If anyone is sick James offers a specific plan of action to address the sickness.  First, a sick believer should contact the church elder.  Second, allow the church elder to pray for their sick member.  Finally, the elder should confirm the power of prayer by anointing the believer with spiritual healing oil (verses 14-15).  The prayer of faith will restore the believer’s health. 

The added bonus of prayer is seen in forgiveness of sin contingent upon the believer’s confession of transgressions.   Confession is not just good for the soul but works as a cathartic remedy. 

Effective prayer made by a righteous person is the ultimate cure for both sickness and sin (verse 17).  Finally, James uses the example of Elijah to reinforce his practical theology.  Elijah is considered by many (particularly the writer of this Church School brief) as the greatest prophet of the Old Testament.  Despite Elijah’s impeccable pedigree he was a modest and humble man who eschewed condescending talk with his fellow Israelites and prayed for the cessation of rain for three and a half years.   After seeing the goal fulfilled, Elijah petitioned to God thru prayer to end the drought and restore rain and agricultural plenty.

Some church expressions are clichés.  The oft-quoted testimony that "prayer changes things" can fall in that category.  However, the experiences of the saints confirm that Jesus is “a doctor in the sick room.”  Our Lord is indeed a “bridge over troubled waters.”  We pray for one another because we see the evidence of prayer for ourselves.  This column is special for your writer because I am writing this note 5 hours removed from oral surgery where my mouth was cut open, a cyst was removed and my mouth surgically restored with stitches from one end to the other end.  I struggled with the decision to submit my weekly column because of the discomfort and pain of the 1.5 hour surgery and post-surgery ailments.  My faith was restored when I remembered the pain and suffering endured by many believers who courageously identify themselves as Christians in hostile environments.  I recall the physical pain my ancestors accepted to fight against white imperial powers in the Deep South who systematically denied them their Constitutional right to not only vote but to defer their rightful pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  If these Christians can work thru pain (which dwarfs my oral pain) I would be derelict in my duty as a Christian educator not to write about the power of prayer.  Praise the Lord for Advil and to God be the Glory!

*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’m writing this Meditation after listening to President Barack Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address.  The President, who’s an excellent orator, set forth his agenda for America in a way that was spirited, challenging, celebratory, determined and inspiring.  Given the results of the November 2015 election, that’s nothing short of remarkable.

The result of that election was a Republican majority in the United States Senate and House of Representatives and in many State Governorships and Legislatures.  It would have been understandable if President Obama had given a meek and conciliatory State of the Union message, but he didn’t go there.  He reached beyond the reality of the Congress that he now has to contend with as a Democratic President, stood his ground and boldly embraced an agenda for progress.  He looked beyond “what is” and embraced “what can be.”

I lift up our President’s address as a source of inspiration and encouragement for all of us as we face a challenging world where things don’t always go our way.  We’ll all face circumstances and situations that are daunting, frustrating and seemingly hopeless sooner or later, and the natural temptation is to simply give in, compromise and cope with the challenges as best as we can and hope for the best.

We’d do well, however, to remember that we serve and follow an uncompromising Christ who looked beyond rejection and ridicule, stayed the course, and chose to die a humiliating death on the Cross to fulfill his mission and secure our salvation.

We’ll all face challenges, disappointments and reversals in life, but that’s not what matters.  What matters is that if we trust in and serve the God who sent His Son into this world to save us from our sins, we can find new hope, new direction, new strength for life’s journey and new confidence to stay the course and do God’s will.

Stay the course and serve the Lord, in spite of the challenges you face in life.  You’ll find new peace of mind, new strength and new confidence in the hymn that says, “Sure I must fight if I would reign, increase my courage, Lord; I’ll bear the scorn, endure the pain, supported by Thy Word.”

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


It is with heartfelt sympathy that we announce the passing of the Reverend James D. Holmes, a retired presiding elder of the Eighth Episcopal District.  The Reverend Holmes was married to Mrs. Hermine Holmes, President of the North Mississippi Conference Clergy Families Organization.  Mrs. Holmes has been very devoted and attentive to her husband throughout his extended illness.  Please pray much for Mrs. Holmes and her family.                

Visitation: Friday, January 23, 2015
5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Avery Chapel AME Church
483 Church Road
Southaven, Mississippi

Funeral Service: Saturday, January 24, 2015
12:00 O'clock Noon                    
Brown Missionary Baptist Church
980 Stateline, East
Southaven, Mississippi
Telephone: (662) 342-6407  

Bishop Julius H. McAllister, Sr., Eulogist
The Reverend Frederick Crayton, Pastor  

Professional Services Entrusted to:

Gillespie Funeral Home
9179 Pigeon Roost Road
Olive Branch, Mississippi 38654

Telephone: 662 895-2470
Fax:  (662) 893-6316
Condolences and other Expressions of Sympathy may be sent to:

Mrs. Hermine Holmes
7374 Hedgerow Cove
Southaven, Mississippi 38671 

Telephone Numbers:
Residence:  662 349-4262
Cell: 901 486-7454


We regret to inform you of the passing of CHRISTOPHER J. TERRY, the brother of the Reverend Carl R. Terry III, pastor of Henderson Chapel, Wellsburg, West Virginia.

Home Going Celebration will be held Saturday, January 24, 2015

Viewing:  10:00 AM to 12:00 NOON
Home Going Service:  12:00 NOON

Bethel AME Church
2720 Webster Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Pastor: The Reverend Dr. Steven A. Jackson

Arrangements Entrusted to:

Spriggs & Watson Funeral Home
720 N. Lang Street
Homewood, PA 15208
FAX:  412-243-2614
EMAIL: service@spriggsandwatson.com

Expressions of Sympathy can be sent to:

The Rev. Carl R. Terry III
C/o Bethel AME Church
2720 Webster Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15219


We regret to inform you of the passing of the Rev. Floyd Green Sr., retired AME Pastor in the 10th Episcopal District.
The Reverend Floyd Green Sr. age 96 completed his journey in life on January 18, 2015 to go home to be with his Heavenly Father.  The Rev. Floyd Green Sr. was born on February 28, 1918 to Herman and Willie L. Green in Bastrop, Texas.
He worked for the Railroad, the Highway Department, and as a janitor at Lakeview School and later had his own Landscaping Business.  He accepted his "call to the ministry" in 1950.  He was an Itinerant Elder in the AME Church where he served as pastor in Snyder, Stamford, Hamlin, Roby, Sweetwater, Slaton and Brownwood, Texas. The Rev. Floyd Green loved the Lord and served him faithfully.  He was a prayer-warrior, and loved to sing.  He was a Mason, a member of the Webb-Spring Lions Club, the NAACP and also a member of the Wayside Harmonizers Quartet Singers.  His favorite past-time was fishing.
He leaves to cherish his memory four sons, the Rev. Floyd Green Jr. (Sandra); the Rev. James Greene (Debra); the Rev. Richard Green (Pricilla) and Lonnie Green; four daughters, Mary Watson, Rosie Green, Claudette Forward (Cleve), and  Evelyn Wilkins; 19 Grandchildren, 24 Great-Grandchildren, 1 Great- Great-Grandchild, and a host of other relatives and friends.
His son, the Rev. James Green, (the Reverend Debra Green), is pastor of Greater St. Luke AME Church in Midland Texas.

Service arrangements for the Reverend Floyd Green Sr:
Services provided by:

Nalley-Pickle & Welch
906 Gregg Street
Big Spring, Texas 79720
Telephone (432) 267-6331
Online Guest Book:

Visitation: Thursday, January 22, 2015
Time: 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Funeral Services:
Friday, January 23, 2015
Time: 10:00 a.m.

Nalley-Pickle & Welch Chapel
906 Gregg Street
Big Spring, Texas 79720

Telephone: (432) 267-6331

Expressions of Sympathy may be mailed to:
The Rev. James Green
2201 E. California Avenue
Midland, Texas 79701


It is with heartfelt sympathy that we announce the passing of Mrs. Lois Watts, mother of the Rev. Velma Watts, pastor of Mt. Moriah AME Church, Jesup, Georgia. Mrs. Lois Watts was a resident of Virginia.

Funeral Service:

Saturday, January 24, 2015--3:00 p.m.
In the Chapel of Cooper & Humbles Funeral Company, Inc.
24497 Mary N Smith Road
Accomac, Virginia 23301

FAX: 757-787-5606
Telephone: 757-787-2504

The Reverend Velma Watts, Officiating

Guest Book for online condolences:

Condolences and other expressions of sympathy may be sent to:

The Rev. Velma Watts
P.O. Box 13762
Savannah, Georgia 31416


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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