The Reverend Dr. Johnny Barbour, Jr., Publisher
The Reverend Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III, Editor
The Editor will be on vacation from September 1 – 8.
1. EDITORIAL: THE DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE PRESIDING ELDER, CEREMONIAL OR AUTHENTIC:
Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III
One of the first things that I was told when I arrived at my first pastoral appointment at Shorter Chapel AME Church in Paris, Kentucky in July 1966 was that the Reverend Willie K. Marshall, Presiding Elder of the Lexington District of the Kentucky Annual Conference, would hold his “Quarter” and preach every three months. The people actually looked forward to the presiding elder’s visit; and I did too. It was a time to spruce up the sanctuary and the grounds of the church. A parking space was reserved for the elder and he was treated royally; like a bishop. The presiding elder was “bishopric” in his conduct of the “quarter.” Nobody complained about the presiding elder’s visit; as a matter of fact, the members looked forward to his visits. I recall that each time we did the quarterly reports; it seemed as if we were doing them for the first time. We were always scurrying around trying to get those reports done.
Sometime later, I heard a presiding elder, the Reverend W. L. Gaddy, Presiding Elder of the Danville-Frankfort District in a gathering at some church meeting in front of the church; tell a group of pastors that he was not required to preach each time that he held a quarterly conference. His bottom-line seemed to have been that he could go to a local church and hold the quarterly conference and his presiding elder duties would have been fulfilled.
About that same time, I heard some pastors say that they were almost always inconvenienced when the presiding elders came to hold quarters and had to be extended the courtesy to preach. A couple of the pastors voiced their opinion that the presiding elder didn’t even need to hold the “quarter” in person and that they, the pastors, would prefer to just mail the Quarterly reports to the presiding elders.
Some presiding elders have gotten creative and because of work schedules, distances and time constraints have begun to hold cluster or area quarterly conferences.
I ask the question, what the duties of a presiding elder are and what is the purpose for the quarterly conference. Some presiding elders have said that preaching is not a part of their responsibilities and that they do not have to preach each time they hold a “quarter” and pastors who say that they would prefer to mail in the quarterly reports, which would save everybody some time; and presiding elders who have designed area quarterly conference, which means that there may be some churches on the presiding elder district that might not receive a visit from the presiding elder. I have also heard pastors who lamented that presiding elders should not meddle in the affairs of the local church
So, the question is, what the duties of a presiding elder are. Is she, or he, just an accountant, to provide figures and compile statistics to be turned in at the annual conference? Should they be, “just collectors of the funds?” Are presiding elders a part of the chain of supervision and as such, middle managers? Do presiding elders have the responsibility to supervise and provide guidance to pastors? Or is the position of presiding elder simply an honorary position? If they are a part of the chain of supervision, should they have significant input into the pastoral appointment process? If they are acknowledged to have significant input into the pastoral appointment process, how do they obtain the information needed to advise the bishop about a pastor’s gifts and graces and whether the pastor should remain or be transferred from a pastoral charge? Certainly input to the bishop shouldn’t be based upon personal friendship, lack of friendship, or casual observation.
The Doctrine And Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Church provides information about the duties and responsibilities of presiding elders (Page 116, Section IX).
The Discipline of the AME Church states, in part, that a responsibility of the presiding elder is to, “…hold Quarterly Conferences in every church or circuit every three months to assess efficiency of the pastor, effectiveness of ministry, and to give proper direction to all of the affairs of the churches in the presiding elder’s district.”
That statement seems to me, to be saying that the presiding elder is in the chain of supervision and is responsible to assess the efficiency of pastors. If the presiding elder does not visit the local church or if he or she does not interact with the local church, how can the presiding elder measure the efficiency of the pastor and the effectiveness of ministry? Can the presiding elder measure efficiency of the pastor, the effectiveness of ministry and give proper direction without interacting with the local church? I don’t think so!
The Discipline goes on to state that “In the absence of the bishop, the presiding elder… has charge of all traveling and local preachers in the district and has the power to change, receive or appoint during the intervals between annual conference.” It goes on to explain that “On a petition from the members through the Official Board, and where the interest of the church demands it, a presiding elder may change or move a pastor in the intervals of the Annual Conference after strict investigation and written consent of the presiding bishop.”
I wonder if presiding elders who fail to visit every church on his or her district are abdicating their responsibilities. If a presiding elder chooses not to preach, the presiding elder should still visit all of the local churches on his or her district. What is the fear for the pastor who does not want the presiding elder to visit his or her local church? That may be a definite indication that a presiding elder’s visit is needed.
The presiding elder is an important part of the ministry of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. An effective presiding elder can be an important resource for pastors and laity in the local church in providing guidance and direction. Every profession has supervisory controls and I am astonished when I hear of pastors who want to disregard being supervised or providing supervision to their local congregation.
Presiding elders who fulfill their professional obligations are also expected to preside over district conferences, function in the absence of the bishop; promote evangelism, and ensure that all charters, deeds, and other church property conforms to The Discipline. The presiding elder, in addition to being a spiritual leader for the traveling and local preachers, is also an administrator.
The Discipline also says that the presiding elder shall receive all monies collected during the quarterly conference, which means if an offering is taken at the quarterly conference the money collected belongs to the presiding elder. And, with the minimum salary provided in Discipline of $28,000 per annum, $12,000 for housing, pension or retirement and Self-Employment Tax, Insurance (Health, Disability, and Malpractice), the presiding elder needs to take up several offerings during the course of a quarterly conference.
The role of the presiding elder is important to the growth of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The leadership of the church, pastors and laity need to reaffirm and re-empower the position of presiding elders.
2. THE SURVIVOR STORIES WILL BE SHOWN IN CALIFORNIA AGAIN THIS WEEKEND:
"Survivor stories" will air this weekend five times on PBS station KOCE-TV. If you live in the Los Angeles/Orange County area you will be able to see it.
3. A NEW COLUMN BY STEPHEN GREEN:
The Christian Recorder is resuming it answer and question column. The questions will revolve around the AME Church, the Bible and The Discipline. Stephen Green, who is 14 years old, will be the columnist for this column. Different prizes will be awarded. The prize for today’s question is a free one-year subscription for The Christian Recorder (Alternate prize is a one-year subscription for any AME periodical). Your answer has to be received within 24 hours of the posting of the question.
4. AME QUESTION - WIN A ONE-YEAR SUBSCRIPTION TO THE CHRISTIAN RECORDER:
Where was Bishop T. Larry Kirkland born and how many children did his parents have?
Editor’s note: Please do not call Bishop Kirkland to obtain the answer.
5. ANOTHER NEW COLUMN:
The Christian Recorder will feature some of the readers’ responses to editorial issues featured in The Christian Recorder Online. The new column is entitled, “Reader Response to Editorial Issues.”
6. READER RESPONSE TO EDITORIAL ISSUES:
- To the Editor: I wish that the response to D. L. Steverson of the 8th Episcopal District had not vilified local congregations for rubber-stamping candidates for ministry as well as persons who serve on boards without giving some treatment to the roles of clergy both as pastors and as administers, i.e., presiding elders. In reality, pastors have the responsibility for presenting persons to the congregations for ministry. It is very difficult for members not to rubber-stamp those persons presented to them by the pastor and not be respectful to that pastor as the chief spiritual leader of said congregation. Perhaps we could also concede that the boards of examiners have the opportunity to deny persons access to the ordained ministry. To be honest, the AME Church has been flooded with candidates for ministry in the last twenty years. In some of our conferences they have become a sitting majority, no opportunity to pastor or advance, yet they have the privilege to vote in their annual conferences (ponder that). I am only saying that all of us bear responsibility for the condition of our ministry and our local churches. Secondly, for me at least, the greatest issue facing our church today is a clear path for persons to address their grievances. Biblical principles are a must in dealing with our problems. However the discipline is often misused in the process of allowing persons to be heard even when they follow the rules. Too often, problems in local churches are kept from the presiding bishop by well- meaning middle management who holds the quarterly conferences. Your statement "The protocol is in place to take care of any local church dysfunction" may be described as somewhat naive. I can assure you that often when the system is engaged properly by pastors or members, they are never really heard and the system is misused in order to achieve persons vested goals or in an effort not to rock the boat. I do not write this as a theory, I have lived the fact. I too abhor the use of profanity, as I have looked at some published articles on the websites; the use of profanity is wrong. Perhaps this misuse of language is a symptom of a deep anguish at not being heard or being disregarded as a trouble-maker for asking honest questions, and being disrespected as a person, etc. This whole issue will have to be addressed at some time and I hope that it is soon.
The Reverend Rodger Hall Reed, Sr., pastor of Campbell AMEC, Washington, DC, 2nd Episcopal District
- To the Editor:
RE: "Serving Well"
Kudos to Bishop Vashti McKenzie for producing a documentary Survivor Stories on the positive role that the Church has / is playing throughout the devastation of Katrina, which aired this past Sunday on TVOne.
7. THE RENOWNED DR. DOLLY D. ADAMS AND BISHOP JOHN H. ADAMS CELEBRATED 50TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY:
* The Reverend Edrena Houston Brown
The evening of Saturday, August 25, 2006 was the highlight of memorable gala celebration for Dr. Dolly D. Adams and Bishop John H.
Adams, were the Epitome of Sartorial Splendor, as their daughters; Attorney Gaye Adams Massey, Dr. Jann Adams and Ms. Madelyn Adams surprised their parents, Dr. Dolly D. Adams and Bishop John H. Adams with an evening of elegance, in sharing with family and friends a dinner and dance 50th wedding anniversary celebration.
The anniversary was held at The Grand Hyatt Hotel, Atlanta, Georgia. Bishops, Episcopal Supervisors, General officers, Connectional Officers, college presidents, presiding elders, pastors, ministers, and clergy of each Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church were in attendance. Also, National and community leaders, family and friends joined the Adams on this noteworthy occasion. The theme for the evening “A Lifetime of Love” was captured majestically by all in attendance. The program participants were: Attorney Gaye Adams Massey, Attorney Patricia Russell McCloud, Mrs. Ollie Bryant, former Ambassador Andrew J. Young, Jr., Bishop McKinley Young, Mrs. Delores Kennedy Williams, the Rev. Terrence Gray, the Adams’ grandchildren, Dr. Jann Adams, Ms. Madelyn Adams and Bishop John H. and Dr. Dolly Adams.
The atmosphere was most romantic, as Dr. Dolly and Bishop John H. Adams, expressed their 50-years of love while their guest observed a video presentation of the Adams, consisting of family and friends in expressing well-wishes to the couple for 50 years of love, dedication and commitment.
Bishop and Dr. Adams extended greetings in their remarks and were over joyous in sharing the wonderful and lovely occasion with family and friends. Afterwards, family and friends acknowledged the couple with a toast, and then the Adams, engaged in the cutting of their anniversary cake.
Bishop John Adams and Dr. Dolly Adams, ended the evening with their first dance as the jazz entity band played the tunes of the late Sam Cook, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Etta James and many other renowned artist, as their guest joined them on the last dance on an evening of elegance, to be remembered for years to come.
*The Rev. Edrena Houston Brown is a Christian Recorder staff writer
8. THE GLOBAL CORNER - REPORT OF AMEC, INDIA FOR THE MONTH OF AUGUST:
We are so pleased and excited to be officially representing AMEC in India. We thank God for giving us this opportunity to serve God in this manner. The official delegation of AMEC in the month of July under the leadership of Bishop John Bryant and the Rev. “Cee” Bryant has really inspired us and encouraged us to work for the establishment and growth of AMEC in India. Officially this was our first month and we were little confused so as to where to begin our work – given the enormity of the nature of work here.
We had been sharing with various people including leaders of established churches and taking their suggestions about establishing the AMEC in India. Initially this had taken a lot of our time. But the timely intervention of Bishop John and Rev. “Cee” helped us to find the focus of our work. We have found a qualified person to translate the “Know Your Church Manual” into Tamil language and the translation work is in progress.
We have located a new place in Chennai, just opposite to the International Airport, where there is a great need for the ministry of God’s word. This is a place is inhabited by migrant labourers who are stone-breakers in the stone quarries. Almost all of them are below poverty line. Many of the women engage in prostitution to supplement the financial needs of the family. A lot the people living here, along with the children, are HIV positive and they are discriminated against by others. There is a great need to share God’s word and God’s love among these people. We are looking forward for a greater ministry in Chennai in the coming months.
The ministry at Bangalore had been very exciting and fulfilling. We visited Bangalore and spent time in teaching, preaching and visiting the prayer-cells to encourage the believers. We are pleased to inform you that we participated in the worship service of the Nepali congregation who has expressed their desire to join with the AMEC.
This congregation is mostly comprised of people from the Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and North Bengal, who have migrated to Bangalore either for education or in search of employment. All of them speak the Nepalese language. Most of them are from Hindu backgrounds. There are about 90-150 members in this congregation, who have been brought together by Pastor Khrist Pal Rai and his hard labour. It was wonderful to join such beautiful people of God and worship along with them. Abraham delivered the message on “What It Means to Be a Christian,” which was well-received by the congregation. He also shared about the beginnings of African Methodist Episcopal Church as an introduction. We intend to do this on a regular basis to strengthen our relationship with them. Since this community does not know about the Creed we took time to teach them about the importance of knowing the Creed. We are trying to get the Nepali version of the Creed so that the worshipping community would be able to learn and say the creed in their worship services.
We request you to kindly pray for Pastor Khrist Pal Rai, his wife Mrs. Sheena and their three children namely, Jack Rai, Justin Rai, Gracetin Rai and their ministry to Nepali speaking people in Bangalore.
We also attended the Prince of Peace Fellowship, which has already come under the AMEC. Ms. Sarah delivered the sermon on, “The Mission of Jesus and the Call of Discipleship,” in the worship service in Tamil language. The congregation was very touched and encouraged by the message. In our last report we had mentioned that nine men and women had the privilege of being baptised by Bishop John Bryant in the month of July. They are all growing in their faith and prayer life. We had the privilege of meeting them and encouraging them to pursue in their faith. We also visited the prayer-cells at Bangalore where Sarah preached in Tamil and Abraham prayed for the sick and heavy-laden people.
We seek your prayers for Pastor Vijaymani who leads the Prince of Peace Fellowship, his wife Mrs. Greeni Joshua and their children namely, Vivian Joshua and Blessanna Joshua and their ministry.
Let us praise God for Rita, aged 65, who was baptised by Bishop John. She is from Catholic background. She is suffering from chronic Diabetes, her right foot has been severely affected and doctors had recommended amputating the right feet from ankle onwards. On the day of operation Pastor Vijaymani touched her and prayed for her, and God did the miracle. The same doctors who recommended operation later felt it was not necessary. This time when we visited her, Abraham also prayed for her and she strongly believes that God has healed her.
We request your praise and prayer for Master Anand, a four year old boy who accidentally fell into a mixture of lime and acid. Both his legs up to his waist got burnt. Doctors performed a skin grafting by taking skin from the boy’s uncle, but it did not match and rather it got infected. The whole church got together offered special prayers. Praise God for answering their prayers, there are signs of growth of natural skin. The doctors had ruled out its possibility, but our God does the impossible – Halleluiah!
We request your prayer for Mrs. Ambica, aged 72. She is undergoing Dialysis due to kidney failure and now doctors have recommended Angiogram as she suffered a heart-attack. Please pray for her healing.
Let us praise God for Mr. Raja, aged 35 yrs. He is married and has three children. He worked in a well-renowned tire factory, which closed down six years back. He underwent many struggles in these six years, but he prayed and firmly believed that God would open the factory and give him back the same job. He had become a laughing-stock. God honoured his faith, the factory reopened on 27th August 2006 and he has got back his old assignment along with the remunerations. He shared his testimony in the worship service.
We request your prayer for a new convert Ms. Kalyani, aged 25 years from Hindu background. We also request prayers for Mr. Munniswamy, aged 63 years, a Hindu who voluntarily came to church because he is gripped with some unknown fear, has no peace and is losing his health, he feels that he has come under the attack of evil spirits. We prayed for him but more is to be done.
The prayer-cell at Rose Garden is under the leadership of Mrs. Rebecca, where Bishop John Bryant visited. She is very active and she has brought in two new women, a Hindu and a Catholic, to her cell. We need to pray for these women to know God and accept Jesus in their lives as their personal Saviour. Ms. Sarah encouraged and challenged the women flock to spend their time in prayer every day at least 10 to 15 minutes, so that they can do great things for the Lord in their area and they are happily willing to do it.
Let us continue to pray for the ministry in Chennai and Bangalore. God will surely do great wonders and miracles and we thank God for it.
Thank you all for your prayers and we here assure you of our prayers for you. We will be back with our prayer letter and exciting testimonies of how God is working here, next month. Till then God bless you and keep you.
In God’s vineyard from India,
Minnie Sarah and Abraham Peddiny
9. FIRST EPISCOPAL DISTRICT, PRESIDENT OF THE PRESIDING ELDER COUNCIL, REV. DR. HERBERT L. EDDY TO DELIVER “LABOR DAY” MESSAGE IN SOUTH FLORIDA:
*Rev. Edrena Houston Brown
The Reverend Dr. Herbert L. Eddy A Man of God - treasurer of the Connectional Presiding Elder’s Council of the A.M.E. Church, president of the First Episcopal District Presiding Elders’ Council, accountant for the First Episcopal District, past president of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, presiding elder of the Boston-Hartford District in the New England Conference of the First Episcopal District, where the illustrious Bishop Richard F. Norris, serves as the presiding prelate.
Dr. Eddy will be the” Labor Day Guest Preacher of the Hour” on Sunday, September 3, 2006 at 11:00 a.m. worship service at Bethel A.M.E. Church in Vero Beach, Florida. The Reverend Dr. Kyle “K. C.” Gibson is the pastor; the Rev. Dr. Raymond G. Heastie, presiding elder and the Right Rev. McKinley Young, Presiding Bishop of the Eleventh Episcopal District. Bethel is presently underway in implementing plans for another successful year and participating in the many the challenges of the community in promoting concerns of Human Relations in building bridges of unity.
The Bethel A.M.E. Church congregation is anxiously awaiting the arrival of Dr. Eddy. Rev. Eddy is an outstanding Community leader and human relations activist. He is well-respected and known for his spirituality in bringing about world peace and his charismatic style of leadership as an administrator. He serves on numerous boards and is involved in many organizations in New England, and the connectional church.
Rev. Dr. Eddy was appointed presiding elder in May 1983 by Bishop Richard A. Hildebrand. He served as a presiding elder under the leadership of Bishop Frank C. Cummings, Bishop Phillip R. Cousin, Bishop Donald G. K. Ming, Bishop Z. L. Grady and the present presiding prelate, Bishop Richard F. Norris.
Presiding Elder Eddy was reared in New York where he is a graduate from the public schools in NYC. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Queens’ College, while majoring in Mathematics. He is a graduate of Shelton College where he earned the associates degree and received the ETTA degree and graduated from Helderman Theological Studies. He has traveled abroad and in the United States promoting world Peace and was bestowed an honorary degree, Doctor of Laws, from Monrovia College, Monrovia, West Africa. A humanitarian, husband, father and servant of the Lord, Presiding Elder Eddy’s philosophy is, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all other things shall be added unto thee.’
Presiding Elder Eddy is married to the Rev. Amelia Eddy and they are the proud parents of four children.
The community is cordially invited to attend this community worship service.
*The Rev. Edrena Houston Brown is a staff writer for The Christian Recorder
10. IS YOUR CHURCH BULLETIN GUEST-FRIENDLY:
Is your church bulletin guest-friendly? Sometimes the first impression people have of your church may come from the bulletin. Think about the number of people that see your church's bulletin but have never visited your church. Does your bulletin welcome and invite others to the ministry? So much of what gets communicated on Sunday morning comes from the bulletin. Is your bulletin written for Sunday morning worship guests?
Creating a guest-friendly bulletin is a must for a welcoming church. People who have been members forever may know the songs, the order of worship and every response expected by congregants. But what do first time visitors and especially the non- churched know about your service?
"Excuse me what does that mean?" Have you ever visited a church outside your denomination and wanted to ask that question? If you feel very comfortable visiting all main line denominations, try visiting one of the newer ministries that focus on "hip hop". You may quickly find yourself trying desperately to keep up with what is going on. Communicating to first time visitors is a skill that must be nurtured. Too often we just assume people understand. To get your communicators to begin to think "guest-friendly" may require a few conversations about thinking outward versus inward.
Guest friendly communication requires an outward mindset. Whether it is the church Website, the welcome brochure or the lawn sign, thinking from a guest's point of view means keeping in mind those who are yet to come. When you coach the communications team, encourage them to put on the shoes of some one who does not attend church regularly. If you communicate with that person in mind you are bound to keep information simple, easy and code-free. People who have been away from church can some times have the most difficult time re-entering if they leave feeling confused or lost.
Invite your communications team to communicate with the non-churched in mind. What we say may determine whether someone feels included or excluded from the total experience. As we share our faith and bring others to experience the Gospel it makes sense that we keep communication simple, easy and welcoming.
*Lynette Hawkins is an author, national speaker and coach on marketing related topics. To contact her, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or dial (888) 834- 7525.
11. CLERGY FAMILY BEREAVEMENT NOTICE:
We regret to inform you of the passing of Sister Jeanne Williams Booker, the mother of Rev. James Booker, Jr., Pastor of St. John A.M.E. Church (New York Conference, Manhattan District). The following information has been provided regarding funeral arrangements.
Funeral Service - Thursday, August 31, 2006
Viewing – 4:00 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.
Service – 7:00 p.m.
St. Luke A.M.E. Church
1872 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10031
Rev. Melvin E. Wilson, Pastor
Condolences may be sent to:
The Rev. James E. Booker, Jr.
10 West 135th Street
New York, NY 10037
Please remember the Booker and Williams families in your prayers.
12. CLERGY FAMILY BEREAVEMENT ANNOUNCEMENTS PROVIDED BY:
The Clergy Family Information Center
Bishop Carolyn Tyler Guidry, ChairCommission on Social Action Mrs. Ora L. Easley, Administrator
Email: Amespouses1@aol.comPhone: (615) 837-9736Voice Mail: (615) 833-6936Fax: (615) 833-3781Cell: (615) 403-7751
13. CONDOLENCES TO THE BEREAVED FROM THE CHRISTIAN RECORDER:
The Chair of the Commission on Publications, the Right Reverend Gregory G. M. Ingram; 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