Larry Kirkland - Chair, Commission on Publications
Reverend Dr. Johnny Barbour, Jr., Publisher
Reverend Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III, the 20th Editor, The Christian Recorder
and Save Date in your Calendars:
August National Immunization Awareness Month
EDITORIAL- INTERESTING QUESTIONS THAT NEEDED TO BE ANSWERED:
Editor of The Christian Recorder
One of the
interesting things about being the Editor of The Christian Recorder is the opportunity to interact with
parishioners from across the AME Church, both here in the U.S. and abroad. I
have learned so many things and have gotten to the point that I can say, as I
said after I had been in the military for a number of years, “Nothing surprises
me. I have heard it all.” Oh, I still
have some “‘Wow!’ moments” and all I can do is shake my head and think, “Wow!”
Some of the
comments and queries send me scrambling to the Bible and to The Discipline, and even to colleagues; and those queries help me to learn and
grow, and to share.
I learn about some
of the great things happening in the AME Church and at other times I hear about
things that make me shake my head, and say, “Wow!”
Some of the
parishioners who correspond with me ask questions, others share anecdotes and
others give their opinions. The “thread” that ties almost all of them together
is their love for the African Methodist Episcopal Church and their knowledge of
the Bible and their knowledge about the AME Church. It brings to mind a saying
in the fifties, “If you are an AME, we know you can read.”
Some of the people
who write or call request anonymity and at other times they don’t mind if their
names are shared.
Last week Exhorter
Doris Coffey who lives in Lexington, Kentucky asked me to respond to several
questions and said that she didn’t mind if I shared her name. I appreciated her
questions and wanted to share my responses to Exhorter Coffey, an active Bible
"Why do we
baptize babies?" I cannot find
anywhere in the Bible that speaks specifically to baptizing babies. I am also
under the belief that you do not have to be baptized in order to be saved,
based on Jesus’ response to one of the thieves crucified with him. I believe
people who accept Christ on their death-beds can be saved even if they have not
been baptised. I understand that Jesus has commanded us to be baptized and that
water baptism is a sign of obedience and a symbol /covenant for believers. I appreciate any information you can share
with me as to why we baptize babies.
Since the Bible
says, “One Lord, One Faith and One Baptism,” what if the “baby" decides to
be baptized again when he or she is old enough to understand what baptism is
We do not
re-baptize in the AME Church. It is the
responsibility of pastors to teach parishioners about baptism. The “quick and dirty” answer is that those of
us who believe in infant baptism believe that baptism has replaced Old
Testament circumcision and is the religious ceremony of initiation into the
Christian community. Infant baptism is also referred to as pedobaptism.
Methodists believe infant baptism has spiritual value for the infant. John
Wesley believed baptism was a means of grace, and water baptism was symbolic.
Methodists view baptism in water as symbolic and believe that water baptism
does not regenerate the baptised nor cleanse them from sin. In Methodism,
baptism is the doorway to sanctification and it is the water and the Spirit. We
embrace water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
We baptize babies
because baptism is a type of circumcision. Baby boys are circumcised, Jews do
not, nor did they wait until the boys came of age to determine for themselves
if they wanted to be Jews (circumcised).
We do not delay
baptism; we make our children “Christians from birth.” They can decide later if
they don’t want to be Christians.
When people were
converted in the Apostolic church (throughout the book of Acts (and the
epistles), the person and his or her whole household were baptised (Acts 16:15,
Acts 16:31-33, and I Corinthians 1:16) as well as "the promise to you and
your children" (Acts 2:39) as including small children and infants.
One does not have
to be baptised to be saved. In
Methodism, one does not have to be baptised to take Communion and that’s why in
Methodism our Communion is called the “Open Table.” The “Open Table” is
There is nothing in
the Bible about the necessity for a person to remember his or her baptism; and
nothing in Judaism that emphasized the notion that Jewish boys needed to
remember their circumcision.
Is Leadership in
the local AME Churches a dying art?
Response: Your question is probably being asked by other denominations. The AME Church is not the only denomination
experiencing leadership issues. I suspect that seminaries are not providing
enough classes / seminars /workshops in leadership studies.
universities expanded their leadership studies programs in the 1990s.
Leadership should not be a dying art in the AME Church, but having said that,
we probably have a number of pastors who have not been sufficiently trained in
leadership and decisionmaking; or in conflict resolution. And, more sadly,
local church leaders are not being trained in leadership. Leadership is an art
and there is much to learn about leadership and decisionmaking.
What are the
qualifications for leadership in the church in this day and time?
Response: No specific qualification except that the AME Church thought requiring
ordinands to have M.Div degrees from ATS (Association of Theological Schools)
accredited seminaries would provide adequate theological, academic and
Boards of Examiner
programs were “beefed up” and some Boards of Examiners attempted to prepare future
pastors with the skills and knowledge to be effective leaders. We also have a leadership shortfall on the
laity side because local church officers are not provided relevant systematic
Some episcopal lay
organizations are attempting to address the issues and they are to be commended
for doing so.
What has happened
to the spirit and passion of the laity in the church?
Response: Some of the laity may have given up, but truthfully it seems that I see
a lot more excitement on the part of the laity than I do many of the clergy. I
hear and read about great programs the laity are doing. I hear the laity talk more excitedly about
how and what they would like the AME Church to look like. They are concerned
about changes they see clergy implementing that do not help our Zion. The laity
has a “fire” that I wish was more visible among the clergy. I would love to get
the sense that the clergy is as “fired up” as the some of the laity appear to
Is it necessary for
the leaders of the church to be visible and active in the local church
programs, for example, attendance at Bible Study, Church School, church
meetings, presiding elder district meetings, etc?
Response: It is extremely important for local church leaders to be involved in
the life of the church. Far too many local church leaders are parochially
“wedded” to their local church programs, but have no understanding or loyalty
to the connectional church.
Unfortunately, some local church officers limit their involvement and
participation to Sunday worship services and little else. The AME Church needs
well-rounded church leaders; both clergy and laity.
Why has our Worship
Services (barring the move of the Holy Spirit) changed so that sometimes you
are not sure what church you are in or whether you are in an AME Church?
Response: Some of
our pastors have not taken the time to understand the theological importance of
AME liturgy and the origins of AME liturgy and how our liturgy evolved. Some
pastors have not effectively mastered the “how too” of the AME liturgy.
Unfortunately, some pastors think the AME liturgy is keeping people from
joining AME Churches, but in my talking with pastors and laity, the AME liturgy
is what they love about AME worship. It’s the lack of biblical preaching and
teaching and the issues of how churches go about “asking” for money that
discourages parishioners. I feel that some of our pastors have been watching
too much TV and trying to imitate televangelists because they feel that the
televangelists’ techniques are responsible for their growth.
Whose job is it to
go find the sheep that are missing? If
local churches are failing, who bears responsibility? Pastor? Stewards? Lack of
spiritual, relevant local church programs?
Response: The “quick and dirty” response. Remember that parable about the Lost
Sheep? The shepherd rescued the lost sheep, but the ninety-nine sheep didn’t
stray, they stayed together. Using the shepherd / sheep motif, it’s the
responsibility of the sheep to grow the flock. Shepherds don’t grow flocks,
sheep through mating, following the shepherd and avoiding dangerous precipices,
precipitate growth. The shepherd cares for and nurtures the flock. In reality,
everyone; pastoral leadership, local church leadership, and parishioners all
have some responsibilities that lead to the growth of the local church.
Why are our
churches practically empty on Sunday mornings?
Response: Many churches and many denominations are experiencing loss of
membership. Denominations have struggled with best practices for years, so
empty or near empty churches, are not something new. I am reading that there is
movement of parishioners back to the mainstream denominations, even within
Catholicism. If that is true, I hope the AME Church will be ready to meet the challenge.
In the article on CNN’s Belief Blog entitled, "Why
millennials are leaving the church," Rachel Held Evans wrote about how
various churches using modern techniques tried to woo her to attend their
"Neither worked. I want calls to worship, benedictions, corporate prayer.
I want corporate confessions of sin, and corporate assurances of pardons. I
want singing where I can hear the congregation, and songs that are
theologically accurate and Christ-centered. I want good, solid Biblical
preaching where the pastor strives to preach the full counsel of God. I want
benedictions, and pastoral prayers, and the reading of Scripture." She
went on to write, "Time and again, the assumption among Christian leaders,
and evangelical leaders in particular, is that the key to drawing twenty-somethings back to church is
simply to make a few style updates – edgier music, more casual services, a
coffee shop in the fellowship hall...an updated website that includes online
giving. But here’s the thing: Having been advertised to our whole lives...we’re
not easily impressed with consumerism or performances. In fact, I would argue
that church-as-performance is just one more thing driving us away from the
church, and evangelicalism in particular. Many of us, myself included, are
finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions...precisely
because the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with
being 'cool,' and we find that refreshingly authentic. What millennials really
want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.
In response to
Evans' article Brett McCracken in and article in The Washington Post in an article entitled "How to keep
Millennials in the church? Let’s keep church un-cool" wrote, “We’re not
leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving
the church because we don’t find Jesus there.”
And let me add:
“Some of our AME churches are adding hip-hop, electrifying choirs and upbeat
music, dancing, musical instruments, ‘get your praise on theology’ as means of
increasing attendance. While those
things are great, I hope we are adding more about Jesus and the importance of
As an AME lady
recently wrote: “When we go to church, we should find something that we can
find nowhere else!
What has happened
to prayer meetings?
Response: The world has changed and the world continues to change. Lifestyles
have changed. Fifty – sixty years ago,
particularly in the black community, the church was the “big game” in
communities. There wasn’t as much to do, especially on Sundays.
Today, people are
busier and there are more things to do and more things competing for our
attention. Technology and
information-flow have changed the way we live and do business. Unfortunately, many churches have not kept up
with the societal changes. Some churches are using the same old Bible Study
techniques they have been using for years, not realizing that young people are
“wedded” to technology.
Prayer meetings and
Bible studies might reach more people if local church changed some of its
techniques. Telephonic prayer meetings
and even telephonic Bible study might be the “vehicle” to engage more
Why does Bible
study have to be on Wednesday night? It might be helpful for churches to “look
outside the box.” It’s probably time for churches to try new and innovative
approaches to reaching, not only the unchurched, but also as a means to reach
more of its parishioners. The local church has to be willing to try new things.
Is there a law that
prevents surprise visits at Sunday worship services from the Presiding Prelate?
Response: There is no law prohibiting bishops from making surprised visits.
What is the vision
for the AME Church for the future? Who
has a vision? Are visions to be shared with the congregation?
Response: Ideally, local church vision statements should be done in concert with
the AME Church “Mission, Vision, Purposes
and Objectives of the African Methodist Episcopal Church” as found in The Discipline.
should be developed by local churches specific to their locales because vision
realities might be different from one locale to another. If local churches
built their visions around the biblical AME Church Vision, we would all be
singing off the “same sheet of music.”
Are we teaching
that discipleship is costly? Do we know
that it requires sacrifice, commitment, accountability, leadership, to name a
Response: I hope we are teaching that discipleship is costly. You have “hit the
nail on the head,” discipleship requires sacrifice, commitment, accountability,
I think that
“Discipleship” is a buzzword around the AME Church. We are talking about
discipleship and preaching about it, but I wonder if we are teaching
discipleship and all that it entails at all levels of the Church?
I also suspect that
we have too many pastors and local church officers who are not committed to
discipleship; they are still working on the notion of church membership.
celebrated my threescore and ten and maybe I am just “old school,” but having
dedicated the larger portion of my 70 years to the AME Church, I find myself
extremely concerned (and truthfully downright frustrated) at the direction or
non-direction I perceive the AME Church to be going.
Response: I am concerned too. I want the AME Church to get “off the dime” and
let’s live the “Mission, Vision, Purposes
and Objectives of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.” Our “mission, vision and purposes and
objectives” are biblical and we should celebrate the African Methodist
Episcopal Church’s biblical foundation.
OP-ED: OBAMACARE AND THE 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF LINCOLN’S
Our nation cannot
yet celebrate the freeing of slaves 150 years after Lincoln’s Emancipation
Proclamation. This is because the plight of Black poverty, unemployment, health
care, housing and a variety of social ills remain unaddressed. But, President
Obama, now in his fifth year, is in a unique position to correct two of the
greatest concerns of the Black community- limited life expectancy and extremely
high infant mortality rates. This can be achieved through the Patient
Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, which will go
into full effect in 2014. It is overwhelming supported by the Black community.
In America today,
black life expectancy is four years less than for whites (78.8 for Whites
versus 74.7 for Blacks). The disparity between black males and whites males is
even greater (76.4 for Whites versus 71.4). As a result, the average Black male
will only be eligible for five years of social security benefits compared with
ten years for White males.
infant mortality rate for blacks when President Obama first took office was
more than twice the rate for whites and Latinos and almost three times greater
than for Asian Americans.
In very large
measure, this disparity is attributable to our pre-Obamacare lack of focus on
pre-natal care and the early years of childhood. In contrast, a quarter or more
of the U.S. three trillion dollar annual healthcare costs are expended
primarily on the last six months of life for those in their 80s and 90s. In
significant part, this is why the United States’ infant mortality rate is
almost three times higher than in Japan and twice as high as poorer nations,
such as Spain and Italy. And, surprisingly, our infant mortality rate is 20%
higher than in the underdeveloped nation of Cuba and even higher than in our
unincorporated territory of Guam.
Obamacare does not
yet focus on the limited Black life expectancy rate or the gaps in our infant
mortality rate. Many of our Black church leaders, however, believe that there
is hope, particularly in the context of President Obama’s recent forceful
speech on the need for upward mobility to eradicate these differences.
Preventive care services within the larger health reform agenda must come from
the back burner to the forefront.
A Church-led Plan
to Enhance Obamacare
Our goal is to cut
the Black infant mortality rate to the same level as in Japan (2 per 1,000).
Our plan is also to raise, under Obamacare, the Black life expectancy to at
least the 84 years achieved in Japan today. These plans will commence at our
August 19th Orange County Interdenominational Alliance meeting with pastors
from the minority community. Orange County was once home to one of the least
progressive movements in modern history, the John Birch Society.
These dreams are
realistic dreams. Life expectancy for Blacks has increased from 33 years in
1890 to over 74 years today. And, infant mortality for Blacks, which was 210
per thousand births in 1890, now has been reduced to just 6 per 1,000.
alliance efforts, led by black, brown, and Asian pastors, will benefit all
Americans, since health resources properly allocated will also increase White
life expectancy. For example, life expectancy in America was just 48 years in
1890 for Whites but could soon be 84 years under Obamacare and thereby match
the rate in Japan.
To ensure the
success of our plans, we will seek insights from the Latino and Asian American
pastoral communities. For many years, the Latino and Asian American life expectancy
rates have been higher than for Whites and their infant mortality rates lower
than for Whites.
Two Percent of
Budget Dedicated to Be First in the World in Life Expectancy under Obamacare
As in any major
national plan, there are omissions that could be corrected. The first is the
need to effectively reach out to the most underserved communities, such as to
our nation’s 44 million Blacks, in a culturally sensitive fashion. Effective
outreach is especially important, since our nation spends twice as much per
capita on healthcare than any other nation in the world, including the almost
thirty nations with higher life expectancies.
A second omission,
so far, is the absence of a specific set of targets and goals.
A third, and
perhaps the most important, omission is the absence of a specific allocation of
our three trillion dollar annual healthcare budget to a.) specifically decrease
infant mortality, b.) enhance healthcare for mothers and young children
and c.) aid our most vulnerable senior citizens. These objectives can be
reached, along with far greater public support for Obamacare, by allocating as
little as two percent of our three trillion dollar annual healthcare budget, or
sixty billion dollars a year over the next five years, to this effort.
As Dr. King stated
when Black life expectancy was less than 64 years and the average Black did not
live long enough to qualify for social security benefits, “We Shall Overcome.”
Mr. President, we
have great confidence that you will implement Dr. King’s dream of full equality
before your second term is over and help all Americans be a part of the middle
*The Rev. Mark
Whitlock, Senior Minister, Christ Our Redeemer AME Church and Executive
Director of the USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement
3. BISHOP SARAH DAVIS KEYNOTE
SPEAKER AT LOTT CAREY GLOBAL GATHERING IN WASHINGTON, DC:
2, 2013 – Washington, DC)
than 2500 people from across the United States as well as Guyana, Haiti, India,
Jamaica, Liberia, Nigeria and South Africa will attend the 116th Annual Session
of the Lott Carey Global Christian Missional Community convenes August 12 – 16,
2013 at the Washington, DC Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, 2600 Woodley Park Road,
purpose of the Annual Session is to inform and inspire people to invest in
Christian missions around the world.
Additionally attendees will provide special support for Washington, DC
area residents who are hungry and homeless through service and generosity.
We are pleased to announce keynote speaker,
Bishop Sarah F. Davis, Presiding Prelate of the 16th Episcopal District of the
African Methodist Episcopal church, which encompasses the Caribbean, South
America, Great Britain, and Holland, will deliver the missional message on
Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
Monday, August 12, some 300 attendees will provide volunteer service with
Washington, DC area programs and services that seek to relieve hunger and
homelessness through a “missions blitz.”
Monday, August 12, the organization will host 300 homeless residents of
Washington, DC for dinner and a gospel music concert. Washington, DC based, award winning recording
artist Richard Smallwood will headline the concert.
Wednesday, August 14, hundreds of attendees will participate in a “Pilgrimage
of Remembrance” visiting the National Mall in honor of the 50th Anniversary of
the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Attendees will visit the King and Lincoln
Memorials to reflect on the past and to recommit themselves to empowerment and
advocacy toward a more just world. 2013
is also the 200 anniversary of the liberation of Rev. Lott Carey, for whom the
organization is named, who was born enslaved in Virginia in 1790, purchased is
freedom in 1813, and led the first Baptist missionaries to Africa from the
United States in 1821. He settled in
Liberia and died in 1828.
Friday, August 16, the event will conclude with a Golf Tournament at Laurel
Hills Golf Club, Lorton, VA. Proceeds
from the tournament will support education in Liberia through the Lott Carey
Mission School that provides high quality education pre-kindergarten through
Annual Session is an amazing opportunity for people to expand their horizons,”
says Dr. Gregory K. Moss, Sr., President of Lott Carey and Pastor of St. Paul
Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC. “Churches
connected to the Lott Carey network to not have a myopic view of the witness of
the church. We have a broad view, and we
are enriched by our partnerships with people from continents all around the
to the Rev. Brenda K. Harewood, Superintendent-Pastor of Guyana Missionary
Baptist Church based in Georgetown Guyana. “Lott Carey doesn’t invest in
programs. They invest in people. And that makes all the difference in the
public is invited to evening worship and witness services at the Washington, DC
Marriott Wardman Park Hotel on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings at
the Organization: Founded in 1897 in Washington, DC by African-American
Baptists committed to the Christian witness in Africa, today Lott Carey is an
ecumenical, multi-cultural network with impact partnerships in Africa, Asia,
the Caribbean, Europe, North America, Oceania, and South America. The Lott Carey Global Christian Missional
Community (www.lottcarey.org) extends the Christian witness around the
world. Through prayer partnerships,
financial support, and technical assistance, Lott Carey builds the capacities
of indigenous communities engaged in ministries of evangelism, compassion,
empowerment, and advocacy. Together we
are touching lives through transforming love.
4. NATIONAL HIV TESTING DAY
IN NEW JERSEY:
Saturday, June 22, 2013, The New Jersey Human Development Corporation, a 501c3
non-profit Organization of the African Methodist Episcopal Church of the New
Jersey Annual Conference, hosted The National HIV Testing Day. The venue for this event was Greater Mt. Zion
AME Church located at 42 Pennington Avenue in Trenton, New Jersey.
preparation for this very important observance, letters were mailed, spots
on the WIMG Radio Station were made; flyers were distributed to churches,
barber shops, beauty salons, market places; and of course, the old fashioned
“word of mouth" were used to get the word out!
agency planned a "Free Concert" featuring singing artists Minister
William Carter, III, and Evangelist Dorothy Hayward. Other performances were given by liturgical
dance ministries from the First Baptist Church of Princeton, New Jersey,
and Greater Mt. Zion AMEC. Among other highlights of this
observance was a testimony given by a guest who was HIV
positive. The testimony was both informative and spirit-filled. It reiterated the reality that even if one is
HIV+, if they take their medicines, eat right, exercise, trust in God
and involve themselves in the life of the church, they can not only live
longer, but more importantly, be a witness of the grace and mercy of God! Mr. Bennie Macklin, radio personality from
WIMG, served as the Master of Ceremonies.
this event some 22 persons were tested. The HIV test
was administered by Kendall Clark, the Director of St. James Social
Service Corporation's Wellness Program of Newark, New Jersey, in affiliation
with St. James AMEC.
is widely known that HIV/AIDS continues to plague African Americans
at a higher rate than any other ethnicity. African Americans continue to
represent over 50% of reported new HIV infections and AIDS cases in the
Testing is not "A Black Thing, A White Thing, A Gay Thing, A Straight
Thing, A Young Thing, or An Old Thing, It's the Right Thing!"
testing can reduce the stigma and silence that feed HIV transmission and
disease progression. HIV infects anyone it encounters regardless of
income, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, race, geographical location or
social status. Anyone who hasn't been tested should get tested!
of this event were coordinated by the staff of NJHDC, including Rev.
Vernard Leak, CFO; Rev. J. Stanley Justice-CEO; Rev. Lynda Rassmann, Director
of Programs; Administrative Asst. Troy Bright and Quality Assurance
Officer, Beverly Hill. Included in the
attendance of more than 125 people were NJHDC Board Members Mr. Michael
Brown-Chairman and Ms. Patricia Smith-Treasurer.
during the month of June, the Southern Office of the New Jersey Human
Development Corporation participated in (2) HIV/AIDS Testing Day Events in the
city of Atlantic City. The June 1,
NJHDC partnered with St. Paul
All-Purpose Outreach Center – Pleasantville, New Jersey, the Atlantic City
Department of Health, and the Wiser
Charitable Organization and coordinated an
HIV/AIDS Testing event during "VetRock" at Baders Field in
Atlantic City. “VetRock” was an event
that honored Vietnam Veteran's which featured a family friendly rock band
concert and Lt. Col. Oliver North as the Keynote Speaker. On June 2, NJHDC partnered with The
Fellowship of Churches of Atlantic City & Vicinity to coordinate HIV/AIDS
testing during "Gospel on Tour," a free gospel concert held at the
Atlantic City Surf baseball stadium.
There were performances by John P. Key, Bubby Fann & Praise Beyond,
Regina Belle, and a host of gospel groups.
Each of these events was advertised by way of billboards, local
television advertisements, flyers, and newspaper articles. Between these (2) events, 10 persons were
tested for HIV/AIDS on the Atlantic City Health Department Mobile Testing Van.
New Jersey Human Development Corporation is funded by The New Jersey Department
of Health and Senior Services Public Health Services Branch Division of HIV,
STD and TB Services.
Rev. Dr. J. Stanley Justice is the CEO of The New Jersey Human Development and
the pastor of Greater Mt. Zion AMEC in Trenton, New Jersey
5. ST. MATTHEW – SHREVEPORT
RAISES AWARENESS ABOUT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE:
Rev. Glenell M. Lee-Pruitt, Ph.D., M.Div.
indicates that Alzheimer’s disease is the “silent disease” that is disproportionately
impacting the African American community.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “by the year 2030, the number
of African-Americans 65 or older is expected to more than double to 6.9
million. In order to bring awareness to
the community St. Matthew AME Church in Shreveport, Louisiana co-sponsored its
2nd Annual African American and Alzheimer’s Disease Symposium with the
Louisiana Alzheimer’s Association and Caddo Parish School System as
co-sponsors. The organizer of the
symposium was Mrs. Rosalyn Thibodeaux Goodall.
from throughout the Alzheimer’s community shared with participants of the
symposium the signs, symptoms and care for persons living with
Alzheimer’s. Persons who have been
personally impacted shared their stories of being the caretaker of loved ones
who have struggled through this debilitating disease.
African Americans are disproportionately impacted by this disease, they are a
small percentage of persons who are invited to participate in trials or
research. As this point was highlighted
in this symposium, a clergy outreach component was established to partner with
the local Alzheimer’s disease researcher to disseminate information about
trials and research to the community.
Dr. Glenell M. Lee-Pruitt will lead the effort to keep the African
American community aware as well as assist in the establishment of an
Alzheimer’s support group in Shreveport and the surrounding communities.
symposium was an ecumenical effort with individuals from the Christian
Methodist Church (CME), United Methodist Church (UMC), The Catholic Church
Diocese, and local Baptist churches attending and participating.
6. PAYNE CHAPEL AME CHURCH
CELEBRATES 5TH ANNUAL SWEET POTATO FESTIVAL:
August 17, 2013, Payne Chapel AME Church will celebrate its 5th Annual Sweet
Potato Festival. Payne Chapel AME Church
is located at 601 Priscilla Avenue in Duquesne, Pennsylvania. The Rev Dr. Helen
Milner Burton is the pastor.
Sweet Potato Festival celebration marks a tribute of a food item that was
introduced to the Americas during the period of the slave trade.
sweet potato originated in the mother-country of Africa and was a staple of the
of the Africans subjected to the slave trade brought the seeds with them to
America and soon it became a staple of the American slaves’ diet.
members of Payne Chapel thought it only fitting to honor this staple food. Many denominations have festivals such as
strawberry, peach and blueberry. Payne Chapel thought a Sweet Potato Festival
was a wonderful fundraiser.
the Sweet Potato Festival each organization of the church can sell any food
item, but all food items must be prepared from sweet potatoes.
Chapel has become famous for its delicacy of sweet potato ice cream and people
come from long distances to eat it.
African Methodist Episcopal Church has a wonderful and gracious history, so
join us and celebrate the history we have with sweet potatoes.
James A. Beatty is a member of Payne Chapel AME Church in Duquesne
7. NATIONAL NIGHT OUT IN THE
IVANHOE NEIGHBORHOOD IN KANSAS CITY MISSOURI:
Reverend Eraina M. Ross-Aseme, D. MIN
the police are criticized for the way they have handled the perpetrators of
crimes in the community. Unfortunately
history has shown for some undesirable cases where justice has not been
properly served. With the number of
crimes in our community; politicians and community leaders saw fit to create a
day to focus on ways to bring community police awareness to the communities
nationally in the United States. For that reason, sources stated that the
National Night Out affair was created nearly 30 years ago, 1984, and is the
first Tuesday in August. Also it was
stated that during this time awareness is made of: drug prevention,
neighborhood groups, and anti-crime efforts.
holding to this special day, on August 6, 2013 the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council
held the National Night Out outdoors of their headquarters. The Executive
Director Margaret May and Board members organized the affair in Kansas City,
leaders and residents from all walks of life were in attendance including the
media. As the affair was taking place you could see smoke coming from the
grills, as volunteers prepared grilled food for the attendees. Lots of food and
beverages were available for consumption at the National Night Out.
event was sponsored by Target Stores, Inc., which underscores the importance of
neighborhood groups forming partnership with area businesses. The Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council continues to
do to improve the standard of living for area residents. The Ivanhoe
Neighborhood has approximately 6,000 residents, and nearly sixty-nine percent
are registered voters.
activities took place in the Jim Nutter Park adjacent to the Ivanhoe
Neighborhood headquarters at the National Night Out.
of the National Night Out activities included face-painting, bingo, stocking
ball, poetry reading, and speeches.
the children were enjoying their time on the playground equipment and
participating in the recreational activities, I couldn’t help but to think on how
the church can be more involved in such a magnificent time of meeting the
residents of the community. A number of churches are co-located in the area
meet from time to time. The faith
community must take a more active role in crime prevention and drug awareness.
visiting with the residents and others during the National Night Out I was
reminded the relationships are formed “one person at a time.” Communicating
with others and discovering their interest goes a long way in forging and
pastor in the Ivanhoe Neighborhood community I have developed new friendships
that would have gone unnoticed if I had remained behind the four walls of the
body of Christ must step out of our comfort-zones and make sacrifices by
leaving the comfort of our homes and church pews to find out what’s going on in
to sources, the word ‘Go appears 1,492 times in the King James translation of
the Bible. Therefore let the faith
community expand its territory in getting involved in the community.
the end of the National Night Out outdoors of the Ivanhoe Neighborhood
headquarters and the James Nutter Park, the attendees were invited the join
hands by the Reverend Dr. Eraina M. Ross-Aseme.
She also announced that free school supplies were available.
Reverend Eraina M. Ross-Aseme, D. MIN is the pastor of Cain Grant African
Methodist Episcopal Church in Kansas City, Missouri
8. NAACP MOURNS LOSS
OF NORTH CAROLINA ATTORNEY JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
(North Carolina) – The NAACP mourns the loss of civil rights
icon and attorney Julius L. Chambers. Chambers passed away Friday night.
“Julius Chambers was one of the great legal minds of the
past few decades,” stated NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock. “He understood the
inherent value of diversity in education, and also understood how to go about
achieving that ideal. He changed North Carolina, and the country, for the
better, and he will be sorely missed.”
“Julius Chambers lived through the bombing of his car, his
office and even his home, but he never stopped working to advance civil and
human rights,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “He was a
tenacious defender of the right to a fair education and a fair shot at a better
“He also gave me a shot early in my career,” added Jealous.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for Julius Chambers.”
“We can learn much from his low-key, but militant approach
to the duty of our generation--to complete the work of dismantling the structural
and psychological racism that grips our society,” stated NC NAACP State
Conference President Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II. “He knew no fear. He never
took one step backwards, always marching forward together, directly into the
ugly ignorance and violence against him by white racist vigilantes who torched
his car, his law office, his father's business in Mt. Gilead, and dynamited his
law office. Brilliance in the law was his weapon --courage in the face and
commitment to justice was his ethical compass.”
“The North Carolina NAACP has over 24,000 members in over
100 Branches across the State,” stated NC NAACP State Conference First Vice
President Carolyn Coleman. “Julius Chambers must have represented hundreds of
them, knew thousands of them, and changed the lives of all of them by his
steadfast life of justice. He filed many major suits on behalf of our members.”
“The state of North Carolina and the nation have lost a
tremendous civil rights leader,” stated NAACP Board of Directors Member Leonard
Springs. “Julius and I were good friends. Personally I am sad to hear from the
loss, but from a civil rights perspective, Julius paved the way – particularly
here in North Carolina – fighting injustice. The community as a whole has lost
a tremendous leader. If you look back at his life fighting school desegregation
cases, education in North Carolina is much better off because of Julius. His
home was bombed, his office was bombed, but he never gave up. He is a true
civil rights pioneer.”
Chambers argued a number of important civil rights cases,
including Swann v. the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education in 1971, which
helped integrate schools in North Carolina. His firm was the first racially
integrated law practice in the state.
From 1984 to 1993, Chambers served as president and chair of
the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He later served for eight years as Chancellor of
his alma mater, North Carolina Central University.
9. GETTING TO ZERO:
A younger brother of one of my host families died two weeks
ago. He was 29 years old. Another gone too soon.
His two years older brother could not believe that this
younger comrade would no longer sit across the table at a meal, or share a
laugh as they met at the flat again at the end of day. They would no longer
discuss the latest ways they might earn a few kwacha or, while sharing a Mosi
on a Friday evening, mull over what
they would do to further enjoy the weekend in Lusaka.
I have not asked the cause of his death. At the appropriate
provided time we also will talk about this.
One USA team member from my home university is in Zambia for
three weeks to better understand the impacts of HIV/AIDS. He has come to a
country where the Ministry of Health states that 1 in every 8 persons are
infected with HIV. We are making follow-up site-visits in Lusaka and
Livingstone communities with clergy leaders, pastors, missionaries, teachers
and presiding elders who have gone through the biology-based education approach
designated as the Trusted Messenger Intervention (TMI).
TMI provides biomedical insights to bring about more than a
surface level understanding of how HIV leads to AIDS and what can be done to
stop this. Some of what has been in the Getting to Zero (G20) column over its
inaugural year is content that is part of TMI sessions. The G20 content also is
part of an intensive course on “What Effective Clergy Should Know about
HIV/AIDS” taught at Payne Theological Seminary.
In the site-visits, we find that religious leaders who
complete the two-day TMI workshops and attend a follow-up session provide even
more services to their congregations and communities. Gaining a deeper
understanding of HIV as simply a fragile virus helps such dedicated leaders to
more confidently address HIV/AIDS and related issues. These leaders understand
that AIDS is not a mystery disease or a punishment for sin. They get that
HIV/AIDS is not witchcraft nor just something that happens. They understand
that it is preventable and that progression to AIDS from infection with HIV can
be slowed. They get that AIDS will occur eventually if nothing is done to fight
against virus destruction of CD4 T-cells that are a central coordinator of the
body’s immune defense system.
These leaders are tired of burying people who die too young.
They want to reduce the ongoing struggles for basic needs of shelter, food,
education, guidance and care by young children who too soon lose their mother
and/or father. These trusted messenger leaders want to meet the needs of older
dependent mothers, usually widows, or fathers who are left behind when their
daughters or sons are no longer alive.
These religious leaders engage in a range of ways to more
effectively address HIV/AIDS. They incorporate the subject in sermons, Bible
studies, counseling sessions and church planning and official board meetings.
They better know what to do or say, or where to make referrals when counseling
people for new marriage, baptisms, marital issues or illness. They seek out,
encourage and support church members who want to address health issues
including HIV/AIDS. From a place of knowing, a place of confidence as prepared
disciples, they are welcoming in worship and in membership to people who are
living with HIV/AIDS. They are more supportive of community activities with
other clergy leaders and congregations and eagerly partner with neighborhood
Most importantly, these leaders model the first required step
to stop HIV. They get HIV testing and counseling (HTC) often, regardless of
their marital status.
responsible leaders do.
A fresh example in
At the Board of Christian Education (BOCE) Congress in April
2013 in the 17th Episcopal District, the Episcopal leaders, Bishop Wilfred J.
Messiah and Supervisor Carol Messiah along with the Episcopal Director of
Christian Education, the Rev. Dr. Royd Mwandu- made sure that HIV/AIDS was
incorporated throughout the week long 2013 BOCE agenda. There was a first day
plenary session to update attendees on progress and directions of ongoing
research in Zambia to validate effectiveness of the Trusted Messenger
There were afternoon
breakout discussions sessions on other days with the Lay Organization on
“De-stigmatizing HIV/AIDS” and with the young adult and missionaries on
“Preventing Cervical Cancer and HIV/AIDS.”
There was free on-site HIV rapid-testing all day on
Saturday. The conference attendees were well-prepared to take advantage of such
Over 160 attendees at the 2013 17th
District BOCE Congress eagerly lined up to get a number so they could
participate in the on-site HIV testing and counseling (HTC).
While attending their various conference
meetings and mingling with colleagues, they kept an eye on the chalkboards that
displayed, in intervals of 10, what numbers would be up next. They knew when to
be “on deck” to be guided to one of the three outdoor confidential test sites
conveniently set up among sites of other activities on the BOCE campus grounds.
It was a beautiful sunny Saturday in April and three testers
and a coordinating nurse tested 124 people. The HTC personnel, rapid test kits,
equipment and privacy screens were provided by the District Office of the
Ministry of Health in Zambia. Although the three testers did more than the
usual daily number for one HIV counselor, at the end of the day, conference
attendees who had numbers above 124 had to wait for the next HTC opportunity.
Those with 124 or lower numbers received HTC and were given a simple solid
orange dot lapel sticker. This sticker identified them as engaged leaders who
took the first responsible step in controlling HIV/AIDS for themselves, their
congregations and their communities.
At this BOCE Congress whose theme was “Making Disciples for
Radical Transformation”, there was an excited atmosphere of empowerment and
collective purpose on many issues including HIV/AIDS.
Throughout Saturday, more and more orange
lapel stickers appeared among the over 400 attendees.
This is but one example of how we move forward.
To eliminate HIV/AIDS, we move forward one
person at a time. One person at a time can understand more and then decide to
This is how the number of new infections begins to decline
and continues to decline each year to eventually get to zero.
This is how the deaths too soon from AIDS-related illness,
or whatever other causes, can decline and eventually get to zero.
This is how no informed person willingly exposes themselves
to HIV through contact with semen, vaginal fluid, blood or breast milk as the
only fluids in which HIV can be transmitted.
This is how one well-established religious network, the
global AME Church, can work even more effectively through its individual
Episcopal Districts, conferences, presiding elder districts and local
congregation levels to exponentially amplify the many efforts that already
occur in various locations.
This is how we move forward to higher consistent effective
sustained levels of taking control of HIV/AIDS, a preventable virus infection.
Stopping HIV is a matter of what we do with what already is
The necessary transformation is happening
with HIV/AIDS in our Zion. It must continue. The 17th
District BOCE Congress in 2013 is one example. It is not the only Episcopal
District, whose committed leaders has been and continues to be on-task in
addressing HIV/AIDS to move towards zero. We CAN stop HIV/AIDS.
Vision for “Getting
Last week was the one year anniversary of the debut of
“Getting to Zero” (G20). I sincerely thank the TCR Editor, Dr. Calvin Sydnor,
for the invitation and encouragement to initiate the column, and for his input
on its metamorphosis. I am deeply grateful to TCR readers who have communicated
your responses. We applaud and encourage those on multiple continents who have
begun to implement the actions suggested.
In the last TCR
issue, Dr. Sydnor announced plans for continuing G20.
We realize that HIV/AIDS, unfortunately, is not the only
illness that contributes to a disproportionately heavy disease burden for
people of color all around the globe.
the upcoming year, G20 will provide biomedical insights and discussions for a
deeper understanding of other preventable or treatable illnesses.
Some examples are asthma, cancer, chlamydia,
COPD, dementia as in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, depression,
diabetes, fistula, hepatitis, herpes, hypertension, human papilloma virus
infection, influenza, kidney disease, malaria, stroke and tuberculosis.
You are invited to suggest others that should
be addressed and invited to make written contributions.
We implore AMEC members and leaders to engage, however you
can best engage to individually and collectively move forward for wellness.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…”
Hosea 4: 6a
10. MEDITATION BASED
ON REVELATION 2:8-10:
I drove past one of Charleston, South Carolina’s high
schools today and saw something that made me nostalgic - a high school band on
the practice field, braving the August heat to get ready for another marching
That sight took me back to my
days as a member of the “Booker T. Washington High School Marching 100” in
Columbia, SC and the “South Carolina State University Marching 101” in
Summer band practice - or “band camp” as it’s called these
days - was no easy endeavor, especially for those in their first year on the
First year band members had to
adjust to memorizing music, learning drills and formations, running laps around
the practice field to build up endurance and taking “grief” from older band
members who enjoyed putting “rookies” through the difficulties that they’d once
Some of those who started out in summer band practice found
the regimen to be too demanding and the rules to be too strict so they gave up
and walked away, but those of us who hung in and measured up had the great
pleasure at the end of the summer of being fitted for and picking up our band
uniforms - the tangible evidence that we’d made the band.
Remember my summer band experience as you face life’s daily
There’s no such thing as a
trouble free life.
The best of us face
struggles, trials, criticism and disappointment that can easily make us want to
back up, give up, give in and settle for simply getting by and coping with what
comes our way as best we can.
We’d do well, however, to realize that the same God who
helped those like me to make it through band camp helps each of us to bear
life’s toil, endure life’s pain, come forth stronger at the end of the struggle
and claim and enjoy the blessings that are tangible evidence that we’ve
triumphed and made it over.
Living in this world will bring all of us our share of
demands, trials and challenges, but that’s not what matters.
What matters is that when trust the God who
is still our refuge and strength to sustain us, even in our most difficult times,
we’ll be clothed in new victory, new comfort and new joy that give us a new
appreciation for why one hymn writer said, “When the battle’s over, we shall
wear a crown in the New Jerusalem.”
11. FROM THE DESK OF
THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE AMEC CLERGY FAMILY INFORMATION CENTER:
- Email posting modifications and requested submission
"O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good, His mercy
endureth for ever."
On Wednesday, August 7th
I underwent total knee
replacement surgery on my right knee at the Williamson Medical Center, 4321
Carothers Parkway, Franklin, TN.
encourage your prayers for my strength of focus, patience and for perseverance
during my rehabilitation process.
Posting modifications and requested submission guidelines:
Episcopal district headquarters, presiding elders and others may continue to
email bereavements notices to Amespouses1@bellsouth.net
or to the ministry domain email address, Oeasleyl@amecfic.net
I plan to monitor communications on my iPhone
and I anticipate being able to set up a temporary portable office with bulk
email capability as soon as possible and am able to do so.
Bereavement notices "only" will be posted through
Wednesday, August 21, 2013.
congratulatory announcements received will resume on Friday, August 23, 2013.
My telephone contact number: 615-403-7751 (cell).
To free me from making telephone calls to bereaved clergy
families or to mortuaries for the purpose of obtaining service information
during the next couple of weeks, all persons submitting bereavement notices are
respectfully requested to adhere to the following submission guidelines:
a. Bereavement notices should contain service-date, service
location (address) and the service hour. Family visitations may also be
included. Please check calendar for the service day of the week. Include as
well, any “in lieu of” requests.
b. Include the name, address and telephone number and fax
number for the mortuary (funeral home) providing services.
c. Include contact information for sending expressions of
sympathy and condolences to the bereaved family member(s), mailing address,
accompanied by a telephone number and a valid email address, if available. Make
certain that all names are spelled correctly.
d. Send all information to be posted in "one"
email communication and send as a Microsoft Word email attachment.
e. Bereavement notices not submitted from Episcopal District
headquarters or presiding elder's offices should include the name and title of
the person submitting the notice.
Thank you in advance for your understanding, your conformity
to the submission guidelines and for your prayers.
Ora L. Easley, Administrator
The AME Church Clergy Family Information Center
(615) 833-6936 (O) * (615) 403-7751 (C) * (615) 837-9736 (H)
12. EPISCOPAL FAMILY
We regret to inform you of the passing of Brother James
Egbert Thomas, the son of the Late Bishop C. E. Thomas & Supervisor Susie
Jamar Thomas of Birmingham, Alabama.
Brother James Thomas made his transition from labor to reward on
Saturday, August 3, 2013.
The information for the celebration of Life for Brother
James Egbert Thomas is as follows:
Condolences may be sent to:
Office Telephone: 205.251-3764
13. CLERGY FAMILY
We regret to inform you of the passing of Mrs. Rosie Lee
Jones. Mrs. Jones is the mother of the Reverend Dr. Leah Gaskin Fitchue,
President of Payne Theological Seminary, and Ms. Khadijah Kauthar-Muhammad,
East Orange, New Jersey. Mrs. Jones is the former president of the Nurses Unit
of St. James AME Church, Newark, New Jersey.
The following information has been provided regarding
588 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
The Reverend Ronald Slaughter, Pastor
Eulogist: Bishop Jeffrey N. Leath
Presiding Prelate of the Thirteenth Episcopal District
Expressions of Sympathy may be sent to:
1 Court Street, Apt. 14-I
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting a donation to
the Rosie Lee Jones Scholarship Fund to support the educational agenda of the
St. James AME Church Nurses Unit. Donations may be sent to:
14. CLERGY FAMILY
Bishop William P. DeVeaux and the Second Episcopal District
Family share news about the Celebration of Life for the Rev. Norman Blackston
Viewing will be held on Friday, August 2, 2013, 6-8 p.m. at
Grace AME Church, 67 1/2 Winters Lane, Catonsville, Maryland 21228; telephone:
410-744-3120; the Rev. Howard Wright, Pastor.
The Funeral Service was held on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at
Mt. Olive AME Church in Worton, Maryland the Rev. Isaac Wilson serves as the
Expressions of sympathy may be sent to:
15. CLERGY FAMILY
It is with sorrow that we inform you that Donald Eugene Spiller,
the son of the Rev. Donald Spiller, pastor of St. Paul AME Church in Milton,
Pennsylvania passed away on Friday, August 2, 2013; he was 61 years of age.
The Homegoing service was held on Wednesday, August 7, 2013
at the Dale Ranck Funeral Home in Milton, Pennsylvania. The Rev. Bertha
Morrison was the eulogist.
Expressions of sympathy may be mailed to:
ANNOUNCEMENTS PROVIDED BY:
Ora L. Easley, Administrator
AMEC Clergy Family Information Center
Phone: (615) 837-9736 (H)
Phone: (615) 833-6936 (O)
17. CONDOLENCES TO THE BEREAVED FROM THE CHRISTIAN RECORDER:
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
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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