The Reverend Dr. Johnny Barbour, Jr., Publisher
The Reverend Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III, the 20th Editor, The Christian Recorder
1. TCR EDITORIAL – SIXTEEN YEARS INTO THE 21ST CENTURY AND MANY ARE FUNCTIONING AS THEY DID IN THE 20TH CENTURY:
Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III
The 20th Editor of The Christian Recorder
Time flies! It seems like yesterday that I was given permission to set up an AME Church email listserve so information could be shared electronically.
It was 1999 at the CONVO being held in Philadelphia. I can still hear Bishop John Adams say, “Okay, Chaplain go ahead and set up the list.” I got a piece of paper and about 20-30 persons wrote their email addresses. I didn’t realize history was being made because if I had, I would have saved the list instead of throwing it away after recording the names on my computer.
We lose a lot of important documents because we don’t realize their historical and denominational importance.
At the CONVO, I had stood up and cautioned those in attendance that the new millennium of the 21st Century was fast approaching and that it was important that we, as a C(c)hurch, needed to embrace technology and move along the “information highway” into the 21st Century, with the rest of the world community.
A group of us who had computers and were connected to the Internet began to exchange and share information about what was going on in the AME Church. We didn’t know it at the time, and I had no idea, but that was the genesis of The Christian Recorder Online.
The AME Church technology pioneers
The AME Church had technology pioneers prior to the Philadelphia CONVO.
We had AME technology pioneers that included the late Rev. John Fisher who published A.M.E. Today. He was preaching to a reluctant crowd and I was one of the reluctant ones. The Rev. John Fisher was ahead of his time! He saw technological innovations the rest of us couldn’t see.
Other pioneers included the Rev. Alton Paris, Eric and Stephanie Stradford, and a layman from the Baltimore area whose name I cannot remember, and later the A.M.E. Herald published by the Rev. Denise Rogers.
There were others whose names I didn’t and don’t know, but wish I knew their names so I could list them.
The AME Church had visionaries and even though we got off to a slow start, we got off to a start.
And, though we got off to a slow start, a number of our pastors and laity became computer-savvy and some of our churches got connected to the internet, but, collectively, we are behind the “eight-ball.” Some of it is due to the digital divide, which is driven by the lack of financial resources, but some of it is the result a refusal to embrace technology.
Some people are stuck in the mud with the attitude of “This is the way we have always done it.” Too many pastors and laity are mired in the past. They refuse to embrace technology because they are comfortable living in the past and are fearful or lazy about learning new and creative ways of doing things.
I am going to say it again!
Annual Pastor’s Reports, Quarterly Conference Reports, and reports to the General Secretary, instead of being electronically submitted are still being submitted in paper format and some cases, handwritten. This is absolutely ludicrous, preposterous, unbelievable, ridiculous, and insane.
Almost 16 years into the 21st Century and we have pastors, presiding elders and local church leaders functioning today as it was done in the 20th Century. We can do better!
I said it back in January 2008 and I will say it again; the time has come for the bishops of the Church to courageously exercise their Godly judgment in the areas of progress and technology and to say to presiding elders and pastors, “Beginning now, all reports will be submitted electronically. No more paper reports! No more handwritten reports! All reports must be submitted electronically! No exceptions! No excuses! If you are unable to submit electronic reports, perhaps this job is not for you.”
In this day and age every bishop, all presiding elders, every pastor and every applicant for the ministry should be technologically savvy.
Presiding elders need to be courageous and say to pastors, “Beginning immediately, no more paper Quarterly Conference reports; all Quarterly Conference reports will be submitted electronically and I should receive the reports before the quarterly conference!”
Pastors should be courageous and say to the presidents of their local church boards, “Beginning immediately, all local church reports will be submitted electronically.” If the local church leaders need training, training should be provided to them.
Technology is a way of life. Technology has changed the way we receive news, do our banking, and is used in education. Technology increases efficiencies in the church and saves money.
I am still amazed that some churches do not have messaging information on their telephones. I am surprised that some pastors do not use their mobile telephones as their “office number.”
If a pastor has a smartphone with the lowest data plan, he or she, in addition to making and receiving telephone calls, could access the internet, send and receive emails and use apps. If they cancelled their land-line telephone service, there would be no payment increase.
I am amazed that there are churches that are not connected to the internet. I am equally surprised that some episcopal districts and connectional websites are not functional. Every presiding elder district should have a website. I am amazed that some pastors are not connected to the internet. We are now at the point where every church should have a computer and be connected to the internet.
Bishops and presiding elders must have a clear vision for the Church and the wherewithal to make executive leadership decisions that will facilitate operational efficiencies and church growth. If we are going to be an effective connectional church for this century we must not operate with a laissez-faire style of leadership.
Some might argue that we have a lot of small local churches that are financially constrained and pastors and presiding elders who are not computer-savvy. Computers today are relatively inexpensive. New computers at Wal-Mart and other big chain outlets are relatively inexpensive.
Computer literacy is not rocket science and I hate to hear people say, “I am too old to learn that computer stuff.” If I were a betting man I would bet that there is at least one person in every church that is computer savvy. If a church has teenagers, the church has computer experts. It just takes time and a willingness to learn about technology.
And, another thing
Let me say this again, electronic transfer of funds is more efficient than checks and cash. I am going to keep preaching this; the time has passed for pastors to be standing around waiting for their pay checks each Sunday or a presiding elder to be standing around waiting for his or her quarterly conference check. Just go to the bank and set up the program for automatic payment of salaries and even bills.
Local churches should arrange for an electronic transfer of funds to pay their pastors, pay the presiding elder assessments, and if local churches wanted to be more efficient, pay all of their bills electronically. The electronic payment of bills is more efficient and creates a more professional environment.
The time has come to use technology to enhance ministry and to increase operational efficiencies.
Actually it is past time for the AME Church to transition into the 21st Century. We are almost 16 years into this century and if not now, when?
Why am I saying this again?
I am saying this again because we're almost 16 years into the 21st Century and too many of us are functioning as we did in the 20th Century.
Here are some examples
Here is a broad sweep – too many churches have not embraced technology. Too many clergy and laity refuse to embrace technology. Without technology a lot of information and services cannot be accessed.
For example, the AMEC General Secretary, Dr. Jeffery Cooper, operates an informative AMEC Website and has implemented a number of underused initiatives to include DropBox, which a lot of people refuse to use.
The posting of documents on DropBox during General Board Meetings and even during the General Conference would eliminate the use of paper. We wouldn’t have to waste time passing out paper documents that persons could easily and quickly access on their smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Dr. Cooper’s office also created an AMEC App with a one-time cost of 99 cents. If the AME Church has the constituent numbers we say we have, there should be 500,000 purchases of the AMEC App; okay maybe not 500,000 but maybe 50,000.
Another glaring example, the AMEC Publisher, Dr. Johnny Barbour, Jr. and his staff created an electronic version of The Doctrine and Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Church 2012. There had been a wide outcry of an electronic version and less than 800 have been sold. And, one excuse repeatedly heard is that “a hardcopy version had been purchased and they didn’t need a hardcopy and an electronic version.” Duh! I have hardcopy and electronic Bibles and there is no conflict, they actually compliment each other. I hope that excuse will not be used when The 2016 Doctrine and Discipline is released.
Why do some pastors insist on having a hardcopy slick, photo-filled annual conference report when they could share the same information electronically, unless there is another reason for their need to pass out paper reports? I know it’s the way we used to share the local church ministry, but it’s not the most cost-effective way to share information in the 21st Century.
I am not sure why local churches are not using teleconferences, especially in urban areas and for congregations where many of the members are senior citizens. Most of the same business done in face-to-face (F2F) meetings could be done via teleconference.
I don’t understand why Boards of Examiners are insisting on face-to-face classroom instructions for applicants for ministry when an online platform would be just as effective, take less time and would insure accountability. Intensive weekends could be scheduled that would allow the board and students to interact face-to-face. Online classes have face recognition tools to insure that persons who are supposed to do the work are doing the work.
Why do pastors /presiding elders have to travel across the episcopal district for meetings with the bishop that could be done via teleconference?
The use of technology takes some “getting used to” and it involves a change of mindset. The use of technology can be uncomfortable and some leaders might feel an erosion of power with the absence of physical bodies for meetings.
The bottomline is that we are almost 16 years into the 21st Century and it’s time we, especially those of us who are older, embrace the available technology because it increases efficiencies and simply stated, it’s the world we live in and our youth are comfortable with technology and all it has to offer. Let the youth teach us!
2. READER RESPONSE TO EDITORIAL AND OTHER ISSUES:
-- To the Editor:
RE: TCR Editorial – Even in the Church, Satisfaction or Dissatisfaction Impacts Stewardship
I also share some of your anguish when it comes to paying my bills. Ever since entering the work world, the first line item in my budget is "tithe/church offering." This is the advice that I also give to young people when they begin working. It is not about the clergy, it is all about the goodness of God blessing you to earn a paycheck.
Ms. Virginia Langford
3. NEWS AROUND THE AME CHURCH:
-- The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and Nashville Unites Support Charleston, South Carolina
Read more: http://www.cfmt.org/
4. NATIONAL PRESS CLUB LUNCHEON WITH THE RIGHT REVEREND JOHN RICHARD BRYANT, SENIOR BISHOP AME CHURCH:
*Mrs. Robin Porter Smith is the Second Episcopal District Christian Education Director
On Wednesday, August 12, 2015 during the noon hour, the Right Reverend John Richard Bryant, Senior Bishop of the AME Church and Presiding Prelate of the Fourth Episcopal District of the AME Church processed into the luncheon room of the National Press Club and was seated on the dais. The Rev. Dr. Cecelia Williams Bryant – Senior Supervisor, The Right Reverend William Phillips DeVeaux – Presiding Prelate of the Second Episcopal District of the AME Church, Dr. PAM DeVeaux – Supervisor, John Hughes – President of the National Press Club and National Press Club members C. Nasser Ahmad, Robert McPherson, Shana Thomas, Bruce Johnson, Donna Ligey, Jeff Ballou, George Thompson, Denise Rolark Barnes, and Noel St. John processed with Bishop Bryant and were seated on the dais.
Bishop Bryant was introduced and spoke on the shootings at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, gun control, and racism. He recounted the events of Wednesday, June 17, 2015 at Mother Emmanuel and noted the good and bad things, which happened. Bishop Bryant compared the “good stuff” to Easter, which follows Good Friday. Some Good Stuff – Joseph Riley, the Mayor of Charleston spent the night with the persons gathered in front of Mother Emmanuel, Nikki Haley – the Governor of South Carolina said the perpetrator will be brought to justice and it was time to remove the confederate flag from the state capital, the AME Church received global communication, which included monetary donations for Mother Emmanuel and expressions spiritual and physical support, Church services in black communities were integrated, and many persons from other races acted like black lives mattered. Some Bad Stuff – the nation’s love affair with the gun and racism. Bishop Bryant cited examples of gun incidents such as violence in the home, suicides, and persons shot mistakenly. He noted legislative houses across the nation are developing laws, which will legalize the carrying of a gun in public. The Senior Bishop defined racism as the need to look down on someone or to not see someone, to become invisible in a culture. Racism is a challenge to the church, especially the black church. Bishop Bryant noted the progress of African-Americans but expressed concern with increasing numbers of poor African-Americans. Racism is a challenge for some whites because of the inability to not see or recognize the disparities in education and the application of law between whites and blacks. Thus a challenge for our white brothers and sisters of good will involves the ministry of presence (action) on behalf of the marginalized and oppressed.
Questions from the audience involved gun control, the AME Church and future role in civil rights, leadership of the black lives matter movement, and steps to reduce racism. Bishop Bryant noted gun control will happen when the people get enough of violence. Bishop Bryant reminded us to never confuse the presence of the camera with the presence of our activity as many churches are on the firing line without publication. He cited the presence of the news media immediately following the shooting at Mother Emmanuel and the focus of the media on the Republican Presidential candidates. The Senior Bishop cited the opening of schools and the invitation to other cultures to experience African Methodism as examples of the church at work. Bishop Bryant expressed concern regarding the large number of African-Americans suffering without jobs or underpaying jobs and cited the expression of this frustration appears as a disorganized movement but is the cry of the human soul. This group is telling us we heard what you said about non-violence but it’s not working. Therefore the church is catching up to those feelings. Bishop Bryant asked white brothers and sisters of good will to speak to racist statements and black brothers and sisters to reaffirm self-worth within the community. Bishop Bryant announced a news conference will be held on September 2, 2015 where an agenda will be presented, which will help to unite the nation and ensure the nation appears humane to all of its citizens.
Bishop Bryant received a standing ovation from the diverse audience. Numerous AMEs, including the International WMS President for the AME Church, Dr. Shirley Cason Reed, attended the luncheon. The Church, especially the AME Church, is moving on!
Persons wishing to view Bishop Bryant’s speech and his responses to audience questions during the National Press Club luncheon can be viewed at press.org. Robin Porter Smith is a candidate for Executive Director of Christian Education for the AME Church.
*Mrs. Robin Porter Smith is the Second Episcopal District Christian Education Director
5. INVITATION TO ATTEND THE 9TH EPISCOPAL DISTRICT UNITY DAY RALLY:
I am writing to extend a cordial invitation to you, from the 9th Episcopal District, as we welcome The Honorable Robert J. Bentley, the Governor of Alabama, to our Unity Day Rally on Tuesday, September 15, 2015, at Noon at the Daniel Payne Community Plaza. Governor Bentley will receive the Inaugural Rosa L. Parks Profile of Courage Award. He will be honored for his moral courage in taking a bold step in removing a divisive symbol of Alabama’s history, the Confederate flag. The theme of the rally is “One Nation Under God: Lord, Let It Be.”
The rally will feature Bishop John R. Bryant, Senior Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, ecumenical leaders throughout the state of Alabama, elected representatives, and university officials. We expect no less than 2,000 AMEs from across the state of Alabama to be in attendance.
It would be my honor to have you share this momentous occasion with us, to bear witness to this historic event in African Methodism. We have an opportunity to articulate the mission of the AME Church directly to the Governor of our state. In doing so, we make our voices heard and solidify our relationship with the highest office in Alabama for our present concerns and for future generations.
What we do in Alabama could have an impact on the mission of the AME Church nationally and internationally. This is especially important as the country prepares for a 2016 Presidential Election. God has positioned our church to take the lead in making our state, country and world a better place. Now is the time to seize the blessing.
Further, you are invited to remain for the official opening of the 6th Session of the Northwest Alabama Annual Conference at 4:00 p.m., and the Women’s Missionary Society Night in White Candlelight Service at 6:30 p.m.
Let us join together with so many others who are ready to stand with the AME Church in unity to make a difference. There is much work to do. The Unity Day Rally is the first step.
Please contact Ms. Janet Benjamin at (205) 326-4499, in my office to confirm your attendance. I look forward to greeting you in Birmingham on Tuesday, September 15, 2015, at Noon at the Daniel Payne Community Plaza.
Bishop James L. Davis, Servant Bishop is the presiding Prelate of the 9th Episcopal District
6. REPORT FROM THE 34TH BIENNIAL SESSION OF THE CONNECTIONAL LAY ORGANIZATION:
By John Thomas III
The 34th Biennial Session of the Connectional Lay Organization (CLO) of the African Methodist Episcopal Church was held from August 2-6, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Over 1200 delegates, alternates and observers gathered to participate in business and Christian fellowship under the leadership of CLO President Dr. Willie C. Glover, Jr., CLO Director of Lay Activities Edith B. Cartledge and General Board Lay Commission Chairperson Bishop William P. DeVeaux, Sr. The 7th Episcopal District hosted the meeting under the guidance of Bishop Richard F. Norris, Sr., Episcopal District Lay President Roger Cleckley and Episcopal District Director of Lay Activities Gloria McClam.
Organized activities for the Biennial began on August 2 with several cultural and historical excursions around Charleston available for early arriving delegates. The Executive Board met to deal with last minute convention business. In the evening, the 7th Episcopal District grandly hosted a “Taste of Charleston” with lively local music and sumptuous cuisine welcoming the Connectional church to the “low country.”
The Biennial began in earnest on August 3rd with the First Business Session. After being called to order, special recognition was given to the family of Charleston shooting victim Walter Scott and a moving tribute was paid to the nine martyrs of Mother Emanuel led by 5th District Lay President Simeon Rhoden. Connectional Social Action Director Jackie Dupont-Walker presented comprehensive resolution outlying actions that the Connectional Lay Organization and the entire AME Church should be seized in the wake of the Emanuel Nine tragedy and the ongoing investigation into the death of Sandra Bland. Foremost on the was an invitation to the delegation to travel to Washington, DC on September 2, 2015, to support the AME Church as it launches the Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) program with bishops, pastors, laity and other registered citizens in this country. The Honorable James Clyburn, Assistant Minority Leader for the US House of Representatives and member of Morris Brown AME Church in Charleston presented warm greetings to those assembled. The Biennial Keynote address was then presented by Charleston area lawyer F. Renee Gathers. In the afternoon, the Biennial endeavored to navigate through its agenda. Due to logistical concerns, several reports were delayed and several Committees delayed in meeting. Nonetheless, the Biennial progressed as best as able.
The Opening Worship and Communion Service occurred in the evening. Greetings were extended by Bishop Richard Norris who is convalescing from his successful kidney transplant. In stately fashion, the 7th Episcopal District Choir demonstrated the diversity of the AME musical heritage in anthems, hymns, spirituals and contemporary songs. The sermon “We Need Only the Best When Serving God” was delivered by Bishop William P. DeVeaux, Sr. from Acts 15:1, 3, 7, 9.
August 4th was dedicated towards training activities coordinated by Mrs. Edith Cartledge. The training was structured into general plenary sessions branching into specific workshops in the afternoon. The first plenary was “The Role of the Laity in Health Growing and Relevant Churches lead by Bishop Reginald T. Jackson. The second plenary was entitled “Worship in the Low County” and lead by Presiding Elder Wayne Parrott, Rev. Randolph Miller, and Rev. Bill Swinton. Also during the day, Retired General Officer Dr. Jayme Coleman Williams addressed the assembly exhorting them to seek fairer representation for women and laypersons in the Connectional Church by: 1) supporting the election of a female Bishop in 2016 and 2) endorsing the candidacy of layperson John Thomas III as Editor of The Christian Recorder. Both these recommendations were approved by the assembly with an additional endorsement for the reelection of Judge Patricia Mayberry (5th) to the Judicial Council.
The evening activity was the “Jesse L. Burns Black Tie Benefit”. Every two years, the Lay Organization hosts an affair to raise funds for an AME institution of higher education. The 2015 honoree was Edward Waters College of Jacksonville, Florida. The Master and Mistress of Ceremonies for the affair were Michael Cousin, Jr. (4th District) and Dr. Dorothy Henderson (12th). Throughout the program, entertainment was provided by the Seabreeze Band and H&C Productions. President Nathaniel Glover received the $50,000 donation on behalf of the college and recounted the progress made during his tenure.
August 5th started with an added business session to get the progression of business back on track. A significant outcome was the raising of the Lay Young Adult age to 35 and a bill submitted to the General Conference to do the same for the Connectional Church. The Young Adult Hour of Power coordinated by CLO YAR Dr. Felecia Commodore was a welcome spiritual uplift in the middle of the day. The Rev. Derrick Scott of St. Paul AME—Irmo, South Carolina delivered an insightful message on navigating through temptation. In the afternoon, attention turned to the General Conference Candidates Forum. Over thirty-five candidates aspiring to serve the Connectional Church on the Judicial Council, as a General Officer, or in the Episcopacy participated in a panel coordinated by the CLO V-Alert team.
In the evening, the capstone event was the Awards Banquet with the address by the Rev. Cornel Williams Brooks, Esq., President/CEO of the NAACP. Throughout the evening, members from the African delegation shared their vocal talents with the Connectional church. The Biennial Scholarships were presented and the recipients of the Outstanding Layperson Award were announced: Adult—Patricia Mayberry (5th); Ted Harris Young Adult—Melinda Robinson (13th).
The final day of the biennial was packed with Business as the assembly attempted to tie up all loose ends. At the times the debate was tense, but overall the assembly retained its Christian character. While the Constitution and Bylaws and Budget were completed, the complete General Conference 2016 legislative packet was not reviewed and the balance of the legislation will be evaluated at the CLO Fall Executive Board Meeting. The 3rd Episcopal District gave a welcoming video for the 2017 Biennial which will be held in Columbus, Ohio—home of the CLO President Willie C. Glover. As the Biennial closed, Dr. Glover encouraged the body to cherish the memory and participation in the organization as another time of fellowship is never promised. Upon formally adjourning with the Lay Benediction, the Biennial attendees shared a final fellowship meal.
The author acknowledges with appreciation the assistance of CLO Director of Public Relations Walter Jeffers and his staff in the compilation of this report.
7. ANNOUNCING A CONGREGATION-BASED CLINICAL PASTORAL EDUCATION PROGRAM:
A new parish-based Connectional Clinical Pastoral Education Program has been created to provide an educational experience for ministers and laypersons of all denominations to enhance their professional pastoral skills and personal development but are unable to be in a traditional CPE program due to time or other restrictions. It also enables probationary ministers in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME) (In the future willing to accept AME applicants) to meet the requirement of one unit of CPE for full connection clergy membership. This unique program brings ministers from across the country together and in small groups for interactive, reflective learning using their own community and place of ministry as the context.
The focus of this CPE program is on ministry in the congregation. Participants must have an approved place of ministry in order to complete the requirement of 35 hours of ministry per month for the nine months of the program. The recommendation of a presiding bishop or supervising pastor is required as well. In addition to the ministry hours, attendance at two intensive weeks at your own expense is required and an additional four hours per month of classroom time is required. These sessions will be arranged to be held in a central location or via the internet and/or conference call.
Participants must pay an application fee and the required tuition for the course as well as be present at ALL sessions during the months they are enrolled in CPE. There will be written assignments, readings and some internet based assignments. The program operates under the auspices of the National Institute for Human Development, Inc. (NIHD), a faith-based organization that works in collaboration with the Fifth Episcopal District of the CME Church. The faculty will be comprised of certified CPE Supervisors and certified professional chaplains.
Groups begin in the fall and spring. Intensive weeks are in typically in late September and mid-January.
Applications are typically due 45 days before the start of the program. Current tuition is $500 (subject to change), which includes $50 application fee, $100 deposit once accepted into the program and a balance of $350 payable before the program begins. There is currently no scholarship program.
For more information, send an email.
Released by Bishop Teresa Snorton, NIHD CPE Program Coordinator, email to email@example.com
TCR Editor's Note: Bishop Snorton says AMEs are welcome to participate in the program and if enough interest is shown, she is willing to initiate other cohort groups. Certified CPE Supervisors are encouraged to make contact with her.
8. LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL:
Please join in solidarity on Sunday, September 6th as we worship worldwide recognizing: “Confession, Repentance and Commitment to End Racism Sunday”
Racism will not end with the passage of legislation alone; it will also require a change of heart and thinking. This is an effort which the faith community must lead, and be the conscience of the nation. We will call upon every church, temple, mosque and faith communion to make their worship service on this Sunday a time to confess and repent for the sin and evil of racism, this includes ignoring, tolerating and accepting racism and to make a commitment to end racism by the example of our lives and actions.
• Every faith leader is asked to preach about racism and our responsibility as people of faith to end racism.
• Bishop Adam J. Richardson has prepared a powerful and moving litany for this Sunday, which we will get out and widely distribute soon.
• “The Male Investment Plan”, a toolkit developed by Rev. Staccato Powell will be available as a guide. It is designed to effectively position African American males ages 5-25 through a rigorous and dedicated Saturday Academy mentoring program with tools to equip them academically, while also teaching them civil responsibility and spiritual enlightenment. The Male Investment Plan is a ready made tool to be implemented in churches and organizations everywhere. The only requirement is committed leadership of implementation through to successful effectiveness
• Send a report of your Sunday’s engagement to: JDupontW@aol.com. (Photos and personal stories are encouraged.)
Historically, the Black church has been the conscience of the nation; and we shrink not from that conscience stirring role for the nation once again.
This is a joint effort spearheaded by the AME, AME Zion, and CME Churches. Joining in partnership are the United Methodist and UAME Churches, the National Council of Churches (and representatives from communions which comprise the NCC), and the Conference of National Black Churches.
Please be in prayer as we begin this effort, asking God to guide and empower us for this effort.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, chair – Social Action Commission or Sister Jackie DuPont Walker, Connectional Director of Social Action.
You are invited to gather for:
Liberty and Justice for All –
We are called for such a time as this, to stand talk and speak about and confront the evils of racism that are played out in every area of American life - in the criminal justice system, economy, education, and government. Mark your calendar and plan to be present and accounted for!
Official Headquarters Hotel:
Westin Washington City Center
1400 M Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
Rate: $139.00 per night
Code: Black Methodist Coalition (Effective Wednesday, August 19, 2015)
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Worship Services – 7:00 PM
John Wesley AME Zion Church
1515 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
Telephone: (202) 667-3824
Parking: Complimentary Valet
(Hosted by the AME Zion Churches)
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Press Conference – 10:00 – 11:15 a.m.
National Press Club
529 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20045
Telephone: (202) 662-7500
- Hosted by the AME, AMEZ, and CME Churches. Supporters are the United Methodist and UAME Churches, the National Council of Churches (and representatives from communions which comprise the NCC), and the Conference of National Black Churches.
(Tentative) Forum & Briefing – Now To Action! 1:00 – 3:00 PM
The White House – Eisenhower House Office Building
Focus will be on the role of race in -
- Criminal Justice Reform
- Economic Justice
- Gun Reform
- Voting Rights
“The Male Investment Plan”, a toolkit developed at The Great Gathering will be discussed and distributed. It is designed to effectively position African American males ages 5-25 through a rigorous and dedicated Saturday Academy mentoring program with tools to equip them academically, while also teaching them civil responsibility and spiritual enlightenment. “The Male Investment Plan” is a ready made tool to be implemented in churches and organizations everywhere. The only requirement is committed leadership of implementation through to successful effectiveness
Sunday, September 6, 2015
Worship to be celebrated in local congregations and communities worldwide:
Special Focus: “Confession, Repentance and Commitment to End Racism Sunday”
Racism will not end with the passage of legislation alone; it will also require a change of heart and thinking. This is an effort which the faith community must lead, and be the conscience of the nation. We will call upon every church, temple, mosque and faith communion to make their worship service on this Sunday a time to confess and repent for the sin and evil of racism, this includes ignoring, tolerating and accepting racism and to make a commitment to end racism by the example of our lives and actions. Every faith leader is asked to preach about racism and our responsibility as people of faith to end racism.
Worship Tools will be available including:
• A powerful and moving litany by Bishop Adam J. Richardson
• Toolkit Rollout – “The Male Investment Plan”
Please be in prayer as we begin this effort, asking God to guide and empower us for such a time as this! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact either:
-- Jacquelyn “Jackie” Dupont-Walker: Telephone: (213) 494-9493; email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
-- Terry Spicer: Telephone: (919) 830-9049; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Aundreia Alexander: Telephone: (202) 481-6928; email: email@example.com
Let us know that you will participate with an RSVP. Check all that apply:
__ Worship, September 1. 2015
__ Press Conference, September 2, 2015
__ White House Forum and Briefing (Participants will be required to provide personal information for entry)
For additional information got to http://www.ame-sac.org/
Social Action Commission - African Methodist Episcopal Church, Chair – Bishop Reginald T. Jackson – Email: Reginald.Jackson132@verizon.net; email; Telephone: (201)341-9865; SAC Officer - Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker: Email: JDupontW@aol.com; Telephone: (213) 494-9493; Website: http://www.ame-sac.org/ or http://www.ame-church.com/
9. LOCAL PITTSBURGH, PA ORGANIZATION AND BETHEL AME CHURCH TO TAKE A LEADERSHIP ROLE IN BICENTENNIAL CELEBRATION:
A local Pittsburgh organization called Stop the Violence-Pittsburgh addresses killings and serious violence among teens and youth in the African-American communities and provide services to family members of the victims of violence crime. The organization brings together local groups and organizations to address these issues and provide a universal platform to illustrate to the communities the high-supportive services that are available inside Allegheny County
The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Bicentennial will be celebrated in 2016 and the Mayor of Pittsburgh wants to incorporate the Stop the Violence-Pittsburgh Community Awareness Day/Juneteenth Festival as part of the historical framework for the 200th anniversary. In light of the request, the Stop the Violence-Pittsburgh plan to host a Juneteenth: Martin Delany Festival (June 17 - 19, 2016) highlighting the contributions of African-American Abolitionist and Pioneers who helped found and establish the City of Pittsburgh.
One Program will be a re-enactment of the Pittsburgh "Jubilee of Freedom Parade.” The Original Parade was held on April 26, 1870, by the Rev. Lewis Woodson and other Leaders of Bethel AME Church. This event was the first parade ever held by free blacks and abolitionist in the United States. The Parade was based on the Pennsylvania Legislature ratifying the 13th, 14th & 15th Amendments to the U. S. Constitution (particularly the Right to Vote).
In support of this effort Samuel W. Black, Director of African-American Programs for the Heinz History Center is the re-enactment historian and is helping with this process. Director Black is inviting Byron and Granville Woodson, descendants of Lewis Woodson and Granville T. Woodson who was part of the march in 1870, to partake in the ceremonies.
The Rev. Stephen Jackson, pastor of Bethel AME Church in Pittsburgh is the lead for the National Congregations and has already invited area pastors and congregations and the Third Episcopal District Bishop, the Right Rev. McKinley Young for appearance and will be making a general request for all National Church Congregations to attend.
The current programs for the Juneteenth Festival will include:
- Black Tie Bicentennial Dinner on Friday June 17, 2016
- Re-Enactment of “Jubilee of Freedom Parade” on Saturday June 18, 2016 (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and then Outdoors Community Awareness Day Celebration (2 p.m. to 8 p.m.);
- A free tour of the Heinz History Exhibit “From Slavery to Freedom” by Director Black on June 18th (free for Church Pastor and First Lady ONLY, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.); and
- Bicentennial First Church Service/Celebration (a Celebration of Bethel AME, est. 1808) and outdoors Juneteenth Festival (2 p.m. to 8 p.m.).
Based on the historical nature of the event, the 2016 Presidential election year and the parade's voting rights issue, the National Offices of the NAACP, Urban League, 100 Black Men, National Council of Negro Women, National Action Network, other Church Congregations, National Fraternities and Sororities, Rainbow/Push Coalition, National Alliance of Black School Teachers, National Black Caucus, Pa. Legislative Black Caucus, HBCUs have been contacted. The White House has also been contacted requesting the attendance of President and Michelle Obama. This event will be covered by national and local media.
*William Marshall is the founder and CEO of a local Pittsburgh organization called Stop the Violence-Pittsburg
10. GOING TO THE CHAPEL:
*The Rev. Dr. Salethia Honors
Houston, Texas – Married couples at Brown Chapel AME Church in Houston, Texas said, “I Do” again during a special renewal of wedding vows ceremony that took place during morning worship. The wedding was complete with decorations, flower girls, the wedding march and an after-service reception.
The June brides beamed as they came down the aisle again carrying a bouquet of white flowers to meet their smiling grooms. Couples who participated in the renewal of vows ceremony had been married from six all the way to 40 years. The Reverend Dr. Salatheia Honors, pastor of Brown, and her husband the Reverend Reginald Honors also participated in the renewal service. They have been married for 25 years. Pastor Honors said the renewal service was designed to celebrate marriage and to support couples in their efforts to remain committed to their mates.
“We wanted to show visually that love isn’t dead and the ideal of marriage isn’t old-fashion. We felt that it was important to have the congregation and the friends and family of the couples to witness their recommitment to the journey,” said Pastor Honors. “It was a beautiful ceremony.”
A local clergy couple performed the renewal vows and delivered a joint sermon to encourage faithful commitment.
Pastor Honors and the Reverend Reginald Honors were honored to have a young couple whom they married at another pastoral charge participate in the service. A visiting couple to the service that day also decided to take part in the renewal ceremony.
Brown members Shirley and David Hogan were one of the couples who renewed their vows. They have been married for 28 years. Shirley Hogan said the first time they wed was at the courthouse, so the ceremony in the church was meaningful to them. Hogan said the ceremony reminded her of the blessing that she has in her husband.
“As the years go on, through children and grandchildren you learn to appreciate each other more and more. You learn to lean on each other. I can see the goodness he does for me and others,” she said. “It (the renewal service) meant so much to us. It was awesome to be able to come to God house to renew those vows we took at the courthouse. It was so special to have God’s blessing upon us.”
June was focus on the family month at Brown.
*The Rev. Dr. Salethia Honors is the pastor of Brown Chapel AME Church in Houston, Texas
11. ST. JUDE AME CHURCH, GERMANTOWN MARYLAND ACTIVE IN COMMUNITY OUTREACH:
*Sister Pamela Price
The St. Jude Community Development Corporation (CDC), Inc. of the St. Jude AME Church in Germantown, Maryland is a 501(3) (c) non-profit organization located in Germantown MD held its first annual 2 mile walk-a-thon for Positive Steps for Domestic Violence Prevention on May 23, 2015 at Clarksburg High School, Clarksburg, Maryland.
Bobby Ramos a retired police officer of 25 years and current talk show host of the “Bottom Line Talk Show” in Connecticut was the Walk-A-Thon event Marshal and Master of Ceremonies. We were blessed to have the Rev. Mansfield “Kasey” Kaseman from Montgomery County Executive Interfaith Community Liaison as our keynote speaker.
It was a blessing to all as we were able to present the Wilkens Avenue Women’s shelter of Interfaith Works a check for $4,200.00.
St. Jude Community Development Corporation (CDC), Inc. also has a Community Outreach program assisting Local Youth with Back to School Supplies
The St. Jude Community Development Corporation (CDC), Inc partnering with St. Jude AME Church Missionary Society and Interfaith Works Distribution Center had a Back to School Backpacks drive, July 26, 2015 for needy children. With the support of donors we were able to achieve over 906 different supplies which included back packs, notebooks, pen, and pencils which helps many students have a great start to the 2015 school year!
Our motto is “Bridging Resources for our Communities, Step by Step.” The CDC believes with each step, it can help the community using its resources. Creating a safe and trusting organization where the community will know it can reach out for help. Built on Biblical principles; Psalms 91:2: “I will say to the LORD, 'My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!'” St. Jude CDC mission is to build partnerships with local business and school districts to foster a commitment to help the community.
Board of Directors: Linda J. Thompson, Chairperson; Priscilla Moczo, Secretary; Elton Harrison, Treasurer; and Troy McWilliams, Resident Agent
Board Members: Venattia Vann, Anna Gibson, Linda Ogundipe, Pamela Price, and French Thompson.
*Sister Pamela Price is the St. Jude CDC Community Outreach Events Coordinator
12. EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY IN CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA:
Two employment opportunities are available as (1) President/CEO and Community Intern at the Coastal Community Foundation in Charleston, South Carolina.
Click on link below:
Jobs | Coastal Community Foundation | Coastal Community Foundation empowers individuals, families and organizations to make a
13. THE THIRTEENTH EPISCOPAL DISTRICT 2015 SCHEDULE OF ANNUAL CONFERENCES:
Bishop Jeffrey Nathaniel Leath, Presiding Prelate
Dr. Susan Leath, Episcopal Supervisor
115th Session East Tennessee Annual Conference
17-20 September 2015
Warren Chapel AME Church
501 N Market St
Chattanooga, TN 37405
The Rev. Dr. Pedro K. Basden, Host Pastor
The Rev. Dr. Terence L. Mayes, Sr., Host Presiding Elder
148th Session Kentucky Annual Conference
135th Session West Kentucky
24-27 September 2015
St. Paul AME Church
251 North Upper Street
Lexington, KY 40507
Telephone: (859) 255-7945
ALL events except Sunday Closing:
Saint Luke United Methodist Church
2351 Alumni Drive - Lexington, KY
Annual Conference Co-Hosts:
Saint Matthew AME Church, Midway
Shorter Chapel AME Church, Paris
The Rev. William R.T. Hale, Host Pastor
The Rev. James E. Smith, Host Presiding Elder
The Rev. Dr. William W. Easley, Jr., PE, the Louisville-Paducah District
141st Session West Tennessee Annual Conference
8-11 October 2015
St. Andrew AME Church
867 S. Parkway E
Memphis, TN 38106
The Rev. Dr. Kenneth S. Robinson, Host Pastor
The Rev. Linda F. Thomas-Martin, Host Presiding Elder
148th Session Tennessee Annual Conference
22-25 October 2015
Greater Bethel AME Church
1300 South Street
Nashville, TN 37212
The Rev. W. Antoni Sinkfield, Host Pastor
The Rev. Harold B. Love, Host Presiding Elder
THE 2015 PLANNING MEETING
29-30 October 2015
733 Briley Pkwy
Nashville, TN 37217
Telephone: (866) 986-8089
14. REFLECTIONS ON SANDRA BLAND:
*The Rev. Dr. Anne Henning Byfield
On Monday, July 13th 2015, Sandra Bland, died in another questionable death at the hands of the police. All of the questionable deaths stun, dismay, and hurt; this one does so as well. When I was told that it was felt that she was murdered, without knowing who it is was, I thought domestic violence, drive-by, etc., I later had to process why these were my first thoughts for a woman, (that exploration will be later). When told who she was, the suggestion that she committed suicide was not an option.
The circumstances of her death are clearly unclear for anyone’s imagination and certainly for her family, friends and church members. Sandra was a person who loved life and was funny. The notion that she would have responded in this way is an unacceptable response.
On June 28, 2015, I had the honor of preaching at DuPage AME Church in Naperville, Illinois, under the direction of Dr. James Miller, and Dr. Lana Parks Miller. When I got up to preach and acknowledge my sorority sisters, for the first time I went through the listing of all African American sororities and fraternities. When I announced Sigma Gamma Rho, she stood and waved. At the altar call, Sandra came down and wanted prayer because she was moving to Texas to take a job. She was excited but a little anxious about the big move. Her prayer request was one of great expectation and anticipation at the new job, possibilities, and location. She was concerned that her family would not worry at her relocation so far away, yet was eager to embrace the possibilities. She was alive, hopeful and joyful.
A few weeks later, we hear a familiar story for African Americans that a routine traffic stop resulted in her suicide. This time, the words are not, “I can’t breathe,” but “I can’t feel my arms!” “I can’t hear!”
Within a few hours, she is found dead, the same way so many African Americans have been found. Will the nation mourn with the Bland family the same way we have with others? Will we post HER picture on Facebook and tweet her name? Will we be passive about another African American female’s life or will we demand actions, answers, and fight for justice?
Every death is a continual reminder of the unexpected and how close we come to death. This one certainly is in that category and does not stand-alone. Since Sandra Bland’s death there have been several others including Sam Dubose who was murdered on a routine traffic stop. Bland’s death is a reminder that we cannot be silent or passive in our response. Calling her name is needed but insufficient. There must be continued and concentrated action. There is much more we must do. While I don't have complete answers I have the resolve. The tyranny of these actions and the loss of our young ones on the other spectrum of violence must cease. So the question again, do we individually and collectively have the resolve, energy, fight, spirituality, activism, and the use of whatever power we have to respond.
The answer is yes, absolutely yes, YES. YES. YES. YES. There must be the sound of the roar of angry lions preparing to fight at the continuous loss of life of our cubs whether it is by the insidious assault through questionable police action shootings or in house urban gun violence.
*The Rev. Dr. Anne Henning Byfield
15. THE TRUTH IS THE LIGHT:
The Reverend Dr. Charles R. Watkins, Jr.
Based on Biblical Texts: Daniel 3:16-17: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
Statistics indicate that church membership is at an all time low. The truth of the matter is many churches are struggling to keep the lights on and the doors open. Churches desperate to draw folk have been tempted to resort to all sorts of intriguing changes in preaching, teaching and worship in an attempt to remain relevant and trying to be entertaining. Churches are stressed trying to have an exciting worship experience.
This is not new as Bible history tells us that throughout the centuries folk have been in a God switching, God substituting pattern. Unfortunately this creates a problem as the quest to be exciting has critically crippled folk’s faith in God. History has revealed that in periods of prosperity and power folk have been faithful however in periods of trouble folk seem to have been lost.
God switching, God substituting is not a formally planned action. What I mean is, what the church is about, what the church becomes, what the priorities in ministry are or what the church should be doing is not always arrived at by vote or resolution. God switching or God substituting is rather a growing trend of distrust in God and what appears to be an ever growing reliance upon idols.
All through the Old Testament, we see the Hebrews shifting from god to god. Even though the patriarchs and prophets warned them, they still continued through the centuries doing things their own way. But then after a time of transgressing we find that they spend an equal amount of time repenting. In other words, we find that each time folk realized that they had strayed away God we find them spiritually limping back to God. They came back with a noticeable spiritual limp resulting from their crippling encounters with idol gods.
Interestingly the folk back then did not stop believing in God. We will find that God was just buried under all the other stuff they allowed into their lives. They had switched their worship, had substituted their affection and attention to idols. The time and effort they once spent worshipping the God who had brought them out of bondage was now spent on the worship of the idols that came with prosperity.
I submit that if we would take a look at how some of our churches view God and what is important in the ministries of some of our churches we just might conclude that, just like these folk in our text, the spirit of God is buried beneath beautiful family life centers, towering edifices, and intricate organizational machinery.
Our text is the story, of the King of Babylon who had captured the nation of Israel and stationed troops to occupy his newly acquired territory. Among the captives were three smart young men who seem to have been kept close to the king so the king could keep an eye on them. The king wanted to use the boys to keep the peace among the folk during the period of transition. To that end he gave the men prestigious positions and appointed them over certain areas hoping that he could keep their interest and possibly buy their loyalty.
What the king didn’t understand was that although the Hebrew boys had the expertise to accomplish the work, Babylonian culture did not fit into their faith. The king could see the boys were not fitting into Babylonian society so as a result he didn’t trust them. He was suspicious of them because he felt that though he had authority the boys had power.
The truth of the matter is everywhere you look authority is always at the mercy of power. It is true even in the church. Think about it, the Pastor is assigned authority; however it appears at times that the Pastor’s authority is at the mercy of the folk in the church who think they have the power. It needs to be understood that power used in an ungodly manner might seem to be over ruling authority for a while however, by and by, whatever side God is on will eventually win.
In fact one of the Hebrew boys told Nebuchadnezzar we are not going to follow your orders but we are not afraid. “The God whom we serve is able to deliver us." In other words you have the authority to do with us what you will but the God we serve has the power.
When it came to their survival the boys figured “We do not claim that He will deliver us, but we do contend that He is able to deliver us. We have explored the possibility that He may not choose to deliver us. We are willing to go to the furnace for our faith, and we are prepared to test the validity of our faith in your furnace.” In other words, king we want you to know that our faith has not waivered, our faith is not negotiable. “King, if your furnace is ready, so are we."
This, of course begs the question, who among us has that kind of faith? Are we prepared to die for what we believe in? How many of us when we have a choice of keeping on living high on the hog, would give up the money? How many of us would give up the position and the comfort and go to the fiery furnace?
The faith that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had says a lot about who they were and even more about whose they were. It revealed the character of their faith. They did not doubt the omnipotence of God. They did not doubt who God was or what He was able to do. They were committed to God as the Creator and as sustainer of the universe. They were committed to the notion, “not my will but God’s will be done.” Their will was lost in God’s divine purpose.
The faith of these three men would be a testimony to the power of the Living God. God's people don’t have to bow down to unholy systems or give in to unholy rulers to live. God’s people don’t have to give in to dishonesty or put up with lies. God’s people don’t have to sell out to fit in or live like heathens to be happy. God’s people are in the world but don’t have to be of the world. God’s people can live in the world but don’t have to give in doing the ungodly things folk in the world do.
The point I am trying to make is simply, if God ain’t happy with it we ain’t happy with it! We have to be prepared to take a bold stand against what we know is not right. We have to be ready to sometimes even be defiant and stand up against what we know God will not be pleased with. We have to be ready to stand up even when folk talk about us or turn their backs on us. We have to be ready to stand up even if it’s not safe or popular.
We need a faith that stands up against the corrupt systems of our world. A faith that can withstand the heat of rejection. We need a faith that is inspired by God's righteousness and encouraged by God's voice. We need a faith that is sufficient enough to assure us, genuine enough to enrich us and passionate enough to strengthen us. We need a furnace kind of faith.
*The Reverend Dr. Charles R. Watkins, Jr., is the pastor of Morris Brown AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina
16. GETTING TO ZERO: TIME TO PICK A FIGHT:
*The Rev. Oveta Fuller. Ph.D
I heard an amazing sermon this week, “Church, It’s Time to Pick a Fight” from 1 Sam 17:26. It was delivered by the Rev. Douglas Banks at the Opening Hour of Power Worship Service at our annual conference. The Michigan Annual Conference is occurring at St. Paul AME Church in Detroit, Michigan where the Rev. Andre Spivey is the pastor. It was a great way to kick off worship on a high note for the last Michigan Annual Conference for Bishop John and Supervisor the Rev. Dr. Cecelia Williams Bryant. The sermon spoke to the global engagement and “yes we can spirit” of their leadership in the Fourth Episcopal District. The sermon challenged assembled ministers and laypersons.
The Rev. Banks, pastor of Mt. Zion AME Church in Battle Creek, Michigan, explained how David, then a mere lad, the runt of his family, ventured onto the battle scene while taking food to his brothers who were soldiers with King Saul’s army. In the scene, a young David found the giant Philistine, Goliath, taunting the army of Israel and was dismayed that no one was doing anything about it. The challenge had been issued, but no Israelite came forward to fight the giant.
David could not believe it- that anyone would allow a big, even a nine-feet big, warrior man to taunt the people of the true and living God. Insulting the God that David knew did not sit well with the young man. Why was this allowed? In righteous indignation, he asked, “who is this man and what was the reward that King Saul was offering for anyone who killed Goliath.”
You know how the story goes, or can read it in 1 Samuel 17. When David was given permission by King Saul to face off with Goliath, he took no armor and only the five smooth stones and a sling shot. The necessary requirement is that David had the courage, wisdom and faith to say to Goliath, “You come to me with sword, spear and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord.” He was armed with the ultimate weapon.
The Rev. Banks explained David’s outrage as: (1) that someone, anyone- would defile the true and living God, the God of Israel, and (2) that no one seemed able or willing to do something about it. David had developed a strong up-close relationship with that true and living God in the days and nights when he was all alone in the fields and pastures with only the sheep and an occasional bear or lion for company. David knew what this, his God, could do, had done and would do again.
There was no need to run or cower in fear. There was no need for heavy armor like that King Saul offered him. Young David used what he had, what he was familiar with in a sling shot and stones. David had probably shot a few rabbits with that sling shot and stones and cooked them for his supper when out in the sheep fields. David tells King Saul that he was not afraid. God was with him when a bear came against his father’s sheep for which he was responsible. God was with him when a lion attacked. With the strength and power that comes with obedience and an up-close relationship with the only wise omnipotent, omnipresent God- our Father, David prevailed whenever he went against the foe “in the name of the Lord”. So concerning the giant Philistine warrior champion, the young Israelite knew that God was with him. If God is with us, then who or what can be against us?
The Rev. Banks titled the sermon “Church, It’s Time to Pick a Fight”. I don’t think that David picked a fight or exactly went looking for a fight. But certainly he did not cower and run away from a fight even with Goliath, the one who was indeed picking a fight.
There are many symbols in this story. Goliath was a giant man and David but a young ruddy lad. This is a physical description of the two who met in battle. Pastor Banks explained that every day we are in spiritual warfare- our enemies are not merely objects in the flesh. Ephesians 6:12 explains, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age; against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
It was a great sermon, not just in emotion and stand up “Amens”, but in substance to apply to daily life. The lesson applies in the health and wellness setting of “Getting to Zero.” It applies to ending HIV/AIDS, controlling influenza and reducing heart disease and cancer and diabetes and Alzheimers.
What am I saying? The message resonates for individuals, congregations and the AME Church. As one body of believers in the true and living God, we can help prevent so much disease and disability. We can do so just by facing the Goliaths that taunt us with over-eating, over-drinking, too much salt, not enough water, high fat and cholesterol foods and the very real fear of confronting health issues.
Most people in the USA can get vaccines that will protect against a multitude of infectious diseases. Most people can get an HIV test, blood pressure tests, or the appropriate Pap smear, a mammogram or prostate screening exam. Now most people have some access to medical care that includes prevention screening. But, often we are afraid of the results, don’t like the procedure, or don’t make them a priority. Especially if something seems to be wrong, we are reluctant to get it checked out. There is an understandable human nature fear that something might really be wrong. Like the Israeli soldiers, we can be taunted by fear and doubt.
Will we allow diseases that could be prevented to taunt us and ultimately take out many of our people? Or, will we respond to the challenge to become proactive and highly engaged in our own health and wellness and that of our sisters and brothers in and outside of the body of Christ?
Pastor Banks invited those listening to remember the spirit of Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, Sarah Allen and the first AMEs. They fought whatever was before them- racism, disease, slavery, sexism, ignorance, legalized injustices. Who are these things to come against us, the sons and daughters of the true and living God? Do they know how big our omnipotent God is?
For the upcoming 2016 General Conference, I would love to see legislation proposed, passed and widely adopted to require every church to provide some active type of health ministry or an action plan/service for its members in a whatever way best meets a need of that congregation or community. Further, a report on this ministry or service would be required of the pastor and steward board on the Annual Conference report form similar to reporting the number of marriages or responding to the inquiry “Do you have an organized Lay in your congregation.”
People do not have to lose limbs or eyesight, die too young, or spend an isolated or less than full and active life because of many diseases (or violence) that can be prevented. Many diseases that wreak havoc in the black community can be better controlled by available vaccines, more balanced food intake, limiting fats and sweets, consuming plenty of water and regular medical screening care.
As I move into a new decade of my life and the physical body gets older (it does not so easily follow the perspective still in my mind), I am more aware of the need to pay attention to overall health- even the little things for care of me. I am grateful for the message sent through Pastor Banks. I am empowered by this timely Word to more effectively confront the giants that arise in my life including challenges to maintaining mental, physical and spiritual wellness.
*The Rev. Oveta Fuller Caldwell, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Michigan (U-M) Medical School, Associate Director of the U-M African Studies Center and an AMEC itinerant elder and former pastor. She lived in Zambia for most of 2013 to study HIV/AIDS prevention among networks of religious leaders.
17. iCHURCH SCHOOL LESSON BRIEF FOR SUNDAY, AUGUST 23, 2015 - A DEMAND FOR JUSTICE - ZECHARIAH 7:8-14:
*Brother Bill Dickens
The Christian community is coping with yet another incidence of injustice directed at houses of worship. On Sunday, August 2, 2015 two church bombings occurred in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The first bomb explosion occurred at Calvary Baptist Church and the second at Holy Cross Catholic Church. Both bombs were detonated outside the sanctuary while parishioners were worshipping inside. Church bombings are acts of clear injustice. In contrast, justice is an inalienable right that all people should enjoy. Justice is not a commodity to be allocated through the free market system based on supply and demand. Justice or the process of doing what is morally, ethically and economically right for the betterment of the whole, defines the collective integrity of society. Throughout the history of civilization we find many instances where justice is denied to many people. The denial of justice is a stable predictor for societal unrest, civil disobedience and sadly civil war. The AME Adult Church School Lesson for August 23, 2015 examines the context of justice among post-exilic Jews during the prophetic tenure of Zechariah. Many of Zechariah’s contemporaries mistakenly believed to “do the right thing” consisted of ceremonial fasts as a form of atonement for their neglect in incorporating God’s law in their lives. Zechariah provides a critical rejoinder to this form of spiritual appeasement to the truth. Let’s see how the prophet accomplishes this task.
Zechariah is a contemporary of the prophet Haggai. His ministry addresses the central concerns of a remnant of Jews who have left Babylonian captivity and are commissioned to help rebuild the great Temple of Jerusalem (destroyed by Babylonian conquest). In Chapter 7:1-7 the prophet describes the demeanor of the post-exilic Jews as desiring to keep the law of God by continuing in pious practices like fasting. For these Jews they presumed this was sufficient. Zechariah however thought differently. The prophet of God instructed them that true justice is defined in how you treat the widows, the fatherless and the poor not ceremonial devotion to practices like fasting. By showing mercy and justice to the economically disenfranchised the true meaning of Godly love is realized. Jesus ratified this concept of justice in his great parable of the Final Judgment (St. Matthew 25: 31-46) where he commended those who extended kindness and compassion to their fellow brethren and chastised those who did not show justice and mercy. The people however rejected Zechariah’s message. They turned a deaf ear and yielded to a spirit of stubbornness and defiant behavior towards the needy. Their callous actions however did not go by unnoticed by God. The Lord affirms to Zechariah that the stiff-necked resistance members refused to listen when His message was being provided. The people did not want to hear God (they covered their ears) so God in turn will not listen to them when they seek Him for protection and blessings. Their selfish actions produced a set of unintended consequences that they can only blame themselves.
I am participating in the 124th Session of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference as I write this lesson summary. The Annual Conference in the AME Church provides an opportunity for members to look back on what we have accomplished and look forward to reaching higher goals in the next conference year. Planning for the future requires working together as a team (clergy and lay) and ensuring that we will be directed by the common goal of Keeping God first and exhibiting fairness and justice to all. Treating everybody fairly fulfills the royal commandment of loving our neighbor unconditionally. Fairness or justice is a right so the absence of justice means we should demand not request this important attribute. Zechariah did not mince his words in critiquing the superficial display of justice exhibited by some of his Jewish colleagues. If we believe “all people matter” it is important we should not kowtow to a socio-theological model that devalues the poor and make a mockery of God’s concept of justice. QED
*Brother Bill Dickens is currently the Church School Teacher at Allen AME Church in Tacoma, Washington. He is currently a member of the Fellowship of Church Educators for the African Methodist Episcopal Church
18. MEDITATION BASED ON JOHN 5:1-8:
*The Rev. Dr. Joseph A. Darby
I recently chatted with an old friend from my college years who expressed some strong opinions about the “Black Lives Matter” movement - the organized youth-led response to the many recent high profile cases of police mistreatment and murder of African-Americans. My friend labeled those involved in the movement as too loud and rowdy, too confrontational and too likely to turn people off, and said that they ought to calm down, back off and let older and cooler heads prevail, lead them and set the agenda.
I heard him out, and I then kindly expressed my amazement and amusement at his opinion. I reminded him that forty years ago - before he became a prosperous and successful businessman - he had the biggest Afro hairdo on campus, always wore a dashiki and a black power fist on a chain around his neck, had the Black Liberation Flag and pictures of Huey Newton, Angela Davis and Stokely Carmichael hanging in his dorm room, and was a vocal participant in every campus protest!
I’m glad to say that my friend then laughed at the reminder and said, “I hear you and I guess I ought to lighten up on those young folks - they’re really just doing what I did back in the day.”
My friends “amnesia” is understandable because if we’re honest about it, all of us have a touch of the same spiritual condition. It’s very easy - with the passage of time and the attainment of success and well-being - for us to forget what we used to be and used to do, what we used to think and how we used to act; to forget our old ways and old struggles and to become judgmental paragons of pious virtue.
Maybe that’s why when Jesus healed a man who hadn’t walked in thirty-eight years, He didn’t just tell the man to get up and walk. He also told him to take the soiled, ragged beggar’s mat that he’d laid on for thirty-eight miserable years with him - possibly as a reminder of the days when he was down and of who lifted him up.
When we take the same advice from Jesus and remember how far God has brought us, then we’ll be more appreciative of our present blessings; more patient with those who are traveling the rough paths we’ve already walked and more willing to share our story with those who need a little Good News.
Take the time, in the midst of your best days, to remember how God brought you through your most difficult days. You can then face life with a new and joyfully appreciative attitude, help others to grow and flourish, and live out the words of the hymn that says, “From sinking sand He lifted me, with tender hand He lifted me; from shades of night to plains of light, oh praise His Name, He lifted me!”
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
19. GENERAL OFFICER CONGRATULATORY ANNOUNCEMENT:
-- Announcing the Marriage of Yolanda Aisha Bruce, Esq. daughter of Mrs. Gloria Sykes Bruce and the late Dr. Y. Benjamin Bruce, Sr.
My family and dear friends join me in the excitement of much anticipation, preparation and the joy of thanksgiving, to announce the wedding ceremony of Yolanda Aisha Bruce, Esq. and Johnny Lewis Nash, Jr. on Friday, September 4, 2015 at the Wedding Chapel of Winter Park, Fl and Wedding Reception to follow at the University Club of Winter Park, FL.
Ms. Bruce serves as Attorney/Adviser for the Social Security Administration and Mr. Nash is Principal, Lindale Middle School, Anne Arundel County (Maryland) Public Schools. The couple will reside in Owings Mills, MD. Yolanda is the only and youngest daughter of Mrs. Gloria Sykes Bruce and the late Dr. Y. Benjamin Bruce, Sr., who faithfully served the Connectional Church of Allen as Director, Department of Worship and Evangelism, 1985-1992 and Presiding Elder, "Nurturing" North Orlando District of the Central Conference of the Eleventh Episcopal District, 2000-2006.
Congratulatory responses can be emailed to: Mrs. Gloria Sykes Bruce, firstname.lastname@example.org
20. CLERGY FAMILY BEREAVEMENT NOTICE:
We are saddened by the passing of Mrs. Ruth H. Johnson, mother of the Rev. Roxanne Parson, pastor of Davis Memorial AME Church. The arrangements for Mrs. Ruth H. Johnson are listed below. Please continue to keep the family lifted up in prayer.
Celebration of Life for Ruth H. Johnson, Mother of Rev. Roxanne Parson, Pastor Davis:
Memorial AME Church, Baltimore, MD
Public Viewing – Sunday, August 23, 2015
2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Vaughn C. Greene Funeral Home
5151 Baltimore National Pike
Baltimore, MD 21229
Telephone: (410) 233-2400
Wake – Monday, August 24, 2015
10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Funeral – Monday, August 24, 2015
New Psalmist Baptist Church
6020 Marian Drive
Baltimore, MD 21215
Telephone: (410) 945-3000
Interment – Crownsville Veterans Cemetery
Acts of kindness can be mailed to the Rev. Roxanne and the Rev. Andre Parson at:
2836 Deerfield Drive
Ellicott City, MD 21043
The Rev. Roxanne's email address is: email@example.com
21. CLERGY FAMILY BEREAVEMENT NOTICE:
Please keep the Rev. Perneice Geter, pastor of Union Bethel AME Church in Denton Maryland in your prayers on the sudden death of her sister, Doretha Gilliam. The Rev. Gilliam served at Bethel AME Church in Baltimore, Maryland.
The funeral arrangements are as follows:
August 29, 2015
Bethel A. M. E. Church
1300 Druid Hill Avenue
Baltimore, MD. 21217
9:30 a.m. - Family hour
10:00 a.m. - Delta Service
10:30 a.m. - Funeral Service
The Rev. Pearl Geter
2016 Brunt Street
Baltimore, MD 21217
22. CLERGY FAMILY BEREAVEMENT NOTICE:
We regret to inform you of the passing of James Arthur Horton, the brother of the Reverend Charles L. Horton of the West Tennessee Conference, 13th Episcopal District. James A. Horton fought a good fight. He is now at peace and rest with no more pain.
Services for James Arthur Horton are as follows:
Friday, August 21, 2015- 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Superior Funeral Home
1129 N. Hollywood Street
Memphis, TN 38108
Saturday, August 22, 2015 - 12:00 Noon
Superior Funeral Homes
Address: 1129 N. Hollywood Street
Memphis, TN 38108
Telephone: 901-323-7890 (901) 320-5783
Expressions of Sympathy may be sent to:
The Rev. Charles L. Horton
8870 Chimney Rock Blvd
Cordova, TN 38109
Telephone: (901) 752-0206
Fax number: (901) 752-0206
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
23. BEREAVEMENT NOTICES AND CONGRATULATORY ANNOUNCEMENTS PROVIDED BY:
Ora L. Easley, Administrator
AMEC Clergy Family Information Center
Web page: http://www.amecfic.org/
Telephone: (615) 837-9736 (H)
Telephone: (615) 833-6936 (O)
Cell: (615) 403-7751
24. 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, 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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