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“Official Publication of the First Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church”

PHILADELPHIA CONFERENCE LAY ORGANIZATION EDUCATION WORSHIP SERVICE TO BENEFIT THE CHERYL HAMMOND HOPEWELL LAY SCHOLARSHIP FUND Our Worship Leader for the service was Brother Walter C. Jeffers, the Editor of the First District Flame and the Philadelphia Conference Lay Organization Young Adult RepresentaOn Saturday, January 15, 2011 tive. at 3:00 pm, the Philadelphia Conference Lay Organization Our musician was Brother held an Education Worship Richard Norris II. We sang the Service to benefit the Cheryl Hammond Hopewell Lay Schol- Laymen’s Hymn and Invocation was given by Brother Ed Lovearship Fund. lace from Bethel, Bristol. Scripture was read by Rev. Trevor The service was held at the Woolridge, the pastor of Bethel, mother seat of African Metho- Lansdowne and the Statement dism, Mother Bethel AME of Purpose was given by Sister Church. It was a wonderful ser- Marian Spivey Sudler, the Eduvice with participation from lay cation Committee Chairperson and clergy and from various for the Philadelphia Conference components of the AME Lay Organization. Church. Submitted by Anita Hanna Matthews Director of Public Relations Philadelphia Conference Lay Organization

sence and Bishop Leath, our preacher.

Acknowledgement of Visitors was given by Sister E. Catherine Shepard of Metropolitan in Lansdowne and Remarks Rev. Broadnax was called on were given by Sister Marian to lead our sermonic selection, Spivey Sudler, Sister Cheryl “O Thou in Whose Presence” Hammond Hopewell, Philadeland the Sermon was given by phia Conference Lay President, Bishop Leath. Bishop Leath Presiding Elder Vernard Leak preached from the subject, of the Philadelphia District and “Grace and Order”. He took his Presiding Elder Charles H. Lett, text from Mark 3:5. Sr. of the West/Mainline District. After Bishop Leath gave the Invitation to Christian Discipleship, he as bishops do, led in the offering. The offering was $25 and Bishop Leath announced that Bishop Norris had sent a check for $50 to cover the offering for him and Mother Norris.

Bishop Leath gave a few closing remarks and Host Pastor, Rev. Dr. Mark K. Tyler gave a Closing Prayer. We then ended with the Lay Benediction.

It was truly a wonderful service and we thank God for the EduRev. Jay B. Broadnax, pastor cation Committee led by Sister Those assisting in the offering Our Presiding Prelate of the of Mt. Pisgah, Philadelphia Marian for putting the service were Rev. Stephen Lewis, pasFirst Episcopal District, Bishop sang, “Sovereign”. The Lay Littogether, for the worship partor of Jones Tabernacle, Rev. Richard Franklin Norris was any was led by Sister Kanisha ticipants who all served so well, supposed to be the preacher, Chatman of Mother Bethe and Glenn Shephard, pastor of and to all who attended and Campbell, Frankford, Rev. Clahowever, he was sick and the Sister Jeanne Chavious, the helped us raise funds to assist th rence Martin, pastor of MetroPresiding Prelate of the 19 Philadelphia Conference young people to obtain higher politan in Lansdowne and SisEpiscopal District, Bishop Jef- Church School Superintendent education. To God be the Glory frey N. Leath was the preacher. ended up introducing two bish- ter Fern Wesley, Philadelphia for the great things he has Conference Lay Treasurer. done. ops; Bishop Norris in his ab-



Overcoming the Struggles that Live Within Submitted by Alisha Broughton

The First District Flame, Spring 2011, Page 2 Joint Installation Service: New York Annual Conference Women in Ministry & A.M.E. Ministerial Alliance of New York & Vicinity By Nikia Smith Robert

Each year during Black History Month we hear about the many struggles of African Americans from the present and the past. Slavery has been known to have a negative effect on divesting African Americans of a substantial portion of their own culture. The fact is slavery has been over for years but as African Americans we still are enslaved in our minds. We have a tenacity to blame others for our failures. If we be honest with ourselves we are our own worst enemies. Many young black males are convinced that their lives do not matter. Millions of young black men in America's inner cities die daily. If not properly educated, they are likely to face higher unemployment rates, time in jail and a darkening sense that life for them can only get worse.

November 7, 2010, New York -- Pleasant shades of purple and a presence of praise permeated the historical Harlem pillar at St. Luke A.M.E. Church. On this momentous occasion, the New York Annual Conference Women in Ministry organization convened with the A.M.E. Ministerial Alliance of NY & Vicinity for a joint installation of officers service. As is customary of the St. Luke family, led by Reverend Melvin E. Wilson, a delightful spirit of hospitality poured onto all whom were present. Gathered worshippers gazed upon an ornate sanctuary and a pulpit full of esteemed clergy – including Presiding Elders Henrietta S. Fullard, Alvan N. Johnson and Nicholas Genevieve Tweed who sat alongside the 116th elected and consecrated Bishop of the AME Church: Richard Franklin Norris. Amid the blended shades of purple and a pulse of praise were Women in Ministry’s Connectional President Rev. Kimberly L. Detherage, Esq., Pastor of St. Mark AME Church, Jackson Heights, NY.

African-American men are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as white males, and black males who work in comparable jobs earn only 75 percent of what white men earn. Half of black men in their 20s are now jobless. Black men are nearly seven times more likely to be incarcerated, with average jail sentences about 10 months longer than those of white men. Who do we blame? We blame everyone else for our circumstances. We must continue to push through our trials and tribulations. If our ancestors made it through slavery, why can we not struggle to be successful? It does not matter what others may think or say. We are “powerful beyond measure.” I am proud to say, “I am African American.” Every hardship that I have been through I made it. There is nothing that ,we as Blacks, today can not conquer. It’s encouraging to say we now have our first African American President of the United States. It may be meaningless to others but it is a part of Black History. It’s a history that should never be forgotten by any African American. “Yes, We Can and Yes we Will!” We will be overcomers! We will best the best at all that we do! We were born to be leaders and achievers. We hold ourselves back. We must speak life to our situations and stop feeling sorry for ourselves. We must stop, as the young people say, “Being player haters, and take on a new role and that is to learn to support all people.

Spirits leaped with joy and mouths filled with praise while maintaining an atmosphere of exaltation. The Reverend Kim Anderson, Pastor of Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, Harlem, acted as worship leader. The Reverend Leonard Davis, Pastor of Bethel AME Church, Babylon, NY, led corporate prayer and the Reverend Alicia Bailey, Supply Pastor of St. James/St. Phillip AME Church, read scripture as the psalmist David reminded the church to, “Praise ye the Lord.” Continuing a posture of praise, Bishop Norris delivered a timely Word of proclamation and consecration, entitled: “The Availability of the Spirit: Seeing the Possibilities” (Acts 2:17-18).

Even as a steady economy and welfare reform have lifted many black women and other disadvantaged groups out of the trenches of poverty, there's no such promise for young black men, either nationally and locally says the news. Another sense gotten from any true picture of the society is the isolation of the black man in America. The kind of unity that I want to see among black men would at least produce a huge, Why? We preach nonviolence but how many stick to this terminology. There should be a unity among all people that permits us to live in peace and love one another. We should not have the crabs in the bucket syndrome. We can conquer a nation if only we would work together. When was the last time you told a brother or sister that you, “Loved them and needed them!” Stop tearing each other down and build each other up.

In his message, Bishop Norris illuminated the text by emphasizing three points that were intended to both encourage and challenge these two auxiliaries as they prepared to be installed for active service. First, he emphasized “the latter days,” in which by prophecy the outpouring of the spirit was expected to occur. He made this point to suggest that even in what may seemingly be the latter days of our ministries, all of our experiences work together to prepare us to do a new thing that will maximize our potential as a Church and optimize our opportunities for success. Second, our Bishop emphasized the “outpouring of the Spirit.” He made this point to punctuate the abundance of God’s Spirit that is neither parsimonious nor limited, but pours abundantly into our lives. Lastly, the Bishop emphasized that our “sons and daughters shall prophesy.” Bishop Norris admonished the officers of these two organizations stating that these positions of leadership are “more than holding a title; it’s making a difference,” and in doing so we must understand that prophecy is not speaking absentmindedly, but rather speaking “truth to power” with relevancy and purpose. While the other two points of illumination were perhaps intended to encourage the leaders of the Women in Ministry and the Ministerial Alliance, it was this final point that challenged them and set the expectation for installation. For the moment of installation, Bishop Norris completed his appeal and charged the officers to make a difference in the lives of their respective communities while serving with fidelity and giving thanks to God for the privilege to serve. Moreover, he challenged them to, “Stay on top of what makes a difference in the lives of our people.” This means, the Bishop continued, “To lift up the name of Jesus, get excited about who you are and what God has called you to be.” At the concluding moment of the service, the installed officers of the Women in Ministry and the Ministerial Alliance, which are led by Reverends Erika Crawford, Pastor of Allen Temple AME Church in Mt. Vernon, NY and Melvin E. Wilson respectively, accepted the charge. Thus, by the availability of the Spirit these essential organizations will see the possibilities to engage in transformative service for the uplifting of our great Church and larger community both domestically and abroad.

The National Urban League reported to "The State of Black America: Portrait of the Black Male." The report cited data on incarceration, joblessness and educational attainment among young black males and called the issues they face the The elected officers for the 2010 New York Conference year are as follows: nation's most serious social crisis. Education is now offered to African Americans and now many of us do not take advantage of it. The question is, “Why is that, A.M.E. Ministerial Alliance of New York & Vicinity when our ancestors died so that we may have the right to vote and have adequate President – Reverend Melvin E. Wilson education?” Why are we allowing our children to drop out of school? Our forefa1st Vice President – Reverend Deborah Hicks thers died for us to have justice. So, as African Americans, why are we afraid to 2nd Vice President – Reverend Jo-An Owings take a stand for injustices that pledge our communities on a daily basis? Why are Recording Secretary – Reverend Ozzie Edwards we so afraid of our own youth? Why are we afraid to start the businesses that lie Assistant Recording Secretary – Reverend Karen Horry dominant within us? There is nothing that we can not achieve as a people. We Corresponding Secretary – Reverend Lisa Williams must learn to understand our purpose in life? Until we understand our purpose in Treasurer – Reverend Henry A. Belin, III life, we can not live the dream that Dr. Martin King spoke about. Reporter – Reverend James Booker, Sr. I am a dreamer. I am a believer that I will one day be a mulit-millionaire. Write it on the wall, Broughton, multimillionaire status. I come today to say, “Stop killing the dream, and start living the dream. “Free enterprise means open your pockets.” I plan on making my dream a reality in 2011. There is nothing that can stop us. President Obama is living the dream with scrutiny; however, he continues to live the dream for the American people. Our President is not a quitter but our President of our United States is a true leader. He should be respected as just that a leader. Make your past a reality today. Make your future a brighter day. Think of Harriet Tubman as she walked everyday tireless through the Underground Railroad to save the lives of others. Think about Dr. King Luther King who lost is life so that we may have freedom from all injustices. Think about Ralph Ellison, W.E.B. DuBois, Gwendolyn Brooks and Marcus Garvey who were scrutnized for what they wrote during their times. The next time you complain remember, we have it easy! Could you withstand the abuse of the Civil Rights Era?

Chaplain – Reverend Grace Ayets Parliamentarian – Reverend Joseph Walston New York Annual Conference AME Women In Ministry Officers Coordinator – Reverend Erika D. Crawford Assistant Coordinator – Reverend Ella Brandon Recording Secretary – Exhorter Audra Browne Treasurer – Reverend Linda Hill Herstoriographer – Reverend Deborah Finley Jackson Worship Coordinator – Reverend Eleanor Harris Financial Secretary – Reverend Paulette Adams Jamaica-Long Island Coordinator – Reverend Jacqueline Lynch Manhattan District Coordinator – Reverend Lillian Allen Brooklyn-Westchester Coordinator – Reverend Virginia Sanders

Email: Where Are the Young People Going?

The First District Flame, Spring 2011, Page 3


Why does our Youth continue to leave church, although it is a very hot topic right now across the ecumenical world. But here is what we do know — kids are leaving! This is not news.

Youth church and Young Adult meetings are over. Some of our very few campus ministries or churches offering transportation to students attempt to keep that experience going, but it is a very poor attempt, if one checks out the percentages of our children at these universities and then counts on a Wednesday night how many attend the college-age Bible class, you get the answer. In the book, “Family-Based Youth Ministry,” Mark Devries reminds churches that “there is no such thing as successful youth ministry that isolates teenagers from the community of faith.”. I am not advocating that we toss children and youth ministries from the church. I would strongly suggest that they be used as tools to equip parents to disciple their own children.

Many of our kids leave high school, go off to college and take a break from church. The bad news that researchers point out that, for the first time in their ongoing studies of church life, many of these kids are not returning to the church when they marry and have kids. Why is this happening? What can we do about it? Only God and parents really know how delicate children are. While many teens “commit” their life to Christ, not much happens before or after that for many of our “churched” teens. In sociological studies, a majority of moms and dads report that religion and faith are among the most important influences in their lives. And yet, over and over again, this is Walter C. Jeffers not lived out. The church — and particularly youth workers Editor-In-Chief — get the blame for teens not being spiritual enough to make it on the outside. In the book, “Why Christian Kids Rebel: Trading Heartache for Hope,” Dr. Tim Kimmel writes that some kids see their parents treating faith like a hobby, so they only four minutes of uninterrupted time together a day. We follow suit. We know that children’s perceptions of their par- do not have time for relationships. ents’ religious beliefs — and the accuracy of these percepThat’s what our behavior says to our children. Perhaps we are tions — influence the acceptance of these beliefs. too busy, or we do not feel adequate to be the spiritual leader of our children or our faith is not real for us. And yet, some parents are not dealing with the reality that

Children will look as much like Jesus as their parents and fellow church members do. Kids will follow Jesus through college — and for the rest of their lives — if they have parents that do likewise, and if that they can see older Christians modeling that behavior. Even some secular researchers stress the importance of having a “community of shepherds” around our children. Shouldn’t this be the church? We know that children rely on their parents and other adults around them for support and affirmation, but we don’t make time to sit with our children and tell them about the faith that sustains us.

Parents, bottom line, it is still your job to rear your children and teach them to have faith in God. Ministers, Evangelist and those called to Teach, it is your job to shepherd our souls. It is not to say to stop sending money for missions in foreign they are not doing their God-given duty. They are not living countries but it is time to do our mission work to save souls out Deuteronomy 6:4-9 — “Impress (God’s commandments) when our own children are walking out on God. Rethink Youth and children’s ministries can assist parents in their on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and church and ministry as equipping people to become mature in roles, but they can’t replace those roles. We sometimes build when you walk along the road ...”. Over and over in sociomulti- million dollar buildings and community centers for our Christ. logical research, parents (typically mom first and dad second) children, only to watch them walk away from those buildings are the primary influence in teens’ lives. Youth ministers, The numbers do not lie. We are shrinking as a fellowship. I after graduation. While thinking about “family ministry” is preachers, church and youth groups are down the list, though not new, it is still not the norm in North American churches. do not believe it is because of the economy, the culture, Presithey do have some influence. Churches are basically doing the same thing parents are doing dent Obama, instrumental music or whatever the excuse may be this week. Moms and dads at home, and ministers at our — “dropping off the kids” for the normal youth programs. How can parents fulfill their roles? It actually isn’t that diffichurches, wake up! Let’s repent. Let’s recommit. Let’s walk cult, it just takes time. In the book, “Raising the Bar: Minis- We have put the concept of intergenerational ministry on the and talk and do our faith with our children and those who are try to Youth in the New Millennium,” Alvin Reid reminds us shelf. Sometimes we aren’t even doing “big” church together. watching and will need to lead our church. that only 34 percent of North American families eat one meal Some churches even have separate assemblies for our young together each day. We have to disciple our own children and teach them to make adults. disciples. It is a continuing process. We must not skip — or The average father spends eight minutes per day with his lose — a generation! Is it any wonder that our children have nothing vested in children. (That includes meals and watching TV.) Only 12 church when they walk out as high school seniors? percent of families pray together. The average couple spends

First District Flame Newspaper

Submitting News Items

“Official Publication of the 1st Episcopal District”

First Episcopal District African Methodist Episcopal Church First District Plaza 3801 Market Street Suite 300 Philadelphia, PA 19104 Telephone: 215-662-0506 Fax: 215-662-0989 Email:

Bishop Richard Franklin Norris Presiding Prelate Mother Mary Ann Norris Episcopal Supervisor Walter C. Jeffers Editor-in-Chief Donna-Lee Chandler Associate Editor-in-Chief Circulation: 10,000 Copies

The First District Flame Newspaper, the official QUARTERLY publication of the First Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church welcomes articles that are newsworthy as well as other articles and items of interest for consideration for publication. The deadline for 2011-2012 articles are: July 10, 2011, October 10, 2011, January 10, 2010 and May 10, 2012. Articles should be typed single spaced and limited to one page where possible and emailed in WORD format as an attached file; please send articles via email to Pictures should be emailed using jpeg format and must be sent as an attached file; if you would like to send a hard copy, please mail your articles with a delivery confirmation to: Walter C. Jeffers, c/o The First District FLAME, P.O. Box 42224, Philadelphia, PA 19101. The editor reserves the right to edit all materials received as well as to use editorial discretion regarding the printing of received materials. The editor cannot guarantee the return of photos or discs.


The First District Flame, Spring 2011, Page 4

St. Paul AME Church Rededication Service

Keys to the Kingdom: Bishop Richard Norris receiving the keys to the renovated St. Paul AME Church. From left, are Sisters Thelma Trott, Lanthia Welch and Lois Weeks; Mrs. Doris Corbin, for many years Director of Music at St. Paul and now its oldest member in her 100th year; Usher Laurence Sealey and Vice-Chair Trustees, Edward Dyer; Presiding Elder Rev. Betty L. FurbertWoolridge; Pastor Rev. Dr. Lanel D. Guyton; Bishop Norris; Mother Mary A. Norris; Mrs. Guyton and in the background, Trustee Ted Darrell. (Photo by Tamell Simons) There was a moving replication and dedication of history in Court Street, Hamilton Monday night when St. Paul AME Church took on new majesty as the cathedral of African Methodism in Bermuda. Pastor of the church, the Rev. Dr. Lanel D. Guyton, assembled his congregation in the twilight of the evening and in the shadow of the Alexandrina Hall to replicate the parade from the Hall 125 years ago when St. Paul was first dedicated. The North Village Band, which had not long been in existence then, led the march on that occasion and its doughty descendants under the direction of Bandmaster Major Kenneth Dill did a repeat performance this time around. Joining Dr. Guyton at the head of the parade, and behind a huge banner proclaiming “St. Paul is Built on a Strong Foundation” was Bishop Richard F. Norris, prelate of the 1st Episcopal District. He was accompanied by Presiding Elder of the Bermuda Conference, Rev Mrs. Betty L. Furbert-Woolridge and a host of other dignitaries and St. Paul stalwarts. The banner was held by church trustees As the band playing ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ brought the marchers to the steps leading to St. Paul’s Western Porch Door, chimes from the renovated dramatically flood-lit steeple of the church rang out for the first time. They echoed off the walls of the multi-million-dollar, brand new seven-storey Dame Lois Browne-Evans Government office building (due to be formally opened later this month) and the even newer multi-storied Arthur Hodgson building to the south. And further to the south, historic St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, looking brighter and more beautiful than ever with its glorious history dating back to the year 1843, gave added pulse to what has always been the heart of Court Street, initially predominated by The Recorder Building with its place of pride since 1933. Bishop Norris and his wife came to Bermuda from their First Episcopal District headquarters in Philadelphia especially to officiate at the dedication of the St. Paul’s extensive inside and outside, from top to bottom renovations. And also to preside over the 125th Session of the Bermuda Annual Conference of the AME Church, which has been underway since Thursday at Fairmont Southampton Resort. When Pastor Guyton and his party reached the Western Porch Door of St. Paul, trumpeters from the Bermuda Regiment Band sounded a fanfare as trustees of the church handed Bishop Norris keys to the edifice. Inside he led the congregation in a responsive reading of Psalm 84, while other clergy quoted passages from the Book of Chronicles. There were Dedication Prayers and singing led by St. Paul Senior Choir under Music Minister Cecil Smith. Everything on the inside was bright and beautiful, comfortable, brand new pews, balcony, air-conditioning and audio visual implements neatly placed. Noticeably absent was the church’s big pipe organ. It lay in some 2,000 pieces in the adjoining Heritage Hall, returned from New York where the organ was sent for a major upgrade. It will be installed and dedicated within a month. During his eloquent dedicatory address, Bishop Norris declared God the way maker and provider had done an awesome thing with St. Paul on the corner of Court and Victoria Streets. “I don’t know about you,” the Bishop told the applauding congregation, “I am happy. But guess what, it ain’t over yet!” He highly lauded Pastor Guyton for his inspired leadership, and empathised with him over what must have been his many sleepless nights during the past two years. The Pastor in turn passed the compliments on to the Trustees Building Committee headed by Bro. Edward Dyer. One of the high points of the dedication ceremony was the unveiling of a Board on the inside of the western wall containing the names of 142 ‘door keepers’ or Ushers who had served the church since 1942. It is headed by the president of the first usher board in 1942, Bro. George Frederick Beek. Others who made up that early group of stalwarts were Brothers Thomas Masters, Jonathan James, the father of Dr. the Hon. Clarence James; Arthur Benn and Cyril Butterfield. The presiding Elder at that time was Rev. Owens. It was also with these early Ushers that the idea of Men’s Day was implemented in 1948. Women ushers didn’t come into the picture until much later. The Board was unveiled by Presiding Elder the Rev. Betty Furbert Woolridge. Research for this element of St. Paul’s history was done by historian Joy Wilson Tucker. The history of St. Paul and the AME Church in Bermuda generally was seeded in 1869 when a group of farsighted men set the wheels in motion for it to happen. That was a mere 35 years after the Emancipation of Slavery in 1834 when blacks were freed after centuries of slavery. At that time black Bermudians had absolutely no infrastructure of their own. No shops, churches or schools. They were landless and voteless, and possessed only their indomitable spirits and strong faith in God. They built churches like St. Paul, which became the epicentre of black spiritual, cultural and political life down through the decades.


The First District Flame, Spring 2011, Page 5

A Day of Giving Thanks From Tyree AME Church The members of Tyree A.M.E Church in Philadelphia, PA have sacrifice early Black Friday Shopping for at least 13 years. Sis. Dorothy Odoms started this day to feed people that needed a meal and clothes after Thanksgiving. Sis Odoms was a member of the former Clara Brown missionary society passed away in 1999. But her legacy lives on through the members of her church who did not think it was robbery to come to the church the day after Thanksgiving and cook and serve food to those in need. All the food and clothes are donated by the members and other people that have worked hand in hand with Sis. Odoms over the years she has been in charge of this project. We also celebrated the 90th birthday of our president of the Class Leader, Sis. Lillie Adams. Her family ,friends, past and present pastors, Rev & Mrs. Anthony N. Jones , Rev. Dr. Esther Seales and church family honored her in the Fellowship Hall of Tyree A.M.E Church. Tyree AME Church is located at 38th & Hamilton Street in Philadelphia, PA.

Operation Restore Hope The Project ‘Operation Restore Hope’ is a campaign to provide financial support to service members and families of military service members whose lives have been affected due to the call of duty and the financial strain on families during the current economic struggles in the United States of America. Project ‘Operation Restore Hope’ uses proceeds from the sale of the CD single entitled “Who will shed a tear” to provide needed services/materials that will allow families to respond to emergency situations they face due to hardship, injury, and loss of a loved one. The Armed Forces Relief Trust is the nonprofit organization that distributes funds equally to all military services. For more information about them please visit their website at The song “Who will shed a tear” unfolds the story of a service members final tribute at the burial. The surviving loved one is presented a United States flag from a grateful nation. The song asks the question, who will explain to their children they will not be coming home? And finally reveals the thoughts of those deployed away from loved ones, how they long to return home safe. Those who serve in the armed forces are some of the brightest, well mannered, smartest, and patriotic in America. They all have different reasons for choosing the military as a way of life for either a short-term answer to life’s challenges or to give a life-time commitment to serving the nation. Regardless of reason, background, race, and circumstance that brought them together, the bond of protection keeps them together. Nothing can explain why with the harsh reality of their duty, many continue to reenlist and stand side by side with their fellow service members. It’s the bonds of friendship borne from the common theme ‘I am my brother’s keeper’. Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard all pay a heavy price to defend this nation and often go unrewarded. Who pays the highest sacrifice for freedom, the politician who debates in the halls of climate controlled buildings or the service member miles away from modern conveniences? Shouldn’t those who take the greatest risk be given the greater reward or should those who sacrifice so little get all the spoils? How many raises will politicians vote and approve for themselves and give service men and women mere pennies? Let’s really honor those who lay their lives on the line for freedom and the American ideas of life. Teachers, police, firemen, paramedics, and service men and women all deserve our best and to deny them that could do more harm than any terrorist attack could ever do. Support the services and the families they have by supporting this project. This project is made possible through the work of Bro. Verdis A. Collins, Sr. - US Army (Retired); he is the son-in-law of Sis. Cynthia Douse Lay President, New Bethel, Germantown in Philadelphia, PA; you can also purchase the song from ITUNES or AMAZON MP3. If you would like more information you can reach Bro. Collins via Email at


The First District Flame, Spring 2011, Page 6

“Reuniting the Past, with the Present and Looking to the Future: Rekindling Prayers, Worship and Community.” Submitted by Rev. Carolyn C. Cavaness and Sister Robin R.C.W. Johnson ~ Photos by Brother Bobby Durr

On Sunday, November 21, 2010, the congregation of Union Chapel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, 209 Wainwright Street, Newark, NJ, celebrated an interfaith worship service with by the former members of Congregation Ahavat Israel. The theme for the celebration was “Reuniting the Past, With the Present and Looking to the Future: Rekindling Prayers, Worship and Community.” All in attendance agreed that the service was truly a day of celebration, reflection and unity during which the members of the Union Chapel AME Church, Newark, NJ, and our guest from the Jewish community, celebrated and commemorated the rich history and faith that undergirds our religious communities. The day far exceeded the expectations of all in attendance as this service presented an opportunity for both the Jewish and Christian communities to reaffirm their commonalities and also empathized the necessity for faith communities to come together to serve and impact the lives of those in our communities. “We hope that this interfaith service will be the catalyst for more opportunities to tell a complete history of Newark, NJ, but also how we share in our commitment to God, prayer and witness.” stated the pastor of Union Chapel, Rev. Anthony Mitchell, Sr., whom together with Rabbi Israel Dresner, Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Beth Tikvah in Wayne, NJ led the service. The common bond that brought these two (2) communities together is an address and the edifice located at 209 Wainwright Street in Newark, NJ. Prior to becoming Union Chapel AME Church, for over thirty (30) years, 209 Wainwright Street served as the spiritual locale for Congregation Avath Israel. Reminders of Union Chapel’s prior life as a synagogue include an inscription of the Ten (10) Commandments in Hebrew on the church’s facade and a pulpit containing the Star of David in the church’s fellowship hall. Both religious communities have served as beacons of light and places of refuge for families, government officials and the larger Weequahic community. The Union Chapel family, felt blessed for the opportunity to share in worship and celebration with members from the former Congregation Ahavat Israel which once called the present Union Chapel building home. With over 300 persons in attendance the congregation was led in song by the R.F. Norris Inspirational Choir, Anointed Generation Choir and the UC Jubilee Choir. The worship service brought out the very best of both faith traditions including the sounding of the Shofar, and the reading of Scriptures, which reminded all present of our duty to seek and do justice. The congregation was blessed to have The Right Reverend Richard Franklin Norris, Sr., presiding prelate of the First Episcopal District. Bishop Norris, serve as the preacher for the day. Bishop Norris served as the pastor of Union Chapel from 1967 until 1978. His participation in the service was especially poignant for the members of Union Chapel, because in 1969, under the leadership of Rev. Norris, Union Chapel purchased 209 Wainwright Street from Congregation Avath Israel, and for over thirty (30) years; it has become an integral part of the Weequahic neighborhood and has expanded upon its unwavering commitment to God and humanity by developing initiatives to enhance the quality of life for all in the Greater Newark community for the glory of G-d. Rabbi Israel, Dresner, a confidant of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and a veteran of the Civil Rights movement, remarked upon the importance of gatherings sucn as these, in the life of his community as they reaffirm the urgency for faith communities to collaborate and coming together to up lift the good in all humanity. Also, present to participate in this event were Newark District Presiding Elder, Howard L. Grant, and Rabbi Joseph Eshenrkranz, Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Agudath Sholom, in Stamford, Conn.,whose father Rabbi Max Eshenrkranz oversaw the construction of the 209 Wainwright Stree edifice. Rabbi Max Eshenrkranz served as the sole Rabbi of Congregation Avath Israel. His son Rabbi Joe, recalled how as a child, he would sit in the window of his home and watch the construction of the synagogue across the street. During the service, Bishop Norris, fondly recalled that on the day the purchase of the building was finalized, he shook hands with Rabbi Max Ehrenkrantz and that he welcomed the opportunity to also shake hands with his, son. Visibly moved, Rabbi Joe expressed amazement and gratitude for the opportunity to shake the hand of Bishop Norris who shook the hand of his father. Bishop Norris encouraged the congregation to hold fast to the faith that should undergird our lives and work. Wimphrey Jenkins, the Chairperson for the event stated, “It is hoped that this revitalized relationship will encourage members of the Jewish Community to return home to Newark to work with the Black community for the benefit of seniors and future generations. Our children need to know each other and our seniors need to share their wisdom with both sets of children.” Following the service, in order to commemorate and celebrate the contributions of so many who have helped to shape and make 209 Wainwright Street the beacon of hope, faith and inspiration that it is, Union Chapel dedicated the The Living Legacy Tree of Life & Love Donor Wall to recognize the contributions of many members and friends of Union Chapel. The Living Legacy Tree of Life & Love Donor Wall was dedicated to the memory of The Rev. Walter Simeon Slade, the founding pastor of Union Chapel AME Church. Union Chapel also dedicated an eternal light in honor of Bishop Norris in recognition of his vision and determination to establish a “new” home for Union Chapel during his pastorate. It is not often that we are able to say thank you and recognize the leadership of those before us” stated Rev. Carolyn C. Cavaness, great niece of the founder of Union Chapel AME Church, the Rev. Walter Slade. “For my family this is a special moment. I would suspect that my great uncle would have never imagined that the congregation he started in a converted house on Sussex Avenue is still thriving, serving God and its community Not only was an eternal light placed in honor of Bishop Norris, but also of Mr. Joseph Braff, one of the long time members and initial founders of Congregation Avath Israel. An eternal light had been lit in his honor, however the light was removed and given to his children Susan Sayers and Hal Braff, when Congregation Avath Israel was sold to Union Chapel AME Church. It was decided that his light would be “rekindled” at Union Chapel on this day of celebration in order to recognize his commitment to Congregation Avath Israel, which was largely responsible for the establishment of the congregation at 209 Wainwright Street. Both of his children were filled with joy during this celebration. It rekindled feelings and thoughts of their upbringing and just how much 209 Wainwright Street was vital to their existence and foundation as people of faith. As Hal stated,” the Eternal Light first installed 57 years ago will be re-installed as a permanent reminder that we are each children of G-d and each the keeper of the other.” The day was one to be remembered by all. Never before at 209 Wainwright Street have the old and current inhabitants come together with the common purpose of celebrating the uniqueness of each other’s tradition, but also to say thank you to each other and those before for their witness, work and vision that has afforded both communities to continue to live out G-d’s love. As Hal Braff stated, “ The building has been and remains the guardian of the prayers of my father and other Jews who first covered its walls with prayers to G-d and the prayers of Christians who worship there today.”


The First District Flame, Spring 2011, Page 7 has a wealth of Health information and resources for your congregations, Health Ministries and local community. Preventative HEALTH information saves lives! Matthew 4:23 speaks of Jesus healing people of all types of sickness and disease. You have prayed for healing now together we can help them put their FAITH IN ACTION! Mr. Gabes Hayes and Mr. Silas Buchanan - are ready to set up an AMECHealth web site for your church or add to your current church website, YPD website, YAN Web site, Missionary web site, Lay Web site, District Web site and Ministry web site to AMECHealth -FOR FREE! Mr. Hayes and Mr. Buchanan will do all the work for you!!!! Why 1. represents all of the AME Districts and Conferences around the world!! 2. Your church and organization will be connected! "Connectional "- when you create an website. 3. You will recieve first hand information about health resources, GRANT Money for projects in your community and state. 4. The National Health Campaigns that the AME Church is launching and participating. is recognized by National Institute of Health and other organizations as a valueable resource 5. When you post information about your church - your information will be shared and read worldwide by AME Churches and others! 6. Tools & resources to address the Health Insurance Reform and help people living without Health Insurance. 7. Disaster Preparation information, First Aid & Prescription information and more....(How to step up a First Aid Station for Conferences!!!) 8. Send the following information via email (you can call Mr. Hayes with questions at 713-569-7348) Email to Mr. Hayes: 1. Church Name 2. Pastor Name or Coordinator or Director or Chairperson or Health Director name 3. Pastor email address - for web site 4. Church email address - for web site or Organization email address 5. Church Address and telephone number 6. *If you are a District, Conference or Local - Leader in the Church - please indicate that in your email to Mr. Hayes That is all you need to create a Health Ministry Website today and become connected worldwide! God Bless You, First Episcopal District Health Commission


The First District Flame, Spring 2011, Page 8

Bishops & General Officers of the African Methodist Episcopal Church 2008 - 2012 Dr. Clement W. Fugh General Secretary/Chief Information Officer Dr. Johnny Barbour, Jr. Secretary-Treasurer, Sunday School Union Dr. George F. Flowers Executive Director, Global Witness & Ministry Dr. Jerome V. Harris Executive Director, Annuity, Investments & Insurance Dr. Richard Allen Lewis Treasurer/Chief Financial Officer Dr. James C. Wade Executive Director, Church Growth & Development Dr. Daryl B. Ingram Secretary-Treasurer, Christian Education Department Dr. Dennis C. Dickerson Historiographer/Director of Research & Scholarship & Editor, AME Review Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor Editor, The Christian Recorder

Judicial Council: Lay: Atty. Benjamin F. Edwards Dr. J.B. Flowers Judge Tania E. Wright Atty. Rosemarie Rhoades-Miller Atty. Patricia M. Mayberry

Clergy: Alternates Rev. Francine A. Brookins, Esq. Rev. James T. Golden Rev. Granville W. Reed, III Rev. Delman Howard Rev. Dr. Leomia Kelly Rev. Vonciel Jones Hill

Bishops (In Order of Assignments) Episcopal District – Bishop Richard Franklin Norris nd 2 Episcopal District – Bishop Adam Jefferson Richardson 3rd Episcopal District – Bishop Cornel Garnett Henning 4th Episcopal District – Bishop John Richard Bryant 5th Episcopal District – Bishop Theodore Larry Kirkland 6th Episcopal District – Bishop William Phillips DeVeaux 7th Episcopal District – Bishop Preston Warren Williams II 8th Episcopal District – Bishop Carolyn Tyler Guidry 9th Episcopal District - Bishop James Levert Davis 10th Episcopal District – Bishop Gregory G. M. Ingram 11th Episcopal District – Bishop McKinley Young 12th Episcopal District—Bishop Samuel Lawrence Green, Sr. 13th Episcopal District – Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie 14th Episcopal District – Bishop David R. Daniels 15th Episcopal District – Bishop E. Earl McCloud, Jr. 16th Episcopal District – Bishop Sarah Frances Davis 17th Episcopal District – Bishop Paul Jones Kawimbe 18th Episcopal District – Bishop Wilfred Messiah 19th Episcopal District – Bishop Jeffrey N. Leath 20th Episcopal District – Bishop Julius H. McAllister Office of Ecumenical and Urban Affairs - Bishop John F. White 1st

* - Deceased


The First District Flame, Spring 2011, Page 9

Bethel AME Church celebrates 175th Church Anniversary Submitted by Anita Hanna Matthews

Reverend Martin D. Odom Pastor Under the esteemed leadership of Rev. Martin D. Odom, his cherished helpmate Mrs. Nicole Odom, and the dedicated members of Bethel “Village” AME Church of Harrisburg, PA the 175th Anniversary of this great church was celebrated during September 24th -29th. The Anniversary theme, “It’s Been a Long Time Comin’” was ever so fitting for this long established and progressive church. The enthusiastic Anniversary Chairperson, Sis. Alvina R. Fortner and her attentive Committees zealously worked to incorporate the “history of the past with this present age” and developed it into an auspicious occasion. Friday (09/24) The celebration began with a eloquent Anniversary Banquet at the exquisite Navy Officers’ Club in Mechanicsburg. The Statement of Purpose declared: “This grand occasion has been called that we may celebrate 175 years of labor and love here at this, the House of God, that we call the Bethel “Village”; and also to pay tribute and honor to those, who with their prayers, presence, gifts and services unselfishly and humbly have dedicated their lives to the mission of our church, so that others may see their good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven.” Harrisburg District Presiding Elder Lawrence C. Henryhand expressed his CONGRATULATIONS AND THANKS as he commended Pastor Odom and the members of Bethel for all that they have done and are yet doing. The Honorees of Bethel “Village” were Sis. Lucy Bibby, Bro. John “Randy” Colden, Sis. Mary L. Davis, Bro. Leon Pynes, and Bro . Milton Stanley. These members of Bethel rendered many years of dedicated and faithful labor and Christian service to Bethel and throughout the Community. Bethel also graciously extended unique generosity to a Guest Honoree, Sis. Anita Hanna Matthews of Monumental AMEC, Steelton in recognition to her service rendered throughout the Harrisburg District. Pastor Odom presented each Honoree with a Commemorative Plaque for their unique service. Sunday: (09/26) At this charismatic and reverential Sunday Worship Service, the Guest Speaker was Mrs. Anne Henning Byfield, a distinguished preacher, speaker, writer, poet, composer, teacher, motivational life coach, who emphatically believes that “all must Live.” Her uplifting sermon “Don’t Throw Away the Obvious: Tomorrow May Be Too Late” challenged us to “stop sitting down on our assets by judging others, and to stop letting unfavorable circumstances or conditions of the past prevail that will block our blessings and possibilities.” Among the many guests In attendance at this worship service was United States Representative Jim Clyburn and Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson. Wednesday (09/29) The renown and captivating powerful preacher Pastor Jamal Harrison Bryant of Empowerment Temple AME Church, Baltimore, MD drew 100’s & 100’s of people of all ages from many denominations to witness and worship at the Capital City Fire Crusade 2010 One Night Revival, “Fire In My Bones.” Pastor Bryant delivered a powerful, soul-stirring, thought provoking message which offered empowering ways to “forget the past – face the present and do what God inspires you to do. Along with Pastor Odom’s leadership, the committed and faithful members of Bethel “Village” have embarked on several unique ministries inclusive of: Liturgical Dance, Orators Classes, Aerobics, Wednesday Night Youth Bible Study, Tape/Video services, a Health Commission, the MD Odom Commission on Community Initiatives, Summer Youth Basketball Camp, Wonderful Wednesday Worship Service, etc. Bethel “Village” AMEC Church is truly endowed with dedicated and devoted members. And, “the Village” is most certainly a pillar of strength and a beacon of light in our Community. “BE BLESSED BETHEL ” to celebrate 175 more years of Service for the Lord , “WHERE LOVE MAKES THE DIFFERENCE.”


The First District Flame, Spring 2011, Page 10

SCENES FROM THE 1ST DISTRICT VISIT TO THE 19th EPISCOPAL DISTRICT Photos Courtesy of Jacqueline Sibblies - Mt. Zion, Plainfield窶年ew Jersey Conference


The First District Flame, Spring 2011, Page 11


The South District Mass Choir shared in Song during the Worship Service

South District Component Leaders participate in in the Call to Worship, Scripture & Introduction of Presiding Elder James E.F. Lawrence

Reverend Jocelyn K. Hart - Pastor of Hickman Temple presents the Purpose for the service.

Presiding Elder Lawrence presents the preacher, the Rev. Maurice M. Hughes (Fmr. Pastor - New Bethel, G’town)

Reverend Maurice M. Hughes (Retired Pastor of New Bethel - Germantown) preaches during the End of the Year Worship Service

Retired Pastor, Reverend Attles greets the district during closing remarks.

Reverend Alberta Jones (Mt. Zion, Darby) presents Rev. Hughes with a beautiful plaque given on behalf of the Ministers of the district; preaches during the End of the Year Worship Service


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ST. PAUL AME CHURCH VICTOR SCOTT ADOPT-A-SCHOOL MINISTRY PRESENTS MRS. VALERIE WILLIAMS, PRINCIPAL WITH A CHECK FOR $1,350.00 On December 10, 2010 The Rev. Dr. Lanel D. Guyton on behalf of the members of St. Paul AME Church donated a check for $1350.00 to aide Victor Scott Primary School in their educational endeavors. St. Paul has continued to support Victor Scott through a number of initiatives design to bridge the gap between the church, schools, and the community at-large. The ministry itself, is coordinated by Sis. Nadine Lapsley Dyer, an educator in her own right. She continues to coordinate the ‘Back To School Supplies Drive’; the participation of staff, and children of Victor Scott on our Community Day Worship and Block Party Annual celebration; and Seniors of St. Paul, who volunteer throughout the week, reading with the students at Victor Scott __________________________________________________________________

BERMUDA CONFERENCE HOMEWORK CLUB CELEBRATE WITH THE GIVING OF SKILLS AND GIFTS FOR CHRISTMAS Submitted by Nadine Lapsley Dyer The Bermuda Conference Homework Club held a Christmas party and gift giving session for the deserving student participants of the Victor Scott Primary School. The celebration marked another school term of instructional assistance by worthy volunteers. These are not your usual volunteers, but are persons with professional expertise ranging from the president of Bermuda College, Dr. Duranda Greene; to Dr. Tracey Grant; Mrs. Marlette Darrell, Mrs. Nadine Lapsley Dyer (Chairperson); the president of the Bermuda Senate, The Hon. Carol A. M. Basset, JP; also students from Cedar Bridge, and Berkeley Institute. The Rev. Dr. Lanel D. Guyton, pastor of St. Paul AME Church assisted Mrs. Dyer with the gift presentations. Every student participant received a gift celebrating their consistency and willingness to improve their educational skills.


December 10, 2010 Marked another night of youthful celebration as the J.A.M. Youth ministry gathered in St. Paul’s Centennial Hall Worship Centre. Friday night saw a culmination of three major component ministries at St. Paul come together to host youth members, as well as children and youth from the community who are not members of the church. The evening kick-off with a Christmas drama presentation on the “Miracle Birth of Jesus.” The play was the vision of the J. A. M. coordinator Mrs. Nadine Lapsley- Dyer whom also served as narrator. Children of all ages participated, playing various biblical characters in the nativity story. On hand to witness this eventful production were numerous parents of children in the play and those on hand to watch. Parents, youth, and children were treated to a night of arts and crafts, games, activities, a movie on the big screens, and a delightful holiday meal. The Christmas spirit filled the air, as volunteer parents decorated the church’s Christmas tree. The J. A. M. Youth ministry also has an outreach component as parents, members of the church and many kind-hearted persons donated toys for needy families in Bermuda. What a feeling of excitement as three huge containers were filled to the brim with new toys. Rev. Dr. Lanel D. Guyton, accompanied by The Hon. Michael A. Weekes, JP, MP presented the donated toys to Mrs. Valerie Williams, principal of Victor Scott; and Mrs. Tresca Scott, counselor. Victor Scott School is St. Paul’s adopted school, and has been for three years (Nadine Lapsley Dyer- coordinator). Said Rev. Dr. Guyton, “I applaud those who donated toys as well as monetary gifts on this occasion. It is without a doubt certain families in Bermuda will be blessed and able to have a more joyful Christmas as a result of the church’s giving.”

The original intent and purpose of J.A.M. was to continue ministering to our young people throughout St. Paul’s church renovations, because of The vision for the Bermuda Conference Homework Club was initiated at the seat of the limited space. The J. A. M. Youth ministry originally was comprised of 2008 Bermuda Annual Conference. Our Bishop Richard F. Norris was concerned about the the Church School, Young People’s Division (Y.P.D.), and the Youth education of the Bermuda children, and wanted the Commission on Education to develop a Choir members. The program began at six o’clock and ended at nine plan to assist the community. The Bermuda Conference Education Commission was successful in collaborating with the Department of Youth, Sport, and Recreation’s after-school o’clock. The children were transitioned through each of the ministries before being fed by volunteers and members of the St. Paul Rose Bell program at Victor Scott Primary school. Missionary Society. Now that the church renovations are nearing completion, the St. Paul Board of Steward continues to operate J.A.M. Youth The objective of the Homework Club is to support students in achieving their academic goals by assisting them with their assignments after school. The Homework Club is open to ministry on Friday nights with a special emphasis on outreach. To God all students; currently 27 plus children takes advantage of the program. Thanks to the vibe the glory! sion of our Bishop Richard Norris, and our volunteers who sacrifice their valuable time, the students at Victor Scott are better prepared as a result.


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WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE DELAWARE ANNUAL CONFERENCE THE EIGHTY-EIGHTH SESSION OF THE DELAWARE ANNUAL CONFERENCE: District Theme: “Reach, Reclaim, Engage, Empower” Luke 10:1 Submitted by Mrs. Edna M. Sharp The Delaware Annual Conference convened on April 14-16, 2011 under our distinguished Episcopal Leadership Bishop Richard F. Norris and Mother Mary Ann Norris. The annual conference was held at the Historic Bethel AME church in Wilmington where the pastor is the Reverend Silvester Scott Beaman who is a candidate for 2012 Episcopal Honors. The Delaware Conference has 2 outstanding Presiding Elders: Presiding Elder Charles E. Drummer, Jr., Wilmington District and the Rev. Winton M. Hill III, Dover District. The Annual Sermon was preached by the Reverend James Foster, pastor of Antioch AME church in Frankford, Delaware. The voices of the Bethel AME Wilmington choir and the Antioch choir sang our hearts happy. Highlights of the eighty-eighth session of the conference included election of delegates to the 49th Quadrennial Session of the General Conference. Ministerial Delegates elected: The Rev. Sylvester S. Beaman The Rev. Ellis B. Lowden The Rev. Janet J. Sturdivant The Rev. James Foster The Rev. Winton M. Hill III Alternate Ministerial Delegates elected: The Rev. Walter Dixon The Rev. Natalie Alford The Rev. Michael D. Washington The Rev. Linda Powell The Rev. Sharon Morgan Lay Delegates elected: Sister Edna M. Sharp Brother Clarence Fleming Sister Katrina Smith Sister Carla Benson-Green Sister Kori Beaman-Youth Alternate Lay Delegates elected: Sister Ronell Brown, 1st Alternate Sister Ebony Hill Brother M. Terry Watson Brother Bernard Williams Brother Kenneth Roach-Youth Elected and ordained Itinerant Elders in the African Methodist Episcopal Church: The Rev. Tresa Carter-Coston The Rev. Leslie Porter The Rev. Rosalyn Winder Elected and Ordained Local Elders in the African Methodist Episcopal Church: The Rev. Joanne Holder The Rev. Pamela Connelly Bishop Frederick Hilborn Talbot preached the Ordination and Closing Sermon. The Rev. Charles E. Drummer Jr. retired after serving 18 of his 50 years in ministry as Presiding Elder of the Wilmington District. After the official closing of the conference, the Wilmington District honored him with a concert featuring the Christian Travelers. The Reverend Drummer was surrounded by his wife, Mrs. Helen H. Drummer, children grandchildren and friends. The Rev. Shirley Smith former pastor of Mt. Friendship also retired from active ministry. Other conference activities included Annual Lay Night under the Leadership of Mrs. Edna M. Sharp. The speaker was Mrs. Mary L. Mootoo, the First Episcopal District Lay President. The Delaware Conference Lay Choir provided the music. The Board of Christian Education under the direction of Mrs. Trina Walker this year had two Delaware Conference “Youths of The Year”; Ms. Dominque Brown from the Dover area and Ms. Kianna Collins from the Wilmington area. The Rev. Marcellus Norris brought the message, “Time to get off the Play Ground.” What a mighty word! Pre-conference activities included the Delaware Annual Conference Women’s Missionary Society’s Annual Day. Mrs. Charlotte M. Tull is the Conference Branch President. The Reverend Manuel M. Biagas delivered the sermon. The Sons of Allen Night, President Clyde E. Mines preacher was the Reverend Karl A. Stevens, pastor of Byrd’s AME Church, Clayton, DE. The choir from Byrd’s brought a mighty message in song! The Rev. Gerald Hesson, pastor of St. George AME Church in Lewes Delaware was the preacher for Evangelist Night. The Rev. Jean M. Sudler is the Conference Director if Evangelism. This was a very informative, Holy Ghost-filled Annual Conference. The evangelists prepared us with worship, song and praise. The 1st Episcopal Team is Number 1; and 2nd to none. What a wonderful Spirit Filled Annual Conference.


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WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE NEW JERSEY ANNUAL CONFERENCE Addie M. Smith Missionary Society Annual Tea Party and Hat Showcase “Grace In The Garden”


Sis. Jackie James, Director of Harvest Food Pantry The Women’s Missionary Society of St. Paul A.M.E. Church, Kenilworth, NJ held a wonderful eent on Saturday, May 21, 2011. It was their 1st Annual Tea Party and Hat Showcase, called “Grace In The Garden”.

The first day of May was a special day in Chesilhurst, New Jersey for Grant AME Church and community. The church sponsored “Random Acts of Kindness Sunday” in which members and friends donated goods for persons in need and the church leadership distributed them on Sunday afternoon in a public forum. The acts of kindness included food items, toiletries, gift baskets, diapers, articles of clothing, accessories, small appliances and gift cards to restaurants, grocery stores and retail stores. A reserved section of the church was used to showcase these gifts, as members of Grant prayed over each gift and household that would receive such. The prayer team specifically prayed that as physical needs were met, hearts and spirits would receive the Lord Jesus Christ. God answered their prayers; four persons received the gift of salvation on Sunday afternoon. During the service, Bro. Charles Amos, a trustee of the church prayed, “God, we are thankful for the vision of our pastor and how you are using us to bless others. Help us to be more like Jesus.”

The event was well attended with ladies dressed to the nines with their hats, dresses/suits and gloves. The afternoon was filled with grace. We sipped flavored teas, ate scones and petit fours. And to top it off, we showcased our hats. We also played garden games for prizes and got to know all the attendees.

Several families received acts of kindnesses. Recipients ranged from two months to eighty two years old, with diverse backgrounds and cultures. Mrs. Roberta Rose, a ninety-year-old mother of the church commented, “It was a special time for the love of God to be demonstrated in our church. It was a wonderful day for us all. ” The highlight included a sacrificial gift from the church for ten-year-old Chloe Stokes-Austin who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. The church contributed five hundred dollars to the Stokes-Austin family, to assist them in medical expenses and transportation needs. Also, the church honored a volunteer of the Harvest Food Pantry, Sis. Celia Williams, a single mother, full-time student and dedicated church worker. She and her children received gifts of love to include gift baskets, toys and one hundred dollars. Sis. Diane Foster of Atco, NJ commented, “I am proud to be a part of this church. God is really blessing us. We are proud of our Pastor and the awesome work she is doing.”

The question was asked, “What kind of “T” are you? Some of the answers were – HONESTY, CHARITY, CURIOUSITY, NOBILITY, ACTIVITY, CREATIVITY, and BEAUTY. Sis. Charlotte M. Garrett, President Sis. Tashira Wheeler, Program Chairperson Rev. Vanessa L. Perry, Pastor

The Biblical foundation for this ministry is Luke 6:38 “If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving -large or small -- it will be used to measure what is given back to you." (New Living Translation) The church has community services and programs weekly to include the Harvest Food Pantry, Dorcas Clothing Closet, Youth Mentoring Program, Share Food Program, Soul Food Soup Kitchen, Morning Manna, and Kids Night Out. These programs have been instituted under the leadership of the present pastor, DeLishia Boykin Mitchem. The church also has a program entitled Mother Earth, which has weekly activities for senior citizens for education, enrichment and enhancement. The church and non profit theme is “Transforming lives every day and in every way.” Christian love was demonstrated to random persons in a tangible form to lead contributors and beneficiaries to a closer walk with the Lord. For more information on Random Acts of Kindness and how you can participate, go to, email or call the Administrative Office (856) 767-4959.


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NOW AVAILBLE!!!!!!! PURCHASE A COPY FOR YOUR CHURCH OR FOR YOUR PERSONAL LIBRARY 419 S 6th Street Philadelphia, PA 19147 (215) 925-0616 Reverend Dr. Mark K. Tyler Pastor


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WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE NEW YORK ANNUAL CONFERENCE Birthday Party Increases Awareness of Marfan Syndrome By Mrs. Jeannette T. Johns (This Article also appeared in The Christian Recorder)

BETHEL, HUNTINGTON MEMBER INDUCTED INTO SUFFOLK COUNTY WOMEN’S HALL OF FAME Submitted by Mrs. Jeannette T. Johns At a gala luncheon held at Watermill Inn in Smithtown, Long Island, NY Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy paid tribute to Dolores (Dee) Thompson as she was inducted into the Suffolk County Women’s Hall of Fame. Inclusion in the Hall of Fame reflects selfless devotion of energies and talents to the advancement and well-being of the women in the county. Executive Levy said that he was pleased to honor this remarkable woman and was glad to thank her personally for all the good work she has done and continues to do. Suffolk County, he said, is a better place thanks to her efforts.

Jeanne Marie Marve had always wanted to attend a Masquerade Ball, but she never had that opportunity. So, for her 30th birthday she decided to give herself a birthday party with a Masquerade theme. As her plans began to take shape she felt that since her father had been diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome some years ago, she wanted to use this special occasion to develop awareness of this little-known genetic disorder of connective tissue which can be detrimental to the eyes, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and skin of the body. Jeanne’s invitation stated that she would honor her father and his doctors by requesting that in lieu of birthday gifts for her, donations be made to The National Marfan Foundation. A representative of The Marfan Foundation was contacted and she happily supplied bookmarks for the tables which contained general information about this condition.

As an inductee she will be featured along with the 29 other Hall of Fame members who have individual plaques and photographs displayed in the southwest corner of the Plaza in the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge. This installation, which was unveiled in July, recognizes all recipients of the award since its beginning in 1994.

The well-planned party was held at Knights of Columbus Hall in Bay Shore, NY with 50 guests representing all the facets of her life that are most important to her – family, childhood, high school, employment, National Hampton Alumni Association, her Mets Family, and church. Her guest list spanned three generations.

Inductee Dolores Thompson lives, breathes, and talks the ideal of caring for others who cannot always represent themselves. She has served as the Branch President of the Huntington NAACP for 16 years, sponsoring community activities and contributing significantly to the well being of her beloved Town of Huntington and County of Suffolk. Under Mrs. Thompson’s leadership, her Branch has been a beacon in the community. Annually, the Huntington NAACP bestows substantial university scholarships to a minimum of 12 youth. The funds are obtained from contributions collected from local businesses. Mrs. Thompson has also used her superior leadership skills to help other NAACP branches. Under the auspices of a “Long Island Coalition of NAACP Branches,” funds have been raised to assist various branches with operating expenses, thereby increasing awareness of the various branches of the NAACP across Long Island. More than 1,500 individuals have attended the annual Freedom Fund luncheons sponsored by this coalition.

There were many fascinating highlights at the party, each contributing to the success of the occasion for both the honoree and for The National Marfan Foundation. As a result of Jeanne’s unselfish party planning, she was able to report over $2,200 to The Marfan Foundation, with more donations arriving daily.

In addition, as part of a campaign to assist with hiring minority police officers, Mrs. Thompson worked closely with County Executive Levy and Suffolk Police Commissioner Richard Dormer, creating a plan of action to ensure that quality candidates were informed about the police application and test processes.

Jeanne has been a Farmingdale, Long Island, NY resident from infancy and has been known in the Farmingdale community for her outstanding voice, having participated with the award -winning Farmingdale High School Choir and the exclusive singing group of 16 young women, the award-winning “The Nightingdalers” (better known as “The Slinks”). Jeanne distinguished her high school career as the first Black Drum Major of Farmingdale High School, serving for 3 years and directing the steps of the 300-piece Farmingdale High School Band as they performed in various venues. She graduated in 1999 and continued her education at Hampton University, graduating in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology.

Mrs. Thompson founded and is President/CEO of the Huntington Station Enrichment Center, a community facility established for residents providing training in computer skills, entrepreneurship, English as a second language, job placement and youth and senior services. Through the youth program, children can come after school and on weekends to participate in fun-filled activities at a modest cost, keeping them off the streets and in a safe place. Dee also serves as the Chairperson of the Dolan Family Health Center Advisory Board, as well as a Corporate Trustee of the Huntington Hospital Board of Directors where she continues to provide her expertise in implementing policy.

While a student at Hampton University, Jeanne faithfully adhered to her religious upbringing by attending Beulah Tabernacle where she sang in the choir, led the Step Team (“SHOD”), and participated in the many positive activities provided by this church which specifically geared its services to the needs of college students in the area. During her Senior year she enrolled in a New Testament class taught by the Rev. Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III, who now serves as the 20th Editor of “The Christian Recorder” (“TCR”), the official newspaper of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Recently, Dr. Sydnor issued Challenge VII, inviting readers of “TCR” to join him in reading The Bible cover to cover in a year. Jeanne is currently using the method called “Blended”, which she describes as a nontraditional method of reading The Bible. Two books are read at one time, starting with Genesis and Mark.

A long-time member of Leadership Huntington’s President’s Council, Dee is well known for her diverse and extensive service to the health, welfare and continuing education of the Huntington community. Through this Council, she mentors many of the bright, up-and-coming young adults of the community through the organization’s Flagship Program.

As a Psychology major Jeanne qualified during her Senior year for membership in Psy Chi, a National Psychology Honor Society. She also accepted membership in Golden Key International Honour Society and was individually honored during a campus ceremony. The invitation to join Golden Key distinguished Jeanne among the top 15% of her classmates.

In 2010 she was honored locally with the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce’s Klaber Award. This is given to a citizen who has a record of distinguished and exceptional voluntary service to the community for 15 years or more and has held key leadership positions with diverse town-wide organizations. Also, the Urban League of Long Island honored her with their 2010 Legacy Award.

Jeanne is a member of Bethel A.M.E. Church, Huntington, NY where her grandfather, the Rev. Clarence B. Johns, Jr. (now deceased) served as pastor for 12 years. There she grew up in Sunday School, was a YPD member, and a member of the Choir, later becoming Assistant Church Clerk. When she returned to Bethel after graduating from Hampton University, she became an Assistant with the Sunday School, rejoined the choir rendering solos and, most of all, enjoying singing duets with her father. The current pastor of Bethel is The Rev. Larry D. Jennings, Sr.

As an active and dedicated member of Bethel A.M.E. Church in Huntington, Long Island, NY she is known throughout the New York Annual Conference and First Episcopal District. She has served for many years as Budget Chair of the New York Conference Lay Organization and Treasurer of the Frank C. Cummings Scholarship Fund, as well as a Delegate on both NY Conference and General Conference levels. Over the years she has served in many leadership capacities in her church and at present serves Bethel, Huntington as a member of the Board of Trustees and Finance Committee Chair. When requested, she has hosted the Annual Church Picnic, which has provided her an opportunity to display her hidden culinary talents as she prepares most of the menu for more than 100 people. Her pastor is the Rev. Larry D. Jennings, Jr.

Jeanne’s current interests include being a member of a Bowling League, and she has a special fondness for participating in the summer plays produced by “St. Kilian Players” of Farmingdale, NY. Plans are currently being made for her 16th participation with this group. In 2005 her years of dedication resulted in her being awarded the leading female role of Nancy in their production of “Oliver!” Jeanne is employed as an Assistant to Dr. William R. Spencer in his practice of Pediatric Otolaryngology in Huntington, NY.


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Football Playoffs Do Not Steal Men Away from Sons of Allen Service By Angelena Spears - Philadelphia Conference Reporter More than 100 men gathered at St. Paul AME Church, Philadelphia, for the Sons of Allen Installation Service on Sunday, January 9. What was equally impressive – was that the district-wide service took place at almost the same time as a decisive Philadelphia Eagle Super Bowl playoff game. The preacher for the event was Bishop Richard Franklin Norris, who commended the men of the South Philadelphia District for “breaking away from their tailgating and coming out of their man caves” – to attend the special service. The district’s elder, the Rev. James E.F. Lawrence, also thanked the men for “putting God first.” Although the church attempted to accommodate the men by having a large screen television mounted on the wall in the fellowship hall -- once the service began, all hearts and minds appeared to be engaged in the worship. Bishop Norris preached passionately from 1st Timothy 2:3-6, and his theme was “The Place of Men in the Church.” . Bishop Norris talked about the importance of having strong Sons of Allen Organizations in the local churches and said that [unfortunately] in some congregations men are “as scarce as hen’s teeth.” He said he was pleased with the large turnout of men in the service. When he asked all of the men in the sanctuary to stand – it was well over 100, which included representatives from each of the district’s 17 churches, who had come to be installed as presidents of their local organizations. Although Bishop Norris was quick to acknowledge how important women have always been to the sustenance of the church, he told the men that their involvement was essential to keep the church strong. He then summoned the men to be “saved,” and said there is nothing lacking in masculinity when you are saved. “A saved man will have a testimony,” declared Bishop Norris. At the end of the service, the bishop officiated the installation of the officers . During the ceremony, Brother Gregory Seawell, of New Bethel AME Church, Germantown, was installed as the president of the district’s Sons of Allen, and the Rev. Eugene V. McDuffy, pastor of St. Paul AME Church, Philadelphia, was installed as the district’s chairman of the organization. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Bishop Norris saluted the men.

Paul Reggie Siles Earns Doctorate Degree Submitted by Audrey Nock Dr. Siles recently earned the esteemed degree of Ph.D. in Business Administration from Almeda University. Upon confirmation of his degree it was noted that “Paul Reginald Siles’ dissertation in the form of a book entitled, “The Ministry of Networking,” demonstrated a breadth and depth of knowledge about its subject that can only come from a truly experienced Christian businessman. Drawing upon both scholarly sources and his own experience, Dr. Siles clearly and precisely details a “powerful program [that] will motivate and stimulate an action plan for new entrepreneurs within the African-American male community. This seven step process will clearly identify their roots and cultural foundations, and illustrate that from the moment an idea has been planted in one’s mind, they now have the initial seed of life within them to pursue and accomplish their life’s goals.” In a most scholarly fashion, Dr. Siles defines his terms, sets the limitations of his inquiry, and previews its structure before exploring the various aspects of how “The ministry concept will demonstrate through words and wisdom how the holistic approach to life must be characterized through the spirit of oneness, relationships, and a true understanding of being. Every human being has the seed of life within them and the hidden desire to pursue and accomplish their life’s goals. All are not aware just how to accomplish these goals, but the seven-step process will help lead and show the way.” In this excellent study, Dr. Siles includes beautiful and professional graphics to illustrate his points. This is fascinating and compelling reading, enlightening the reader to many important aspects of networking and business. Dr. Siles concludes that the key to your success is not in what you know or who you know, but rather in who knows you! Those who are successful, wealthy and blessed can help you establish your blessings once they get to understand your image and know your desires. Having the opportunity to network with these types of people will allow you to expand your mindset and gain the privilege of being known. Paul Reginald Siles, Ph.D., is known throughout the Connectional African Methodist Episcopal Church and the business world as a resourceful and team-oriented leader with more than 25 years progressive management experience. He is self-motivated, with a high degree of passion for contributing to the success of all levels of the corporate, divisional, and system organizations. He is recognized for his exceptional ability to develop and manage new programs, special projects, and training initiatives. He has proven himself to be very effective in building organizational relationships through open channels of communication and cooperative methods between all levels of management and community stakeholders. He is dedicated to cross-functional communication training for building relationships and facilitation, and he is motivated by ongoing learning and by being a change agent for technology and performance enhancement. The South District is very proud of Dr. Paul Siles. He currently serves as the Vice Chairman of The Good Neighbor Community Development Corporation under the leadership of Presiding Elder James Lawrence. Dr. Siles led the selected committee in completion of the required 501(c) 3 application for non-profit status. The South District is now preparing to embark upon a series of grant writing initiatives and self-help projects geared toward social, economic, and educational development with the community and church.

Contact Information for speaking engagements, book signings, and financial workshops: Office 267-298-3020, email:


The First District Flame, Spring 2011, Page 19



A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT

By Peggy Pinder

As summer approaches, the mind tends to focus less on work and more on leisure activities such as vacations and backyard cookouts. For members of the connectional AME Church who are planning to remain close to home, there is a special opportunity to play a part in Black History and have summer fun. Yeadon, PA, in the South Presiding Elder District of the Philadelphia Annual Conference is the home of the Nile Swim Club.

My friend Ethel Huie McNair passed away on ‘December 18th and a particular song kept repeating in my brain, “I’ll ‘Be Home For Christmas.” Those of who shared a friendship with Ethel knew she loved to entertain and especially enjoyed the Christmas Holidays.

Mother McNair as she was affectionately called at Allen A.M.E. Church, Philadelphia proudly stated that she joined Allen and was on the Cradle Roll. She talked extensively of growing up in South Philadelphia with her parents and siblings. In those days everyone walked to and from church This is the oldest Black-owned swim club in the United States. It was born out and folks knew you and who you belonged too. Mother McNair was of a discriminatory act. According to the Philadelphia Tribune, the Nile was the blessed to have parents who believed in education and they expected her to brainchild of Elmer Stewart and Robert Mask when their families were denied go to a school of higher learning and so she did. In fact she obtained two membership to the then all-white and currently non-existent Yeadon Swim Club. professions. She was a Registered Nurse and a Guidance Councilor for the With the purchase of two acres of land for $10,000, the Nile Swim Club opened Philadelphia Public School System and she played the piano. for business in 1959. Mother McNair married Rev. Luther F. McNair shortly after graduating In its heyday, the Nile Swim had over 500 members. It also boasted performfrom Wilberforce University and they were blessed with two Children, ances by the likes of Harry Belafonte and Diana Ross. It gave black families the Lester and Susan. Rev. McNair pastured many churches and Mother chance to congregate and to have summer fun, as well as to avoid being the re- McNair was at his side. He preceded her in death and she returned to Allen cipients of discrimination. A.M.E. Church to work out her soul salvation. While being a First Lady, raising a family and pursuing her career she found time to be a great misFifty years later in the City of Brotherly Love, Blacks still faced discriminatory sionary worker both at home and abroad. practices at private swim clubs. NBC 10 news reported that on July 14, 2009, members of the Creative Steps summer camp in Northeast Philadelphia, who I met Mother McNair in the 1970’s because she and my Mother, the late happened to be Black, were turned away from the Valley Swim Club. This was Rev. Helen Tull served on the Tanner Turner Committee together and I done after the camp paid more than $1,900 dues to the private swim club bewas the chauffeur . She became one of my Students at (CWICTI) Citywide cause, “…A lot of kids would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of Interdenominational Christian Training Institute. While it was located at St. the club,” according to John Duessler, Valley Swim Club President as the camps Matthew. I joined the WMS and she became my roommate and along with money was refunded. This is reminiscent of a group of Black worshippers who Sis. M. Joan Cousin sponsored me on a trip to Botswana, Africa. She sugwere put out of a Philadelphia Methodist church in 1787, because of skin color. gested to Dr. Dorothy Adams Peck that if she needed a private secretary that I could do the job. And so, because of Mother McNair I traveled back Unfortunately in recent times, the Nile Swim Club has gone through its own tri- and forth from West Palm Beach, Florida via Washington D.C. many als and tribulations due to a declining economy and decreasing membership. times. Then She decided I should join her packing crew. The Philadelphia Tribune wrote that this once proud institution had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on September 14, 2010, one day before it was On Tuesdays you could find: Mattie and Melvin Logan; (Mt. Pisgah) Gerry to have been sold in a sheriff’s sale to pay almost $127,000 in taxes to the local Price and Wilhelmina Howie (New Bethel, Gmtn) Harriett and Bill Harris school district. There is hope that Yeadon Borough and the Nile will be able to (AME Union) Elsie Galloway and Delores Mosley (Mt. Pisgah) Jackie find a way to work together to keep this community institution operating. Banks (Hickman Temple) Mary Miles (Ward) Catherine Phillips (Allen) Arthean Wicks (Mt. Pisgah) and other friends of Mother McNair’s who In the meantime, Bethel-Lansdowne has done what it can in order to perpetuate would lend a hand. We were careful to thank Rev. Ellis Louden and the the spirit of Richard Allen by supporting this historic place. In July 2006, Bethel good people at Jones Tabernacle, The Johnsons at Apple Storage and the – Lansdowne had service at the Nile Swim Club. One of Bethel’s most faithful Mt. Pisgah Church Family for providing space. members, Elaine Dent, joined the church at that service. Ms. Dent is a member of the Pastor’s Aid Society, the Culinary Ministry, the Lay Organization, the I knew when I joined Allen that my good friend would be there to help Mass Choir, and the Committee on Finance and Stewardship. make my transition easier. We fellowshipped and worked together until her health began to fail and she changed residence and lived with her Weather has not allowed additional planned services to be held at the swim club Daughter and Son in Law, Dyon, her devoted Grandson kept us informed in subsequent years, but the members of Bethel-Lansdowne have continued to on her condition and we applaud his stick to it-ness. support this institution with financial contributions. At first glance, it might appear strange that a church would support something that could be considered an The Home Going Celebration was held December 17th at Hickman Temple. unnecessary frivolity. Bethel-Lansdowne’s pastor, Rev. Trevor E. Woolridge, There were many in attendance young and old. Before the services started feels that the Nile is a vital and needed member of the Lansdowne-Yeadon com- we were able to view a Memorial DVD Tribute that was put together by munity and is supportive of efforts to keep its doors open because Bethelthe Congleton Funeral Home who handled the arrangements. Reverend Lansdowne has members who are also members of the club. There is a need for Wassetta M. Moses, officiated, Bishop Jeffrey N. Leath delivered the a family-oriented place for residents to be able to gather and for the children in Eulogy and Rev. Jocelyn Hart served as host Pastor. Remarks were given the community to be safe. It is a local historic landmark that shows what can be by representatives from: Women’s Missionary Society, Delta Sigma Theta, accomplished when people work together in order fight against discrimination. Wilberforce and Mercy Douglas Alumni, Beeber Junior High School and the Board of Christian Education. As summer vacations and other events are being planned, please follow BethelLansdowne’s lead and do not forget to patronize the Nile Swim Club and institu- A special musical tribute was rendered by Gregory Martin, son in law and tions like it. Although this country has elected its first Black president, Blacks the selections were chosen by her Grandson Dyon and Family During the are still being subjected to racist attitudes and there is still a need for Blackholiday season my thoughts went to the old Christmas poem :”T’was the owned businesses in our communities. Support from AME Churches and mem- night before Christmas.” The very last line reads, They heard him exclaim bers can be important to the survival of places like the Nile and Black-owned as he drove out of sight “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. I and operated businesses are able to provide safe and non-discriminatory services change it this season to “Merry Christmas to all and to Mother McNair a and jobs to communities of color. Concern from today’s church for others peaceful Good Night.” would allow Richard Allen’s spirit and legacy of community building to be able to live on in the 21st century. Nile Swim Club - 513 Union Avenue - Yeadon, PA 19050 - 610-626-9000


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WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE PHILADELPHIA ANNUAL CONFERENCE We offer congratulations to the Reverend Dr. Darlene Barr, pastor Bethel A.M.E. Church, Pottsville, PA who earned a Doctorate degree in Ministry with emphasis in Church Planting and Transformation from Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, GA May 14, 2011. Her Doctoral project was Strategizing Leadership for an African Methodist Episcopal Church Plant, emphasizing the business and spiritual dimensions of church planting in tension with each other to be successful. We are blessed that she brings such knowledge to the African Methodist Episcopal Church as we plan ways to expand our Zion. Congratulatory messages may be sent to: Reverend Dr. Darlene Barr—433 Arbor Rd. Yeadon, PA 19050 _______________________________________________________________

Harrisburg District Completes Sexual Misconduct Training Sessions by Rev. Thomastine Legett-Robinson

Mt. Zion, Columbia hosts a Three-Day Women’s Conference by Rev. Thomastine Legett-Robinson Friday night, April 15, 2011 was not a typical Friday night in Columbia, PA where the opening night for a three day Women’s Conference was held at Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church. The evening started out with an inspiring praise and worship service led by members of the church. The Reverend Patricia McAllister was leading the gathering in a musical interlude when a moaning, bent over woman made her way slowly down the center aisle. Her features were distorted with pain as she used a stick to support her movement. Still she tumbled over, clumsily getting back on her knees as she pressed forward. There she was told to stand for she was healed. The broken woman was transformed into a beautiful woman with confidence and poise who danced with joy exclaiming that “a wonderful thing has come over her for she was Changed.” Praises and hallelujahs went up as the participants acknowledged that they are new everyday because they have been changed. The program moved forward with a gospel concert by the anointed Tiller sisters. With a beginning like this, the women of Columbia and vicinity were blessed by the praise, worship, joy and fellowship.

To ensure that Church Officers and Volunteers receive the required training in Sexual Misconduct in a timely manner and close to home, the Harrisburg District offered two Sexual Misconduct Training Sessions within the District. The training sessions were held October 16, 2010 at Bethany A.M.E. Church, Harrisburg and March 26, 2011 at Bethel A.M.E. Church, Lancaster. We are blessed to have persons on our District qualified to conduct the training. The Reverend Ernestine Boles, pastor Ebenezer A.M.E. Church, Middletown and Bro. David A. Alexander, Esq., member Bethel A.M.E. Church, Harrisburg conducted the training. A total of 187 persons were trained. _______________________________________________________________

. The Tiller Sisters and their band


PHILADELPHIA CONFERENCE CELEBRATES LIFE MEMBERS DURING THE 195TH SESSION OF THE PHILADELPHIA ANNUAL CONFERENCE. by Rev. Thomastine Legett-Robinson Sister Mary Jane Davis, member of Monumental A.M.E. Church, Steelton and First Episcopal District’s Second Vice President of the Women’s Missionary Society was one of two Missionaries who received Lifetime Member status during the 195th Philadelphia Annual Conference’s Women’s Missionary ociety Annual Day held May 24, 2011 at St. Matthews A.M.E. Church in Philadelphia, PA.

IT WAS A FIRE ON THE CORNER! by Rev. Thomastine Legett-Robinson There was a fire on the corner of Second and Adams Streets in Steelton, PA. It was a contained fire with the smoke sent up to God with the sweet, sweet smell of praise and thanksgiving to Him who loves us best. The burnt offering was the prayers written during the Lenten Season at Monumental A.M.E. Church, Steelton. The Reverend Ronald L. Sparks, pastor of Monumental, declared that the prayers of the people have been heard and God has responded as only He can. The people were encouraged and inspired to continue to write their prayers as a method of communication with God. Writing allows them to clearly focus their prayers of praise and request so that they are clear during their conversations with God. We praise God for His grace, mercy, patience and compassion. Hallelujah!


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WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE PHILADELPHIA ANNUAL CONFERENCE SPECIAL RESOLUTION OF THE 195TH SESSION OF THE PHILADELPHIA ANNUAL CONFERENCE FIRST EPISCOPAL DISTRICT AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH SUNDAY MAY 29, 2011 Special Resolution By the grace of God, we gather in this 195th Session of the Philadelphia Annual Conference. We come together at a time of upheaval and turmoil internationally, domestically, particularly, within the State of Pennsylvania. A time when the world is at its worst, this calls for and demands the church to be at its best. We have much to do and must rise to the challenge of the times in which we live. It is our hope that our pastors and congregations will be prophetic and have a relevant voice as we face and address the times in which we live. As we come to the close of this 195th Session of the Philadelphia Annual Conference, there are many issues that have been presented and discussed throughout this conference. However, as a part of this special resolution, we would like to highlight the particular issues of Education, the Economy and Healthcare. It is our hope that we will use our collective voices to express our position on these issues and ask each pastor, delegate, conference reporter and other agencies of this conference to make these positions known to our congregations, the communities that we serve and to the secular press to be disseminated throughout the state. Education Whereas, Governor Tom Corbett’s budget cuts would eliminate nearly $550 million in basic education funding, this will threaten the existence of the pre-K instruction and could reduce Kindergarten classes to a half day. Studies have shown that the early learning years are the most foundational period of our children’s learning. His budget will also cut $650 million in higher education costs; funding for state and staterelated schools (including Temple University and Lincoln University) would be slashed in half. These cuts would dramatically impact the African American and Latino communities. Without a quality education, there would be limited opportunities for jobs and put them at a competitive disadvantage with their counterparts around the world. We must fight for every dollar and not allow this to destroy our future as a people. While it is recognized that money will not solve all of the problems related to education, it goes a long way to ensure that they have the latest technology, current text books and updated facilities for a productive learning environment; and

lican Party, which would significantly alter Medicare/Medicaid as we know it. This plan would allow Medicare/Medicaid to be privatized and will ultimately alter healthcare for our seniors. We must lend our collective voices when voting for federal, state and local officials; attend town hall meetings; and continue to educate our communities in which we serve to ensure affordable healthcare is available to all. Special Resolutions Committee: Reverends: Ronald Sparks Cheryl Coleman Arnold Evans Jacqueline Capers Carlos Bounds Donald Burems Maurice Hughes Bruce Points, Sr. Paul Thomas Delegates: Katherine Thompson Juanita Bryant Deborah Stencil Vevelyn Webb _________________________________________________________

In Memory of “Buck” - Reverdy R. Garrett By Peggy E. Pinder Reverdy Ransom Garrett answered the summons from God the Father to stick his sword in the sands of time, to dismantle his tent and take his rest. So ends the life of a soldier and begins everlasting life. Garrett was known as man of loyalties to his family, church and the organized lay ministries. Garrett, his parents and siblings came to Philadelphia, the Elmwood area from South Carolina at an early age. He graduated from John Bartram High School (where I met him) and attended St. Joseph’s University. A truck driver, a Union officer and sports enthusiast Buck, as we called him kept his roots in the church, He joined St. Paul AME Church at an early age and began to work out his soul salvation. However, he was not satisfied to remain in the local church so he launched out to the Philadelphia Conference and became a Trustee. He served as a First District Delegate to the General Conference many times and was chosen to be the Lay leader of the Delegation.

Buck attended the Connectional meetings being it Bishop’s Council, Episcopal Convos or Connectional Lay Organization. He would bring back information helpful to his peers. While serving as President of the Philadelphia Conference Lay Organization he had a chance to share his vast knowledge of the church at large. St. Paul’s Lay Organization elected him President and National Economy Whereas, the national economy is showing signs of recovery with the here again Buck kept the members abreast of the business of the Connectional Church. Buck was comfortable whether he was at the Preacher’s meetGross National Product and consumer index improving, Wall Street reing, the Self Help Board of the First District, or the Male Chorus at St. Paul. bounding and most importantly jobs being created, specifically and im- He could move in any circle of the Church and make an impact.

portantly private sector jobs. We commend President Barack Obama for the way he has dealt with the many economic challenges he faced as he began his presidency. Examples include, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which has been responsible for about 3 million American jobs and brought the economy back from the brink of another depression. The much maligned government bail outs of the U.S. auto industry and financial institutions, which both are now rebounding and much of the money loaned to them has been paid back with interest. That being said, we must hold President Obama; along with other federal, state, and local officials accountable to ensure that more jobs are created and that we do not cut vital programs that will harm the vulnerable members of our community; and Healthcare Whereas, the HealthCare Reform Act is now law. There has been much rhetoric about what the Act does and how it impacts the American people, doctors, and medical insurance companies. We must take the time to educate ourselves on what the Act says and does. The Republican Party is doing everything they can to try to repeal the Act. The House of Representatives have passed a budget, led by the Repub-

The Home going Service was held Monday, January 10, at St. Matthew AME Church. Bishop Jeffrey N. Leath spoke of Garrett as a Tall man. One who was not only tall in stature but tall in spirit. Presiding Elder James E.F. Lawrence smiled as he told of his long, hot ride with Buck on their way to several churches. I remembered as I sat in the congregation that the first time I heard the expression “a long drink of water”, the young lady was referring to Buck. Bishop Richard F. Norris spoke of how long he had known Buck and the service that he rendered to the District. Rev. Eugene V. McDuffy delivered the Eulogy and stated that he agreed with Garrett’s Brother George who stated in his speech that “Buck loved to debate”. And so it was that many preachers, Organized Lay members, Church Family and friends attended the Service of a true soldier of the cross. Celebration of Life for Reverdy R. Garrett headlined the service program, the St. Paul Choir sang, the Ushers served, Rev. Juanita Hall Walters sang, Rev. Roland McCall, pastor of St. Matthew delivered the prayer of comfort, Sis. Juanita Bryant and Bro. C. Ayers read Scripture. The Celebration allowed us to say ”farewell.” until the Great Coronation Celebration.


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St. James partners with The New Jersey Human Development Corporation Article Submitted by Davia Echols

Saint James AME Church in Manalapan NJ sponsored their second Project Rebuild - Family-to-Family session for the 2010 calendar year in September after a very successful first session that began in March 2010. The former pastor Rev. Phillip Wilson had a vision to bring families together to talk about everyday issues after discussing several of them with some of the membership and witnessing other issues in the community. Rev. Lynda T. Rassmann-Director of Programs and Rev. Vernard R. Leak- Chief Financial Officer encouraged Rev. Wilson to run the program. Project Rebuild - Family-to-Family is a program run by the New Jersey Human Development Corporation. According to their website PROJECT REBUILD is a family strengthening program, with an emphasis on HIV education. It was developed by Dr. Robert Fullilove of Columbia University in 2001 and is designed to address the many issues and challenges facing many communities. It is said that the program takes a “(w)holistic” approach to behavior modification and life change. Their organizational motto is “Rebuilding Our Communities, One Family At A Time. Having a team of dynamic leaders is critical to the success of any corporation, and the current leaders of the New Jersey Human Development Corporation are: Mrs. Wimphrey Jenkins-Board Chairperson, Rev. J. Stanley Justice- Chief Executive Officer, Rev. Vernard R. Leak- Chief Financial Officer and Rev. Lynda T. Rassmann- Director of Programs. For those of you wondering why the sessions have been so successful, you are right! We are under the leadership and guidance of these anointed and appointed soldiers of God. Their website explains that Project Rebuild oversees the Family-to-Family Program which is a special 12-week (2 hour evening session per week) that is designed to assist families in building stronger ties with one another as they learn to face life’s challenges. Families are also taught life skills, such as effective communication, self – esteem building techniques and about HIV/AIDS. In addition The Family-to-Family program teaches families to use family time in a productive way to strengthen family functioning and ties between members. The program’s goal is to help families build foundations of unity, love and understanding. The program is entirely nonsectarian and can be adapted for families of all types. Based on the website, the main idea is that once individuals have a strong foundation from which to build upon, and a safe and open place to share their troubles, dreams and ideas, the self-worth and well-being will be raised to such a level that they are much better prepared to assume the role of responsible, productive members of the community. It is further noted that Project Rebuild is based on the premise that broken families make for broken communities; that troubled men, women, teens and children born out of a turbulent home life carry baggage with them to work, school and within their community. The program works to repair families damaged by external forces by strengthening the internal bond within the family unit. Each session begins with a ½ hour-long meal, giving family’s time to sit and eat together, opening up the possibility for dialogue within the family. The meals at St James Manalapan were provided by the catering service of Famous Dave’s on Route 1 South in New Brunswick, NJ under the direction of manager (Lance Hirshhorn) who was in attendance at one of the first sessions. Each session is the same but may be structured a little different. Our first 12-week session started with an icebreaker to engage the families in song and to get everyone familiar and comfortable with each other. Each week a new family would lead a song and the other families would join in. New songs were learned and others were relived, all in all it was a positive, inspiring experience. In the first session there was a family project that was assigned to be done at home. This would instill family unity and a collaborative effort to work together for one common goal. The Family Coat of Arms had to be constructed and you were instructed to be creative as you wanted to be. This project consisted of the coat of arms bearing the family name, family song, family motto and a family crest which displayed family activities, involvement in the community and various pictures of the family engaged in togetherness. At the end of the session each family had to present their coat of arms, explain the details and sing the family song. What an awesome experience!!! Tisha Alexander said her daughter Tiara was reluctant to attend the first Family-to-Family session and after the first night she really enjoyed it. Tisha said Tiara would rush her out of the house and tell her they would be late if they didn’t hurry. Andrea McPherson of Manalapan who regularly attends St James with her family attended the second session which began in September, she said; “The Family to Family program provided a great outlet to foster communication in the family. As the weeks progressed, it was amazing to see my children anticipate the sessions and rush us out of the house to get there on time. Even more amazing was the fact that my husband, who is not much of a talker, participated and led many of the discussions and dialogue. The program also allowed families to come together and fellowship with other families in the area. In this age where many of us don’t know our neighbors, the program provided a great opportunity to not just meet other people from the area, but to learn communication and coping techniques that will help all of us in our everyday lives.” The trained facilitator Marie Kinsella who drove from Paterson became a part of the families in attendance at both sessions. She was truly a delight and I never missed a session with her. Upon completing the program each family is given a total of $100.00 in gift cards. Not bad for an educational experience!! Based on the website the long-term benefit of Project Rebuild is to create and sustain a process for re-knitting the social networks that decades of neglect, abandonment, crime and ill health have destroyed. Rebuild aims to treat the “whole family”, not just the symptoms, by imparting on its families a solid sense of self worth and providing them a strong educational foundation from which to build. Rebuild’s core belief is that a union of heart, mind and body is key to eradicating crime, domestic and sexual abuse, addiction and homelessness. For more information on Project Rebuild- Family-to-Family please go to http://


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FIRST EPISCOPAL DISTRICT 17th ANNUAL CHURCH SCHOOL SEMINAR By Ann White-Sims - Church School Superintendent - First Episcopal District On Saturday, October 23, 2010, we celebrated our 17th Annual Seminar and Luncheon at Mt. Tabor A.M.E. Church, host Pastor, Rev. Martha Lang and Sis. Jeanne Chavious, the host superintendent. Our theme, “Going Fishing…Using the Right Equipment, Fishing in Strange Waters and Keeping the Catch.” We began our day with devotion provided by the Bermuda Conference Praise Team rendering invigorating music and powerful testimonies to the glory of God. We were ready for our enrollment at the Empowerment Institute of Fishing to be instructed by the renown Rev. Melvin E. Wilson, Pastor of St. Luke AME Church in Harlem, NY, who brought a powerful Meditation, entitled “Whatever You Are Doing for the Lord, You Can Do More Than That.” His message set us in motion to “Go Fishing” for souls. He lifted up several key points: In order to Catch Fish, you must make a conscious decision to go fishing. The Fishing Ministry has to be in partnership with others, it is not a solo expedition. You must be prepared to catch nothing (i.e., rejection, failure, opposition, etc.) The time that you go fishing makes a difference Be prepared to change your position (using different methods/techniques) embrace new technology and visuals. You need to ask the Lord for strength and endurance in the Fishing Ministry. Rev. Wilson did an analysis of the twelve disciples to show that we as Christians are not perfect and we all come from different walks of life. He told us that the disciples had issues, and their issues had issues just like us lying, stealing, a lot of negative vices, but Jesus caught them, taught them and then commissioned them to become fishers of men. So following Jesus’ example, we must adamantly fish for those who are lost, despondent and in need of a Savior. Operating in the old mediocre methods will not suffice in our world today. When Rev. Wilson concluded his thought provoking message, we knew that we had to change our methods of evangelizing for the Lord and we were motivated “To Go Fishing.” As we journeyed to another area at the Empowerment Institute of Fishing, Professor, Rev. Alberta Jones, the dynamic Pastor of Mt. Zion A.M.E. – Darby, PA took us to the Preparation Room to be fitted for with “The Right Equipment” for Preparation.” Step I: Check the Equipment - She displayed the proper fishing gear: Net, Bait, Rod, Reel, Line, Sinker, Hook and the right clothes, she even had her fishing boots (i.e., you can’t go fishing in Stilettos or Sean John shoes, you need walking shoes, you might have to walk in some mud). She emphasized that for Spiritual Fishing, you have to: Put on the Whole Armor of God, the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, Footgear – readiness to spread the Good News, Shield of faith, the Helmet of Salvation and the Sword which is the Word of God. You must have excitement/enthusiasm, tracks/literature and; most of all; A Thinking Process (It’s not about you, it’s about others. “Each of you should look not only to your own interest but also to the interest of others.” Step 2: Are You Ready? – Now it’s time to get in the Boat. Be sure of your own Salvation, know what you believe; know how to share your story – Your best witnessing tool is the simple story of how Jesus saved you and changed your life. Pray and Fast Understand your target – Review the habits of the people and the physical environment you plan to fish in. What direction – Where to go first – use your spiritual Global Positioning System (GPS) = God Step 3: Let Down Your Nets – Drop the Line. Handle your prospects carefully, never force, but invite; meet people where they are at, show respect; wait they will come – while you wait pray that the fish will come. Do not lose sight of the mission which is Soul winning. We then left the Equipment Room and proceeded down to the shores, where the Captain of Fishing, the dynamic Rev. Alexander Smith, Pastor - Heard A.M.E. Church – Pembroke, Bermuda was waiting for us. He had just crossed the Bermudian waters to instruct us on “Fishing in Strange Waters,” which no doubt he had qualified experience. Rev. Smith took us through some rigorous training exercises. We had to name some strange places to go fishing (drug areas, medical facilities, senior citizen centers, your family, vacation spots, recreation rooms, hair salons, barber shops, outlets, sporting events, etc.) We had an intense role playing segment, fishing to win the souls of two sisters leaving the night club. The sisters were defiant and strong willed, but the fishermen were persistent, empowered with the Word of God and secured in their faith that the prospects finally relented and accepted Jesus as their personal Savior. He asked us to remember the following: While most people don’t like to be in a crowded environment, it also true that they will come where they can be fed, spiritually, emotionally, and socially. Jesus said, Feed My Sheep. People who are starving in the natural, will walk for days to get even the smallest amount of food or water, the same should apply to the spiritual needs of others. This generation is looking for the things that will feed their spirits, their hungry souls; they are willing to buy into anything that will keep their children from being on drugs, overdosing or suicide. They are looking for the church that can show them the God who truly loves them in spite of their shortcomings and mistakes. THEY ARE HUNGRY, FEED THEM. Embarking from the boat and stepping onto the shores with our catch, the Director of Keeping Souls Ministry, the anointed Rev. Paul J. Thomas, Pastor – New Bethel A.M.E. – Willow Grove, PA admonished us on “Keeping the Catch, touching Hearts and Telling the World.” Rev. Thomas briefly reviewed our previous courses and said the most important aspect of fishing is not just in the catching, but in the keeping. He imparted the message of “Avoiding Abortion, Fulfilling My Purpose.” Keeping the Catch - He told us that: Keeping the Catch is a difficult area; you need some stick-to-it-ness. Stop the Revolving Door Process in our Churches; fulfill our purpose; keep from losing people. How do we loose the catch? What causes people to move from the entrance to the exit? Non-friendly, self preservation, no sense of belonging, dissention, divisiveness, gapping holes in our ministry and ungodliness in the Church and among the members. What causes people to stay? Involvement, making room and training them, a living Church – Jerm. 29 Touching Hearts Engage the things people are going through. “Out of the heart flows the cares of Life” If we engage a person’s care, we set up residency in their lives. The ministry is a visible presence in the individual’s life. Telling the World Stirred emotions result in the spreading of the gospel; stirred emotion serve as a motivational factor; What are we sharing: - The Gospel of Jesus Christ and Hope. We had a Holy Ghost mountain top experience and we were blessed tremendously through the teaching of God’s Word and we are so excited about “Going Fishing.” We closed the day with the “Ultimate Praise Mime Group” giving honor and praise to our God for an awesome day in the Lord. We were told that this was one of the most Spiritual Seminars in the history of the 1st District Church School. To God be the glory…great things He has done! Our heartfelt thanks to Rev. Martha Lang, and the hospitable Mt. Tabor A.M.E. Church Family for opening your doors annually to the 1st District Church School. We are appreciative of your kindness and generosity. 2010 Awards: Rev. Martha Lang was honored with the “Pastoral Award”; Sis. Yvondria Thomas – WNY – “Superintendent of the Year”; Sis. Alvenia Hamlin - DE - “Teachers of the Year; and Ultimate Praise – Mt. Tabor AME - “Youth Award for Creative Arts.” We extend special thanks to Bishop Norris, our Chief Superintendent, for the opportunity of serving this great Episcopal District. Our heartfelt thanks to our Messenger, Rev. Melvin Wilson, our facilitators: Rev. Alberta Jones, Rev. Alexander Smith, Rev. Paul Thomas, the Presiding Elders, Pastors, Ministers, District/Conference Component Divisions, and to each member of the 1st Episcopal District for your support. To Rev. Dr. Earl Jefferson, our 1st District Christian Education Director, Rev. Jay Broadnax, our District Chairman, thank you for your encouragement and for providing support to the 1st District Church School. Last but not least, thank you to “The Magnificent 7” the finest group of Conference Church School Superintendents (Sis. Christine Powell, Sis. Nadine Lapsley Dyer, Sis. Jeanne Chavious, Sis. Barbara Lash, Sis. Carolyn Williams, Bro. Samuel Jones and Rev. Roger Sawtelle) in African Methodism and the Church School Council members for their diligence and perseverance, they are true Fishers of Men and Women. Special recognition to Sister Cheryl Ford, for so beautifully capturing our theme on the Souvenir Journals.


The children were selected according to family need and were told they were volunteering in a community service project to help needy children. After successfully building the bikes, the children were given a huge surprise. They were told they actually get to keep the new bicycle. While the Build-a-Bike Workshop was a lesson on teamwork and community involvement for the children, it was also a lesson on giving back for the adults. The workshop kicks-off Mother Bethel’s new mentoring program.

THE D’BRICKASHAW FERGUSON FOUNDATION AND MOTHER BETHEL AME CHURCH, co-hosted a Build-a-Bike Workshop for children in the Philadelphia community on Saturday December 11, 2010 at 10am at Mother Bethel. Nine school aged children, age 9 through 12, built brand new 15-speed bicycles with parts donated by the D’Brickashaw Ferguson Foundation ( “

“The AME Church has partnered with Big Brothers and Big Sisters to underscore the importance of mentoring young children,” says Rev. Mark Tyler, Pastor of Mother Bethel. “By working with the D’Brickashaw Ferguson Foundation, we are able to make a difference in the lives of children in need right in time for the holidays.” The motto for the D’Brickashaw Ferguson Foundation is “building communities one brick at a time.” The Foundation, among other things, awards academic scholarships to students across the country. It also gives grants to churches to maintain edifices. Supporting Mother Bethel’s Build-a-Bike mentoring program is another brick in the community building.

A new bicycle is on almost every child’s wish list,” says D’Brickashaw Ferguson. “Unfortunately, in these tough economic times, every parent can’t afford to buy their child a new bike. We are happy to be able to make a few wishes become reality.” The kids built the bikes with help from adult volunteers from Mother Bethel AME Church ( and board members from the D’Brickashaw Ferguson Foundation. Bishop Jeffrey N. Leath, Presiding Prelate of the 19th Episcopal District, is a member of the Foundation Board of Directors and helped the children build their bikes. Bishop Leath also provided the invocation.

“We’re excited about partnering with Mother Bethel and helping families in need at Christmas,” says Ed Ferguson, D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s father and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Foundation. “’Showing God’s love in action’ is a part of the foundation’s mission statement. Having mentors and children working together in this Build-a-Bike workshop is evidence of His love.” Mr. Ferguson is also an officer and member of Mother Bethel AME Church. In addition to the surprise, free, new bicycle the children also received a bike safety seminar, a free helmet and bike safety tips from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Pictures from the event are online at


Metropolitan AME Church of Lansdowne PA, officers and members joined pastor Clarence A. Martin Sr. in wishing Sis. Susie C. Myers a happy birthday at the Bala Manor where she currently resides. Cake, ice cream, a faithful church family, clear thought, and a feeling of blessedness brought tears to the eyes of Mrs. Myers. She reflected about how the Lord has blessed her, the historical events she has witnessed, the joy her church family brings to her life, and her family memories. Sister Myers served in several church positions prior to her failing health, and was well known for her peach cobbler. She states that, although she has seen a lot, she never thought that an African American would be elected President of the United States.

First District Flame - Spring 2011 Edition  

Spring 2011 Edition of The First District Flame

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