The Black male–female relationship and all its nuances will be discussed next Tuesday, Jan. 31, at WPEB 88.1 FM. The participants will transform the radio station into an informal kitchen table and offer their solutions as to rectifying what they perceive to be the chasms of dysfunction in the African-American community.
Kevin Sheaff organized the 6 p.m. sit-down to discuss the breakdown in Black male and female relationships. It was his belief that it has led to fatherless homes, disease and fewer Blacks getting married.
“If you really look at the nucleus that comes out of the disorder in our Black community,” he said. “It comes as a result of the breakdown in family structure.”
Sheaff, whose ministry is active in strengthening relationships, expounded on what he believed has led to this point.
“There is a lot that needs to be done in terms of the disconnect between Black males and females,” he said. “What we have in our society is that you have a lot of Black males who are not interested in getting married. They’re just interested in … existing day to day. They don’t have commitment on their minds.
“As a result, this leads a lot of women [to become] very bitter — and also in many of our cities, there’s a rampant surge of HIV, AIDS and all kinds of sexual diseases,” Sheaff added. “You have a lot of Black women that are heading single homes and that are raising males and females by themselves with no help in sight.”
Bernard Spate, who is an elder at Victory Christian Church, is among those Sheaff approached to help steer the discussion.
“The problem is that we’re just not of one accord,” he said. “A lot of times we have to be able to take personal inventory of our own selves before we connect with someone — and the women have to do the same thing. We have to know where we are at the time of courtship, companionship or even marital status.”
Spate said it was important for both men and women to take personal inventory, to turn weaknesses into strengths.
“A lot of our Black men today, they’re very bitter and they’re very angry at a lot of things that have taken place, and they’ve taken to the streets,” he said. “The women are the same way. It’s gotten worse with the women. The men were the first, and now it’s the women. We’ve lost focus, and we have to get that back and get centered on what’s most important — and that’s realizing and understanding what purpose we need to fulfill.”
Prophetess Chantell Ellis will be the only female during the one-hour call-in exchange. She is mindful of her lone feminine voice and felt she could tap into some of the feelings that some women share.
“Women have had to be strong and raise families, and so we tend to take on that headship, but at the same time, if women aren’t careful, they can also devalue the men that come into our lives,” Ellis said.
She was hopeful for positive feedback.
“I know it’s a subject that will go forever, but just looking at it from my perspective, from women that I’ve had the opportunity to meet, and hear their stories and have shared those stories, for the most part, women want to be loved,” Ellis said. “They want to be honored and respected. They want to be taken care of, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I think that any man that comes into a woman’s life [does so] because he desires to … complement her, but also that individual has to be whole with themselves.”
Spate wanted to collaborate with Ellis on future initiatives concerning the matter while Sheaff was eager to begin implementing skills that men and women can use to build better relationships.
“One of the things that I hope will come out of this initiative is teaching Black males how to express themselves and express their feelings and how to express their fears,” he said.
Sheaff also relayed advice to women.
“A lot of them put a lot of pride in the outward exterior,” he said. “So, they’ll buy very expensive designer clothes, boots, expensive hairstyles, etc. because they’re trying to create an image and also try to attract a man.
“So much of it ties into how they look, but if we can address to our sisters that it’s what is inside that is most important, then what starts to develop is a dialogue between both the male and the female, and they can look past the outer stuff and start looking at the inward stuff,” Sheaff added.
The one-hour radio appearance begins at 6 p.m. The on-air call line number for WPEB 88.1 FM is (215) 472-0882.
Mount Carmel Baptist is a unique church with a long history. Organized in 1882, Mount Carmel has been a positive and impactful presence in the West Philadelphia community for 119 years. Recently, the congregation celebrated the Rev. Dr. Albert F. Campbell’s 46th anniversary as senior pastor, a joyous milestone indeed.
“I’m very glad to be a part of this anniversary (celebration),” said Robert Taylor, a proud 30-plus-year member of Mount Carmel. Of Campbell, Taylor, a native Jamaican, shared this heartfelt sentiment, “A very good man, and I hope that (he) continues in God’s vision. … God bless you, God loves you, and so do I.”
Anthonia Benson, the wife of the Rev. Kyle Benson, associate minister at Mount Carmel, was elated about the celebration of Campbell. She fellowships at another church, but offered a very personal and warm kudos for him: “We just want to say, congratulations (to Pastor Campbell), it’s been a wonderful 46 years … we love (him) dearly. May God strengthen (him) and Mrs. Campbell and their entire family.” Campbell married the Bensons on Dec. 19, 2010, and their 2-year-old daughter Cassandra was blessed by him.
“Well, he has been the only pastor since I’ve been here. He’s my dad, he’s my big brother,” shared Robert L. Boston, 59, a member of Mount Carmel for 32 years. Boston operates a limo service, and as a gift to honor his pastor’s anniversary, Boston chauffeured the Rev. and Mrs. Campbell around for the day.
Campbell’s impact on Boston has been profound. He works on security at the church, he’s an usher and serves as a trustee, He said the pastor “knows that the Lord has called me to serve, and he allows me to serve in my space.” Boston was recently recognized as trustee emeritus, the youngest in Mount Carmel’s history. He has faithfully served as a trustee for 24 years. Boston relishes the fact that Mount Carmel is a very community-focused church, “We are a community-based church. We’re here for the community … we have … programs for the community.” Along with its strong community programs, Mount Carmel’s church mission is to “Teach, Preach, and Interpret the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“I’ve been a member of Mount Carmel for 65 years,” said Barbara Benson, a stately and genial woman, and the mother-in-law of Anthonia Benson She had very kind words to share about Campbell, “He is a very gracious man, I like how he relates to his parishioners … he is a man of God, and I have learned to love him so much in all these years.” She admires Campbell’s love for children, “He just loves young people, and his interaction with them is really beautiful to see.” Barbara Benson has a servant-leader’s heart, and has a history of serving in a variety of roles with the church; she’s been on the scholarship committee, she sings in the choir, she sometimes teaches Sunday school, “And whatever I’m called on to do, if the pastor asks me, I try to do it.”
Elizabeth Parker, a member since 1950, is the Sunday administrator for Mount Carmel. She offered the following comments about Campbell’s pastoral anniversary celebration: “It’s awesome. We are so blessed to have a pastor like Pastor Campbell … he’s an all-around (good) person.” Reflecting on Campbell’s greatest attributes, Parker, originally from North Carolina, said, “I think the great impact he’s made is his ability to communicate with all ages, from two-years-old, teenagers, seniors, he can relate to all of them.” She laughs when she quips, “I’ve come through all those stages with him.”
Jabrell Thomas, 21, a member for 19 years, said, “It’s good to see that Pastor Campbell being consistent, because so many other churches are going through pastor-to-pastor. It’s good that we can have one pastor to rely on, we can grow with him. He has a lot of personal relationships with his members … he definitely reaches out to people of all ages.” Jabrell’s ministry activism has included the youth basketball team, youth ministry, and the young people’s ushers. He is a senior at Lock Haven University.
“It is amazing to me, I had no idea that my tenure here would last this long,” said the Rev. Albert Franklin Campbell. An erudite and very eloquent man, Campbell, 79, possesses the friendly and endearing charisma of a favorite uncle, a jolly grandfather or loving father figure.
A native of Kansas, Campbell grew up in Colorado, where he met and married his wife Ruth. The Campbells will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary on July 6.
Mount Carmel is Campbell’s second pastorate. “My first pastorate was of the Beulah Baptist Church in Central Harlem, on 130th Street between Lenox and Seventh avenues. He was pastor at Beulah for five and a half years before being called to Mount Carmel in 1966.
Reflecting on his 46-year tenure at Mount Carmel, Campbell remarked, “Well, I think I have set some standards of love for people, and genuine concern for people, and also a few standards in terms of academic achievement.” He is a strong advocate of pastors attending college and seminary, “(Seminary is) where they can get the training I feel, is needed, especially now, in this day and age.”
Commenting on the mix of youths and seniors within his congregation, Campbell said, “I have made it a point of trying to have an inter-generational ministry, and that requires me to relate to seniors as well as the youngsters, and I’ve consciously tried to do that. It seems to have worked for me.” Of mentoring other pastors, he said, “I have had the privilege of licensing and ordaining a number of preachers here at Mount Carmel, and I tell them the same thing … they cannot pastor people without loving people.”
“He’s a caring preacher … for a preacher to stay here this long really means a lot, he’s here for the people,” said Edward Robinson, an usher and member since 1989. Robinson considers Campbell a “preacher’s preacher” He admires how Campbell has mentored so many preachers during his 46-year tenure. Robinson’s mother was responsible for introducing him to the Mount Carmel. “I really love it here,” he concluded.
Bishop Keith Reed Sr., senior pastor of Sharon Baptist Church, was the guest preacher for Campbell’s pastoral anniversary service on May 27. After the sermon, Reed offered endearing and Biblical words of encouragement to Campbell, his friend and fellow clergyman, “To Pastor Campbell, I pray that God continues to bless you. Be encouraged, and don’t grow weary in well-doing, you know you’ll reap if you faint not.”
Stress is a part of life. It is one of the major factors that cause strokes, heart attacks and other illnesses. I have said on many occasions that the cliché “too blessed to be stressed” sounds good, but in reality no matter how blessed we are, we still have stress in our lives.
A few stress factors in our lives are: how our bills will be paid; broken relationships; health problems; troubled marriages and raising children. Now if that is not enough, think about the stress that comes in leadership, in pastoring people, and in serving in a ministry; they all bring challenges. It is important for us to accept the fact that a certain amount of change and crisis is an essential part of life.
We need to be honest with ourselves and with God about our ability to deal with stress. One of the things we can do is identify how we can draw on our faith when dealing with stress. Take the time to see how the hand of God has been evident in your life.
I believe it is important for us to have a frame of reference so we can look back over our lives and see how God has helped us deal with stressful situations. Remember, every day is a gift from God. Use each day to the fullest; learn to live, to laugh and to love, as these virtues will help reduce the stress in your life.
Allow God to speak to you and recognize that His Word is true, for in Romans 8:28 we read, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose.” That is not to say that everything bad that happens in life is good, but something good can come out of it. Trust God and acknowledge that you need him to help you cope when stress becomes overwhelming.
Our faith can carry us through the trying times, and our trust in God can lead us to a richer, fuller life giving us balance and hope. Take a few moments each day and spend quiet time with God, focusing on him and his ability to carry you through. Nothing is greater in life than our faith in God. It puts everything into a spiritual focus. We do not have to be in denial when stress comes our way; we can just trust God.
Whenever you are overwhelmed by a stressful situation, turn to God. Prayer can lighten your load, and know that through the power of prayer, stress can be transformed into joy and peace. Just remember, that when stress comes your way, you are not alone, God is there, and many others are going through some of the same stressful situations you are.
Let me assure you, I am not speaking in theory, and like many others, have had some stressful situations in my life. I can’t even begin to record them, but know that I am grateful to God that under the heavy weight of stress, his amazing grace kept me, when I could not even keep myself. He and he alone was there to help me, and I am a living witness that through faith he can handle whatever stress comes in your life. Don’t let stress handle you; let your faith handle stress. Your life will be enhanced, you will live longer, and God will get the glory.
Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy wrote these profound words, “I have come to the conclusion that the most important element of human life is faith.” From faith, and through it, we come to a new understanding of ourselves and the world about us. It puts everything into a spiritual focus…so that love and joy and happiness, along with worry, sorrow and loss, become a part of a large picture, which extends far beyond time and space.
The Rev. Charles W. Quann is the senior pastor of the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Penllyn and Spring House.
On Jan. 14, several hundred ministry leaders and a virtual Who’s Who roster of local pastoral leaders gathered at Wayland Temple Baptist Church, 2500 Cecil B. Moore Ave. in North Philadelphia, to celebrate the 2013 Installation Service of Baptist Pastors & Ministers Conference of Philadelphia & Vicinity. The Rev. Robert J. Lovett, Sr. is the senior pastor of Wayland Temple and was the host pastor for the installation service.
The Baptist Pastors and Ministers Conference of Philadelphia & Vicinity was organized to provide peer fellowship for pastors throughout the City of Philadelphia and vicinity.
Several hundred lay leaders, church officers and pastors turned out to bare witness to VIP clergy being installed as executive officers and cabinet members of the 2013 Pastors & Ministers Conference of Philadelphia & Vicinity, those installed included:
- Rev. Harry Davis, Sr., President
- Rev. Robert V. Shipman, Sr., First Vice President
- Bishop Raymond D. Sutton, II, Second Vice President
- Rev. Dr. Rodney King, Recording Secretary
- Rev. Johnson Waller, Jr., Assistant Recording Secretary
- Rev. Darrien A. Brown, Treasurer
- Rev. Patricia Roane, Financial Secretary
- Rev. Antonio McAllister, Auditor
- Rev. Nathaniel R. Walker, Sr., Counselor
- Rev. John E. Douglas, Statistician
- Rev. Kristopher Reese, Custodian of Records
- Rev. Dr. Marsha Woodard, Reporter
The Rev. Albert G. Davis, Pastor-Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, in Ardmore is a former officer of the Baptist Pastors & Ministers Conference of Philadelphia & Vicinity who offered some history about the organization.
“I’m a past President of this Conference,” he said. “Historically, we merged two Conferences together, the Baptist Ministers Conference and the Pastors Conference, two years ago. The Rev. Harry Davis was part of the Baptist Pastors Conference. We took two conferences and merged them into one. Historically, this [organization] is the voice Black community.”
The Rev. Joseph E. Daniels, Pastor-Emanuel Institutional Baptist Church, 1730 N. 22nd St. was an exuberant attendee.
“I’m here because I am supportive of the conference and of the incoming president [Rev. Harry Davis, Sr.],” he said. “And during the Conference, I’m one of the featured teachers that delivers the Sunday School lesson every week.”
“Tonight, we are installing our new officers in the Baptist ministers and pastors conference. Pastor Harry Davis takes over as the president for this year. My role is to be one of the Presiding Worship Leaders in the service tonight. So, I’m looking forward to participating and supporting him,” said the Rev. Scott C. Dorsey, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Holmsburg.
“[Davis] has been a strong supporter of all the presidents throughout our history, and now it is our time to support him,” said Dorsey. “My role tonight is to lead in the installation part of the service.”
A few of the numerous ministry leaders and lay leaders in attendance included: Clara Copeland, trustee-Greater Enon Missionary Baptist Church; Mrs. Pruden Harvey, vice president-Ministers Wives and Widows Ministry of the Pennsylvania Baptist State Convention; the Rev. Dr. Malcolm T. Byrd, Director-Faith Based Initiatives/Mayor’s Office-City of Philadelphia; the Rev. Dr. James Hall, Pastor-Triumph Baptist Church and the Rev. Dr. Wendell Mapson, Jr., Pastor-Monumental Baptist Church.
The former presidents (living and deceased) of the Missionary Baptist Pastors & Baptist Ministers Conferences are: the Rev. Claude Ashe; the Rev. Anthony Floyd; the Rev. Clarence Green; the Rev. James Christmas, Sr.; Dr. James S. Hall, Jr.; the Rev. Ronald King Hill; the Rev. W. Gregory Fleming; Dr. William J. Shaw; the Rev. Joseph C. Fuller Jr.; the Rev. J. W. Witherspoon; Dr. Arthur R. White; the Rev. Guy Campbell, Jr., Dr. James S. Allen, Sr.; the Rev. James Moore, Sr.; the Rev. Albert G. Davis, Jr.; the Rev. Larry Marcus; the Rev. Harry E. Bronson; Dr. Wendell Mapson, Jr. and the Rev. Harry Moore, Sr. It should be noted that Hall served as president of both conferences.
Some of the scheduled speakers for the evening included the Rev. Dr. Damone B. Jones, Sr., Bible Way Baptist Church & Moderator-Pennsylvania Eastern Keystone Baptist Association; the Rev. Dr. Terrence Griffith, President-Black Clergy of Philadelphia & Pastor-First African Baptist Church; and the Rev. William B. Moore, Pastor-Tenth Memorial Baptist Church & Board Chairman-Foreign Mission Board, National Baptist Convention USA, Inc.
The keynote preacher that delivered the evening’s sermon was the Rev. Harry Davis, Sr., Pastor-Christian Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church & President-Baptist Pastors & Ministers Conference of Philadelphia & Vicinity.
Former Presidents of the Baptist Pastors and Ministers Conference of Philadelphia & Vicinity include: the Rev. Nathaniel R. Walker, Sr. (2011) and Dr. G. Daniel Jones (2012).
Reflecting on Davis’ leadership as the incoming president, Dorsey said, “He’s humble, he’s a servant of the Lord, and he works very hard in supporting everybody – he’s a guy that has supported everybody fairly and equally.”
President Barack Obama recently expressed his support and endorsement of same-sex marriage. This is the first time that a sitting United States president has affirmed marriage between persons of the same sex. President Obama’s decision to support gay marriage is not only historic, but also demonstrates his commitment to ensuring that all Americans are treated equally under the law. All American citizens, including persons like myself who maintain the traditional, Biblical view that marriage is “between a man and a woman,” should respect the president for taking such a courageous stance on such a very sensitive and political issue.
I share the aforementioned because Obama is not a pastor. He is a political leader. He is the president of the heterosexual and homosexual, the rich and poor, Black and white, Christian and non-Christian. He has to make decisions that he believes are in the best interests of all Americans, so as to maintain every citizen’s Constitutional rights.
Given these parameters, his recently articulated position on gay marriage should come as no surprise. The debate on same-sex marriage or civil unions is not new to Americans, its presidents or religious institutions. To date, same-sex marriage/civil unions have passed in six states (Iowa, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Connecticut) as well as in the District of Columbia. It will be legal in Washington state effective June 7, 2012, and in Maryland effective Jan. 1, 2013. In addition, 31 states (including Pennsylvania) have already banned same-sex marriage. The reality is that this is still very much a state-to-state issue rather than a federal issue. There is no federal legislative foundation supporting same-sex marriage. The president’s position does not make it law.
Moreover, the issue that is at the crux of this debate, and is often overlooked by those for and against gay marriage, is: How can we maintain the separation of church and state while giving individuals freewill to be in committed, monogamous, legal relationships that are heterosexual or homosexual? That’s the real dilemma we, as Americans, must resolve.
As an ordained minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I am called to love all persons regardless of one’s sexual orientation, race, gender, class or pedigree. Anyone who comes to Bright Hope Baptist Church will concur that I make every effort to make every worshipper feel welcomed in God’s house. I do not judge, lest I be judged. I do not condemn, lest I be condemned.
However, as the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:16, “Woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.” I cannot and will not abdicate this responsibility. As a pastor, it is my responsibility and obligation to exhort the teachings of the Bible, including the Biblical principal that defines marriage as being “between a man and a woman.” And while I have never made a big issue of homosexuality in the church, everyone who attends Bright Hope knows where I stand and that I firmly maintain and uphold the Biblical definition of marriage “between a man and woman.”
Given my beliefs on marriage and Obama’s beliefs on it, one may ask: “Can a Biblically-based pastor support the president’s recent decision while also maintaining one’s religious belief?” My answer is “yes.” People of faith can still believe in the Constitution of the United States of America and still maintain their religious convictions and beliefs.
Certainly, the religious right would have us to believe that this is not possible — that people of faith have to choose between their faith and what is constitutionally right. I beg to differ. I believe one can be governed by and maintain one’s religious beliefs while also living in a democratically governed, and pluralistic society.
Indeed, that is what makes America so great — that we can live in harmony with others even if we do not agree with their politics, faith, beliefs or decisions. If a group of individuals’ goal is to legislate faith in America, then maybe they should consider moving to a religiously governed society. However, if they choose to live in America, then they must understand the tenets of democracy and how it allows for individuals to co-exist even when there are major differences and beliefs amongst them.
Lastly, while Obama and I share different opinions on how the “institution of marriage” is defined, I nevertheless support his effort to advance human and civil rights for all. If the president’s recent position on same sex unions will 1) affirm the separation of church and state and 2) allow for religious leaders to not be criminalized or prosecuted because they hold firmly to their religious beliefs that “marriage is between a man and woman,” and therefore are not forced to perform such ceremonies in their religious organizations, then I can support him. I support the president not because he and I agree on same sex marriage — we do not and never will — but rather I support his efforts to bring equality of human and civil rights to all Americans, which is President Obama’s obligation as the leader of the United States of America.
Anyone who understands the importance of the separation of church and state in American history will have to agree that one can support civil laws for same sex unions as long as they do not infringe upon the rights and freedoms on religious institutions. Both can co-exist just as Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and other believers co-exist and practice their religious beliefs in America. We are Americans and live in a pluralistic, democratically governed society. We must find a way to affirm one another’s individual beliefs even if we do not agree with them. We have done so in the past and can do so in the future.
Reverend Kevin R. Johnson, Ed.D. is senior pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church.
Have you succumbed to the notion yet that prayer will get you through it? The “it” I’m referring to is everything. If you’re like me then the truth is at times you’re not very enthusiastic about your faith. That fire that initially burned in me when I finally met Christ leaves me more cold than hot and I cannot and do not remain constant or consistent in my journey towards eternal salvation, Have you ever been there?
Even my prayer life is more often weak than strong. I’ve finally figured out at times like these that if I only do one thing, I have to continue to pray. However casual or cavalier I might think it is, if I do nothing else, I’ve learned that I’ve got to pray my way through it.
If you’ve ever been lost on a nameless highway and know that you’re lost, you probably understand what I’m talking about. No exit, no gas stations, no people or other cars around, no one to ask for directions. You just keep driving and you just keep looking. It’s just you and the needle on the fuel gauge. Given your and my circumstances, prayer is probably very appropriate when one is spiritually lost; especially when you are forced to acknowledge that you are lost. My word to you is to just keep praying.
At this stage of my spiritual development, I can’t think of an alternative. I just happened to look up prayer in my Bible’s Concordance and found out that I’m correct in my assumption that prayer(s), pray(ed), praying, all hold a special place in spiritual history and in the eyes of God. For every quote I could give you right now, there are many of you who could quote at least three more appropriate ones for this message. James 5:15–16: “And prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you might be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
I will not sit here and profess to you to be a righteous man. What I will do is to profess to you and anyone who will listen that I am a sinner seeking God’s forgiveness. I am also on record as praying for you, my fellow man, that you too, will understand God’s faithfulness. Mark 11:24–25: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” I’m not making this up. This is what the text says. Hopefully, what I’m trying to convey to you is once I was lost. I’m sure I’ll get lost again and when it happens, prayer will continue to lead me home. It is an irrefutable spiritual fact. Try it. Speak to God from your heart. Let him know that you know he knows you are lost. He will then step up and act out on your behalf, proclaiming for all to see that you are never really lost. He has known where you were from the beginning of time.
May God bless and keep you always.
For the past several months, I have been preaching a series of sermons from the book sub-titled “Break Free From the Bondage of your Past”: Joyce Meyer, by Richard Young. Also in this series I refer to Bishop T.D. Jakes’ book entitled, “Let It Go.”
In each of these books, the author talks about the need to get rid of excess baggage as well as the importance of forgiving, so that we can be forgiven. I would argue strongly, many of us cannot really enjoy life because we are still carrying yesterday’s hurts, mistakes and past failures. We will never experience the real joy of life until we let go and move forward in our lives. As pastor of the Bethlehem Baptist Church for more than 25 years, I have encountered many people who are stuck in the past. They have become angry, mean-spirited, have little or no self-esteem, and blame everyone else for their troubles.
I do not know how many people have been helped by these sermons, but I can honestly say these books have helped me to let go of some things. I believe in being transparent and vulnerable in sharing my own journey. Nothing is gained by holding on to yesterday. Bishop Jakes writes in his book, “We cannot embrace God’s forgiveness if we are so busy clinging to past wounds, and nursing old grudges; in order to move into the blessings of our future, we must relinquish the pains of the past.”
Richard Young writes, “Who are you helping most when you forgive the person who hurt you? Actually, you are helping yourself more than the other person”. I always looked at forgiving people who hurt me as being really hard. It seemed so unfair for them to receive forgiveness when I had been hurt. I got pain and they got freedom, without having to pay for the pain they caused. I now realize I am helping myself when I choose to forgive.
There is so much truth in what these writers have to say. There is an art to forgiveness, and when you discover that art, you are able to “Break Free From The Bondage of your Past.” Our past experiences may have made us the way we are, but we don’t have to stay that way. There is a plaque on my desk I read daily which says, “Live, Laugh and Love.” You really can’t do that when you are bound or slave to the past. Every day is a good day; let yesterday be the past, for this is the day the Lord has made, and surely we can rejoice and be glad in it. You cannot rejoice being angry, holding a grudge or being resentful. Life will pass you by, and the people you are angry with will enjoy life while you wallow in your pity. Sometimes you must write off the past so you are available for the future. There is a portion of Scripture in James 1:2 that reads, “Count it all joy, when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience”.
I encourage you to approach each new day with trust and confidence in God. Do not worry about your enemy; according to the Word, he will make your enemy your footstool. Learn to live each day to the fullest and trust God completely. One of the blessings that come to mind is the opportunity to reflect upon my life’s journey. In the words of the songwriter, “God has been good to me; all of my good days outweigh my bad days, I won’t complain.” I have had enough setbacks and failures to be dependent on God, and enough blessings to trust in God. There were those who tried to block my blessings, but they only became steps for God to take me to a higher level.
I will use this column in the coming weeks to write this series of sermons I have preached on “Break Free From the Bondage of the Past.” I pray they will be a blessing to you.
Founded in 1966, Christian Stronghold Baptist Church has blossomed into a major spiritual center for Christian education, Christian counseling, Christian evangelism, family solidarity and solid Biblical preaching. Its founder and senior pastor, the Rev. Willie Richardson, has been called one of America’s top ministry educators and Christian counselors. He is a preacher with incredible integrity, and he was recently celebrated nationally as a “living legend” by his clergy peers.
Tawanda Barnes, 46, and David E. Barnes have been married for 26 years. They have three daughters: Elyse, 25, Jennifer, 22, and Alivia, 10. Marriage is sacred to Tawanda Barnes because both she and her husband grew up without their fathers.
“My husband and I both come from broken homes; neither one of us was raised by two parents,” she said. “We didn’t have our fathers’ impact. And so, through Pastor Richardson, he’s shown my husband how to be a leader, a father, and how to be a man of God and how to bring that into the family.”
She loves Richardson’s ministry because of his emphasis on family values and marriage.
“Without Jesus, we can’t do anything,” she said. “In a marriage it takes three, the husband, the wife and the Holy Spirit. Dr. Richardson has shown us all things are possible with Christ. He has been married for 50 years!”
David E. Barnes, 49, has been a member at Stronghold for approximately 17 years. “I am the director of the New Members Ministry.”
Reflecting on how he has spiritually grown as a husband and ministry leader at Christian Stronghold, he said, “The things that I’ve learned at Christian Stronghold pertain to how to treat my wife, such as honoring her, providing for her, encouraging her — these are some of the things that I have learned. And she’s been taught what to expect from me.”
“I’ve been a member since 1986,” said Rita Scarborough. The youth coordinator for special events,” she handles all the organization and coordination of youth events for the church. Scarborough, 46, was introduced to Christian Stronghold when she was invited by a friend to attend a drama ministry performance.
Of her and her husband Alphonso’s experience at Christian Stronghold, she said, “It’s an awesome ministry … It’s transformed our thinking on the Word of God, on how to apply the Scriptures in our own lives, and how to affect other people, as far as evangelism — salvation is for everyone.”
The Scarboroughs are the proud parents of two young girls, and the entire family fellowships at Christian Stronghold. They enjoy sharing the Word of God to impact the lives of others. The couple spent nine years in Egypt serving as missionaries.
Annette Hampton, Richardson’s sister, has been a member of Christian Stronghold for 46 years. She is the executive director of the Alpha Community Development Corp. “It’s our community outreach arm to the community,” she said.
Growing up having Richardson for a brother, Hampton said, “was a wonderful thing, he’s a very tender-hearted person.”
According to Hampton, “The church has always had an open door policy to serve the community.” In her role, she has oversight of the following outreach services:
- Family and Healthy Marriage
- Prison Re-entry
- Job Creation and Retention
- Community Economic Development
- Youth Services
Christian Stronghold has a strong youth ministry and youths in the community receive the same services that youth members of the church receive.
“I’m the chairperson of the Deacons Ministry at Christian Stronghold,” said Craig Browne, a retired Philadelphia and New Jersey educator. Browne has been a member of Christian Stronghold since 1977, and he has served as chair of the deacons for 20 years. For him, “Bringing others to the knowledge of Christ” is one of the greatest impacts he feels the church has had on families and the community.
Christian Stronghold is renowned for its focus on families. “Seeing families grow … Our pastor is very big on spiritually impacting families; as we impact families, we impact blocks, from there, certain sections of the city,” said Browne.
The Cell Church at Christian Stronghold has had “tremendous impact, for not only our church, but outside,” he said.
Cell Church is a concept that breaks a large congregation into many small groups for fellowship, Bible lessons, etc. It’s a great way for an extra-large congregation to maintain personal close connection with its congregants.
Also, according to Browne, the church has a successful Town Watch group, and hosts frequent community meetings with city officials and legislators for area residents.
Pastor Richardson is an accomplished author. He’s abounding with wisdom and is quite a visionary. A conversation with him is rich with valuable information and wise counsel. He is a very faith-driven man. He has an incredible testimony about overcoming prostate cancer and offers very insightful medical options for men afflicted with the disease.
Chatting about his ministry’s success, Richardson always deflects credit to God. He has a passion for loving the people in his community.
“We go to people, rather than waiting for people to come to church,” he said. “We’ve always been active in the neighborhood and the community, in reaching out to bring opportunities to people to people that don’t even belong to our church.”
In 2010, Richardson received the “Living Legend Award” during the E.K. Bailey International Expository Preaching Conference, in Dallas, Texas, one of the most popular national conferences for Baptist preachers in the country.
He is not conventional in thought.
“We’ve always done things outside the box,” he said, “and we’re still doing things outside the box.”
He’s been invited to the White House by several presidents to take part in various initiatives and events.
“And now I’m encouraging young folks in our church … to do things that nobody else is doing. (Christian Stronghold) has become a pacesetter for other churches, locally, and nationally,” he said. “I always believe that the Bible has some kind of principle to teach on every kind of problem.”
The small town of Media, Delaware County, population of 5,000+, boasts a few unique features: 40 percent of its residents (25 and older) are college educated, it is home-base for an abundance of law firms, and over 67 percent of the population is religiously affiliated.
Christ Christian Community Church is a proud member of Media’s long history of churches; its congregation is celebrating 50 years of spiritual service in the community and a new senior pastor, the Rev. Stacy King-Chaney.
Don’t let King-Chaney’s small frame fool you, she is a firebrand preacher who loves Jesus and she is intensely passionate about empowering youth to be leaders in the church.
“I was licensed to preach in 1991, by Rev. Dr. Albert F. Campbell (senior pastor of Mount Carmel Baptist Church, in Philadelphia).”
She grew up under Campbell’s mentorship, became a member of Mount Carmel at age 8, and she decided at age 16 that faith in Jesus would be her most important life decision; she was installed as the new senior pastor at Christ Christian Community Church in December 2010.
Some female pastors find it challenging serving in a traditionally male-dominated role. As an African American female, growing up in a racially charged community, King-Chaney has been tried and tested to handle life challenges.
She remarked about her childhood years, “Growing up in Aston, Pa., (my family and I) had some intense racial encounters, it wasn’t kind.”
She says her gender is not an issue in her ministry. In fact, King-Chaney holds to the wise counsel that her mentor, Campbell, gave her.
“The challenge (of gender) is only as great as you allow it to be,” she said. “I try not to get distracted, I don’t allow anyone to prevent me from (serving in) ministry.”
King-Chaney is the second pastor to shepherd Christ Christian Community Church, she succeeded the founder, Rev. R. Robert Barber, who died in January 2008. Barber served just shy of 50 years.
“My dad was the founder and senior pastor of the church for 49 years,” said Brenda Barber.
Brenda, 57, remains an active member and Trustee, and she is a staunch supporter of King-Chaney, Brenda offered this compliment, “(King-Chaney) is an amazing lady, she’s all about the community.”
Christ Christian Community Church is a small congregation that’s focused on God. King-Chaney’s focus on home missions and youth is evident. The youth lead in many aspect of the worship service: singing, praise dancing, prayer, reading scripture, ushering, etc.
King-Chaney has two other great supporters, her mother and father.
“If you’re looking for a spirit led church service, Christ Christian Community Church is a place to be,” remarked Allen King Sr., 78, about his daughter’s church. He holds dual membership and leadership roles at Mount Carmel Baptist Church and Christ Christian Community Church — he serves as a deacon at both congregations. He attends an early morning service at Mount Caramel and a later morning service at his daughter’s church to support her.
“Growing up, she was very much into the church. One day, I didn’t take her to church, and she cried and had a fit,” said Florastine Marie King, the proud mother.
King laughed as she recalled a time when her daughter approached her with some shocking news.
“At age 16, (my daughter) told me that the I wasn’t the most important person in her life anymore,” she said.
King thought that her daughter had gone crazy in love with some teen boy, “I was relieved when (my daughter) told me that Jesus was the number one love in her life.” King made a humorous comment that in the church, her daughter’s in charge, but outside the church, “She’s my daughter, and I’m the mother!”
King serves as a trustee at her daughter’s church, and is the proud grandmother of her daughter’s three girls: Mya, Jasmine and Imani.
“What I love most about my mom is that she loves working with youth,” shared Imani, 17, an 11th-grade honor student, attending Delaware County Christian School. Imani continued, “(Christ Christian Community Church) is a very welcoming place, and you feel very connected. At Christ Christian Community Church, you don’t have to worry about feeling judged.”
The casual dress code seems to impress Imani and her peers. After high school graduation, Imani aspires to attend Harvard University, Georgetown University or Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Cecelia “Cece” Thompson, 13, an 8th-grade honor student at Mastery Charter School, in Philadelphia, attends Christ Christian Community Church regularly.
According to Cece, “We (young leaders) are the main part of the church, we have an opportunity to lead.” Cece aspires to become a math teacher.
“We’re a small church, but we think big … I enjoy myself,” explained Lisa Wittington. She serves as youth director, Sunday school instructor and church secretary. Wittington is an accounting student at Widener University.
She is very excited about working with the youth. In 2012, the youth will spend time learning about Native Americans, and in 2013, the youth will participate in a missions trip to an Indian reservation in North Carolina to render ministry services to those less fortunate.
“Having my wife as a senior pastor? It’s different,” said Vaughn Kindle Chaney. “Being the ‘first gentleman’ doesn’t happen often. It’s challenging, it’s a new role, and it’s kind of cool.”
As we approach the Thanksgiving Holiday, there is a tremendous opportunity for each of us to touch the lives of the many people who are suffering as the result of this economy. This year we have seen so much devastation throughout our country, with hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. These, along with the unbelievable economy, have left countless people in need of help. What better time than this Thanksgiving season to offer our support to those in need?
As a people, we must move beyond the traditional Thanksgiving meal and football games and extend ourselves to families who need our support. We have discovered that the government can’t do it all — in fact in some cases, the government has turned its back on those who need help the most. It is the church and the people of God, who are called upon to be concerned about the least, the lost and the lonely — to have compassion for those who live in our streets, and the unemployed who need shelter and clothing, or just need a friend. I have said on many occasions that the church has abandoned its commitment to meet the needs of God’s people. This is not an option, but a mandate. We are compelled to take care of our brothers and sisters. Jesus the Master teacher spoke often about His concern for the least. The Gospel of Matthew, 25:35–36 reads, “For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me.” This is just one illustration of how the Master spoke to us about our need to extend ourselves to others. This is not simply something we should do on Thanksgiving, but I use Thanksgiving for an opportunity for us to begin, if we have not already started, to meet the needs of God’s people, with the sheer act of “giving.”
As a Rotarian, I am moved by their theme, “Humanity in Motion.” That is to say, we show our humanity and our love for people by giving. In my humble opinion that is profound. When we realize that we are all part of God’s creation, our humanity is shown in how we care for one another. This takes us beyond color lines, educational lines, class lines and gender lines. We of all people know what it is to be hungry, jobless, or to be left out of society. Therefore we have a greater responsibility to reach back and give to the less fortunate. The Word says, “To whom much is given, much is required.”
Those of us who have been blessed are challenged to give back, not just to sit at our tables at Thanksgiving with our families and have a wonderful meal, and to enjoy the comfort of family and friends. We are called to be equally concerned about those in the cold who have no place to eat or friends to talk with.
We can make a difference; we must make a difference. I challenge you today to reach within to embrace humanity. Someone has said, “If I can help somebody along the way, then my living will not be in vain.” Someone needs your help; help them and your life will be so much richer. There are a few practical things you can do this Thanksgiving — purchase food for a food pantry, cook a meal for a needy family, invite someone to your home for dinner that might need the warmth and friendship of a loved family; visit a nursing home; spend some time with a child who is without parental support; donate good clean clothing to someone in need; practice patience and kindness; forgive someone; the list can go on and on.
Make Thanksgiving Day 2011 your greatest Thanksgiving yet by giving back to others. Keep it real — just put your Humanity in Motion.
Rev. Charles Quann is pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Penlyn.