The South Central Conference (SCC) is intentional about supporting their workers in a holistic manner (spiritual, emotional, and relational). During the month of January 2016, SCC provided a retreat for office staff, pastors, and their spouses to demonstrate their intentionality. The retreat was held Friday, January 15th – Sunday, January 17th at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa. The theme was “What’s in Your Bag?” The emphasis was on relationships. Workshops, discussions, and sermons were catered specifically for married couples and single workers. Workshops for the SCC single workers were facilitated by Pastor Lola Moore and Dr. Delwynn Williams, pastor of the St. John Missionary Baptist Church. Friday night started with a powerful, heartfelt message from Pastor Clifton McMillan entitled “What the World Needs Now.” The need for relationships, love, acceptance, and forgiveness was the overarching emphasis. Next, First Lady Jill Edmond provided a relevant segment on “How to Communicate Effectively.” She provided relevant examples regarding reading non-verbal cues, using “I” statements, and other tips for communicating effectively. President Dana Edmond and First Lady Jill Edmond presented gifts to all attendees. Ladies received a large purse and men received a gift bag to serve as reminders of the theme. Sabbath morning was somewhat non-traditional, exciting, and informative. Married couples were placed into various groups to discuss relevant scenarios. Group discussions provided the opportunity for collaboration and familiarization with others in the group. The well-illustrated Sabbath message, “The Prayer Jesus Would Not Pray” was presented by Pastor Kennedy Luckett. Pastor Luckett reminded us that Jesus did not pray that we are taken from this world, but that we are protected from the evil one (Read John 17:15). Everyone was admonished to hang in there, [...]
The Memphis New Covenant Church dedicated its first-ever prayer room and commissioned its prayer warriors with great excitement and thanksgiving to God on Sabbath, Jan. 2. The New Covenant Prayer Ministry team officially opened its special prayer room, called “The Heart of Prayer,” after weeks of creating a place where one can come and feel God’s presence in a special. During the 11 o’clock divine worship service, Pastor Daniel Lubega and the church’s elders led out in a special dedication of this sacred space, inviting the presence of God. This was so the designated room would be holy and set apart for personal worship. The prayer room is a place of serenity, and peace where all can spend intimate time with God. The Heart of Prayer is open for personal use any time the church is open, during office hours, and in the evenings when other events or meetings take place. No signups or scheduling is required. If the Prayer Room is in use and one desires to pray in private, then one is invited to wait and pray in the sanctuary until the prayer room is available. Members and visitors are invited to come to the Heart of Prayer to pray for themselves and others, and to intercede for our leaders, our ministries, the church, the community, the nation, and the world. The Prayer Ministry team members are filled with gratitude to God for providing the funds, talents, and gifts that made the Heart of Prayer possible. Special thanks to Carol Keys, Evelyn Edwards, and Jessie Smith for designing the prayer room; Ben Heard, Head Deacon, for painting the walls; Etta McGhee for sewing the kneeling pillows; and Kobe Keys for painting the art [...]
Last time, we began our discussion on what is our theme for our conference this year: The Time is Now! This theme centers around one of the two imperatives for our conference (I shall talk about that other imperative once we finish our discussion on this one). Aside from the fact that ministering to our own children, young people and young adults is the right thing to do, it is also something that we have to do, if we are going to survive as a conference. When I was a little boy growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, my church school principal said something to us when I was in second grade that I have never forgotten. I have repeated variations of it many times-especially in these past few years: “What you are to be, you are now becoming.” In other words, the type of churches and conference that we shall be in the future-if the Lord does not come first-we are deciding that now-by the things we are (and are not doing) today. If we are not ministering to, training and making disciples of our children now, then in the future, when we need ministers, church leaders and disciples in our churches and in our conference, those ministers, church leaders and disciples are not going to suddenly and magically appear-the preparation for what kind of church and conference we shall be tomorrow happens (or does not happen) today. The reason why I am so passionate about this is because I am a product of this process. I was blessed to grow up in this church. I was blessed to have Christian parents who believed that this was God’s church. They were not blind to its [...]
The Jackson Mississippi Seventh-day Adventist churches, Berean, Pastor James Owens, New Heights, Pastor John Parker, South Jackson, Pastor Philip Johny, and College Drive, Pastor Richie Halverson, were recently favored to participate and host the “Generosity Symposium 2015” which included an ASI (Adventist-laymen’s Services & Industries) recruiting luncheon for which several attendees applied for membership. Representatives of South Central (SC), James Lewis, associate SC stewardship ministries director, Ted Brown, PhD, Oakwood University professor, SC pastor & stewardship specialist, Larry Bailey, SC pastor & stewardship specialist, and Sonja Crayton SC assistant treasurer; Gulf States, Brian Danese, treasurer and former stewardship ministries director; South Atlantic, Stephen P. Ruff, executive secretary and former SC stewardship director; Southern Union, David Long, stewardship ministries director; and the North American Division, John Matthews, PhD, stewardship ministries director; shared their God given gifts and talents throughout the ministry event. Rather than the focus being on exacting funds from members, presenters bestowed rich gifts on attendees; thereby, demonstrating the Spirit of Generosity. Among the gifts awarded were three $500 educational scholarships, two Galaxy Tabs, and numerous other spiritual books and materials. Most attendees of this five day Symposium, themed, “Extravagant Generosity,” October 17-21, 2015, left with a tangible gift. One recipient of the educational scholarship wept as she shared how God answered her prayer through this award. Presentation styles ranged from sermons, panel discussions, Q&A, one-on-one counseling and Will preparations. Unlike the traditional stewardship focus, presenters addressed pertinent topics such as investments, preparing for retirement strategies, money allocation to adult children, getting out of debt, and the principles of equal sacrifice versus equal giving; plus a special activity for the youth, “Access 2 Success,” just to name a few. In essence, we learned that [...]
In this final blog for 2015, I would like to thank God and the workers and constituents of the South Central Conference for all of the good things that have happened this past year. We just had our final Executive Committee meeting for the year a few days ago. The Treasurer reported to us things that indicated that the Lord has blessed us. Through the first 10 months, we have a 6% tithe gain, an operating gain and we were able to grow our reserves by about $300,000 so far this year. We were blessed to vote a preliminary budget for 2016 (the final budget gets approved in March, after all of the 2015 figures are in) that allows us to all of the things that we felt we needed to do. We are hoping to hit 1,000 plus baptisms again and while our church school enrollment is a little down this year, it is significantly up for the past 5 years-which runs counter to the trend in the North American Division. It would be very misleading of me to say that there are no challenges; the truth is, I have not slept particularly well the past two nights thinking about some of our challenges. But the Lord is good and greatly to be praised. As the calendar turns towards 2016, I would like to share with you one of the challenges we are asking the Lord to help us to focus our energies for the upcoming year-ministering to children, youth and young adults. I was privileged to come to the conference office 25 years ago to serve as the Youth Director. We had not yet moved into the office that we now occupy. I [...]
On Sabbath, November 7, the rainy weather did not deter students, teachers, parents and members of the constituent congregations of the E.E. Rogers SDA School in Jackson, MS, from gathering to celebrate Adventist Education. Pastors P. Johny of the South Jackson SDA Church, James Owens of the Berean SDA Church and J. Parker of the New Life Church led a spirited discussion of the Sabbath School lesson. As the crowd continued to grow, additional chairs had to be brought from the classrooms to accommodate everyone. Music was provided by a constituent choir, which included students and adults from the various churches, and the congregation was uplifted by an inspirational performance from the E.E. Rogers Sign Language Ministry. SCC President, Dana Edmond, introduced the Divine Worship Service speaker – Dr. Ron Smith, Southern Union President. Elder Danny Chandler, a strong supporter of Adventist Education, shared how he began working nearly two years ago, to get this event on the union president’s busy schedule. Principal Youlander Clarke and school board chair Mae Henry each expressed appreciation for the faithful support the school receives from its constituent churches. As the congregation was comfortably accommodated in the spacious gymnasium for the worship service and in the large multi-purpose room for the delicious dinner meal, we could not help but reflect on how God has blessed E.E. Rogers to be housed in such a wonderful facility! Although E.E. Rogers is a small school (currently 26 students), they have big plans for the future. Principal Clarke (Grades 1-4) and Mrs. Patricia Thompson (Grades 5-8) look forward to welcoming many more students as they continue on their “Journey to Excellence” in Adventist Education.