(Memphis, Tenn. – DNS) – One of the country’s best-known gospel artists brought the audience to its feet at the opening concert of the 20th biennial session of the National Convocation. Gospel singer Kurt Carr performed many of his well-known songs as more than 1000 people clapped and swayed to his rousing music.
Carr’s performance opened the four-day Convocation, which is held every other year to inspire African-American Disciples and discuss the achievements and challenges of African-Americans in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The 2008 event was held July 25-28 in Memphis, Tenn. at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. "God, Our Weapon in Spiritual Warfare" taken from II Corinthians 10:3-5, was the theme of the conference.
Speakers at the session included Kenneth Robinson, a physician and pastor of St. Andrew African Methodist Episcopal Church in Memphis and Frank Thomas, pastor of Mississippi Blvd. Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Memphis. The Saturday morning speaker was the church’s First Vice-Moderator Ayanna Johnson. She is a pastor, social worker, community organizer and motivational speaker and is pastor of Family of Hope Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Blue Island, Ill. Stacy Spencer, senior pastor of New Direction Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Memphis rounded out the list of main worship leaders at the Saturday evening banquet. Each speaker shared his or her perspective on the conference theme of spiritual warfare.
"I appreciate the serious approach of our preacher s and workshop leaders to our theme," said Timothy James, the Convocation’s Administrative Secretary. "We do not hear of spiritual warfare too often, but every Christian will encounter a spiritual crisis sooner or later. It is good to know that with God on our side we cannot lose, because the battle is already won."
The Institute for African American Faith and Life was part of the Convocation and offered more than two dozen workshops oriented toward clergy and laypersons. The institute was led by Billye Bridges, of Disciples Home Mission, who is also a member of the Merger staff of Convocation. Workshops covered such topics as creative worship, new church ministry, working with young adults, congregational transformation and communication.
A business session, panel discussions on the vitality of the Convocation, womens’ events, and a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum were among the many activities that drew participants to Memphis. Activities for children, youth and young adults were included among Convocation activities. General Minister and President Sharon E. Watkins also gave an update on the work of the Mission Alignment Council (MACC), which is looking at ways to develop better and more effective ways to accomplish mission.
New officers elected for the 2008-2010 Convocation are: Viann Bristow, President – Paducah, Ky.; John Harvey, Vice President – Hazel Park, Mich.; LaVerne Bobo, Secretary – Memphis, Tenn. and Patricia Palmer, Treasurer – Little Rock, Ark. New board members that continue through 2010 are: Jeanetta Cotman – Detroit, Mich.; Matthew Harris – Chino Hills, Calif; Raymond L. Brown – Louisville, Ky.; and Pat Penelton – Ballwin, Mo. Continuing board members include: Nora Shumake – Detroit, Mich.; Eugene Reynolds – Spencer, Va.; Karen Barrett – Berkeley, Calif.; and Armon Allen, Chicago, Ill.
Women’s Officers for 2008-2010 are: Patricia Q. Bluitt – President (Southwest region); Pamela Dubose – First Vice-President (Mississippi); Marilyn Williams- Second Vice-President – North Carolina; Daisy Chambers -Immediate Past President – North Carolina; Karen Barrett – California – Member at Large; Kathy Davis – Virginia – Member at Large; Almetia Brown – South Carolina – Chaplain; Brenda Etheridge, Secretary – Michigan and Sheila Spencer – Office of Disciples Women – Treasurer and Staff – Indianapolis, Ind.
Written by: Wanda Bryant Wills