Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Shepastor: "When God Sends Women..."

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Matthew 28: 8-10, NIV

 

Shepastor: “When God Sends Women…”

Jesus’ ministry was inclusive. He did not adhere to the societal norms that marginalized and disenfranchised people based upon their race, gender, religion or ethnicity. Jesus loves us. This particular passage of scripture shows how Jesus was not concerned about the fact that those who came to the tomb first were women. He did not dismiss them and say, “Go get men. These women can’t carry my message!” NO! Jesus entrusted the women with the first word from the tomb! “Tell them that I am ALIVE!!!”

In the upcoming Master Class, “When God Sends Women,” I am privileged to share the lessons from my book, Beyond the Stained Glass Ceiling: Equipping and Encouraging Female Pastors. The classes will explore experiences of women pastors…words of wisdom, caution, encouragement and insight. Classes will also highlight current and past trends regarding the disparities and inequities women pastors face as they seek and answer pastoral ministry calls. Participants will also have an opportunity to engage "Power Brokers," those who stand on "the other side of the door" and help advocate for women pastors!


While the class is free, participants are encouraged to make a donation to the Beyond the Stained Glass Ceiling Endowment (select the pull down menu and click on ISOE Beyond the Stained Glass Endowment). This fund was born out of a desire to help African American women pastors to survive and thrive. So often women in general and African American women in particular find themselves only receiving calls to “Lazarus” churches (learn more about that in the class!). This endowment will offer 2 grants per year to two selected pastors based upon the grant criteria.

I thank my wonderful and beautiful Clergy Sisters, Rev. Jewel M. London and Rev. Dr. Carol L. Patterson for inviting me to teach this class. These GREAT Women of God are doing PHENOMENAL THINGS in the Kingdom and are truly lifting others as they climb.

Register for the class, “When God Sends Women” featured on “Let’s Talk,” today!

Follow the links below to purchase the book and to register for the class...

Please join us for a 3-week Master Class (Mondays, November 2nd, 9th, and 16th, 8:00 p.m., EST) for women called to Pastor. The class is based on Beyond the Stained Glass Ceiling: Equipping and Encouraging Female Pastors. Please order your book directly from the author and facilitator, Pastor Christine A. Smith (Let's Talk Week 5).

 

Master Class begins Monday, November 2 so click here to Order Book today - shepastorchris.org/my-book

 

Click Here to Register for the Master Class: "When God Sends Women" http://bit.ly/CTPMasterClass

 (To support the Stained-Glass Ceiling Endowed Fund give online at ABHMS and click the GIVE NOW button and access the drop down menu and select ISOE Stained Glass Endowment or mail your check with “Stained Glass Endowment” in the memo section to: American Baptist Home Mission Societies, 1075 First Ave., King of Prussia, PA 19406. If you have any questions about giving, please contact ABHMS’ chief development officer, Vincent Dent at vincent.dent@abhms.org or 610.768.2420.)

In faith, hope and perseverance,

Pastor Chris

www.shepastorchris.org

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Shepastor: “Six Reasons Why We Should Vote…”

 


Jeremiah 29:7 Common English Bible (CEB)

Promote the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because your future depends on its welfare. Jeremiah 29:7, CEB

The year 2020 has been a challenging, strange and painful year for many, to say the least. To date, over 210 thousand people in America have succumbed to COVID-19. Many small businesses and individuals have been devastated by the economic avalanche prompted by the pandemic. Families have not been able to mourn and celebrate the lives of loved ones who have died in the ways to which they are accustomed, honoring their sacred traditions. Many places of worship have had to shift from in person worship to some form of technological means. The nation is deeply divided along racial, theoretical, economical and ethical lines.

On top of all of this, we are in the throws of one of the most contentious presidential elections in modern history. Many are so exhausted and daunted that they are losing hope. Numbers of young people are looking on in disbelief. Some have even suggested that their votes will not matter. But before you join the “What’s the point” club, consider the following reasons why we all should vote…

    1.    Voting is your way of having a say… When you cast your vote for presidential candidates, judges, levy’s, council representatives, and any number of issues, you are adding your voice of agreement or disagreement. Your vote could literally change the course of history! When you neglect voting, you are voting by default!

      2.    Voting is your responsibility as a citizen… Everyone can complain. Everyone can talk about what is wrong. But when we vote, we participate in the election process. When we don’t vote, we have no right to complain about the way things are. To be a responsible citizen is to take part in the process. 

3.    3.  Voting empowers you to help make a difference…     In the words of our focus scripture verse, “Promote the welfare of the City…” When we vote, we have an opportunity to promote, move forward and positively influence the places where we reside. Issues regarding health care, jobs, wages, fair and equal standards, diversity, immigration, the environment, education, etc., all rely upon the voices of the people. Congress is moved by their electorate. They represent us! When we don’t vote, we leave them to their own devices and those of the lobbyists. Money, not your best interests govern.

 4.    People died so that we could vote… Blood was shed. Bodies were beaten. People mobilized and marched. Individuals were attacked by dogs, blasted by water hoses, burned, lynched, humiliated, jailed…all so that all citizens in America would have the right to vote. Voting rights were EXPENSIVE to obtain. We must honor, be grateful for and appreciate this right, not only with words, but with the action of voting.

 


   5.    People die unnecessarily when we don’t vote… There are those who suggest that young people aren’t moved by the reality that people died for their right to vote. If you feel that way you must consider that people are dying unnecessarily when you don’t vote. We need your voices to help demolish antiquated, unjust, racist systems that perpetuate models of brutality and death. We need your votes to help improve upon and expand systems that show promise, but need an overhaul. You need to vote, if for no other reason, than that you should be concerned about the country and the planet that will be left for you.

 6.    You should vote because your life depends upon it…The Lord told Jeremiah to tell the people, “Pray to the Lord for it, because your future depends on its welfare…” Your future, our future and our welfare, our wellbeing, our prosperity, our health depends upon the communities, nation and world we build. Here in America, that is determined by our vote. Our prayers must be coupled with our action of voting. Some will argue that the Electoral College makes the determination and not our vote. But remember, the Electoral College is influenced by our vote. When we vote in mass, we can far surpass the 270 electoral votes for a president to win. Also remember, the president is only one branch of a three-branch government (Executive, Legislative and Judicial). Even when our preferred leader does not win, we can still influence outcomes by having a balanced legislative branch (the House and the Senate).

Use your voice. VOTE!!!

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,

Pastor Chris

www.shepastorchris.org

 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Shepastor: “New Members of the Great Cloud of Witnesses…”

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12: 1, NLT

This passage of scripture is written in direct connection to Hebrews chapter 11, which has frequently been referred to as the “Hall of Faith.” The “Great Cloud of Witnesses” refers to those women and men in chapter 11, who remained faithful to God through many struggles, trials, hardships, persecutions, miracles, victories and even death. Our focus verse for today reminds us of their faith, and that they are “looking on,” encouraging us to continue to run our appointed race through faith, patience and grace.

In the past few days, in America and for us in the Greater Cleveland/Akron, Ohio area, we recognize the earthly loss of several giants of faith and social justice. Today, Shepastor pauses to honor the lives and the legacies of these great individuals who now have joined our “cheering squad” in the heavenly realms, taking up their places among that powerful group of witnesses…

 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, aka, “RBG…” (1933-2020)

Affectionately called “R.B.G.” by her supporters, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has inspired generations of women to break gender barriers. Even after facing gender discrimination as she pursued her academic goals, Ginsburg forged ahead and became the second woman--and first Jewish woman--to serve on the Supreme Court. Read more at https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/ruth-bader-ginsburg

 

The Rev. Dr. Diana L. Swoope, Senior Pastor, Arlington Street Church of God, Akron, Ohio (1955-2020)

“Never apologize for being a woman or being a pastor.”

That’s what Diana Swoope heard from her mentor, Pastor Ronald Fowler of Akron’s Arlington Church of God. Fowler broke ground not only when he hired Swoope as an intern in 1981 then later promoted her to assistant pastor, but the big move was in 2009.

That was when Fowler recommended Swoope replace him as head pastor of one of Akron’s largest and most prestigious African-American churches. Read more at https://www.cleveland.com/news/2020/09/dr-diana-swoope-dies-a-pioneer-pastor-a-friend-to-those-battling-cancer-faith-you-terry-pluto.html

 

Bishop J. Delano Ellis, II, Metropolitan-Arch Bishop of the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops, Pentecostal Churches of Christ (1944-2020)

Bishop J. Delano Ellis II, a Black church official who started Pentecostal organizations and emphasized ecumenism, died over the weekend.

Over the course of his career, the Philadelphia native was a teacher, pastor and a chief of chaplains in the U.S. Air Force Civil Air Patrol.

But J. Delano Ellis was also among a group of “High-Church Pentecostal” clerics who in the 1990s became known for adorning their necks with Roman collars, wearing priestly garments with links to their African heritage and reciting the Nicene Creed. They were part of a trend that reshaped a portion of American Black religion. "Traditionally ... the Pentecostal church maintained its ardor but was never really known for its order," the bishop, then president of the United Pentecostal Churches of Christ, told Religion News Service in 1995. "What we're discovering ... is that order is not blasphemous. Order best represents God." Read more at https://religionnews.com/2020/09/21/high-church-pentecostal-leader-j-delano-ellis-dies-at-75/

(Each of the above articles are attributed to the news outlets found in the attached links).

We give God praise for each of these GREAT leaders, trailblazers, social justice leaders and examples of perseverance and excellence. May we, like them, by faith, “strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12: 1, NLT

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,

Pastor Chris

www.shepastorchris.org

 

  

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Shepastor: “Crosswinds and Blessings…”

 

20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20, KJV


Recently, a massive explosion in Beirut caught the attention of the world. Debris flying, an unsuspecting bride taking wedding photos thrown to the ground as buildings began falling. Interestingly, one of the men interviewed shared that prior to the explosion, it was a beautiful, quiet day. He and his mother were sitting out on the balcony when they heard the loud noise and felt the ground rumble.

As they ran back into the house, he wisely told his mother to leave the windows and doors open. As they ran towards safety, a huge blast followed behind them. However, because both the windows and doors were opened, the impact was less lethal. They survived.

In a completely different situation, as I sat one day in a small room in our home, I had the window open. Even though the window was open, the room was a bit warm and uncomfortable. I opened the door to the room and all of a sudden, a pleasantly warm breeze began to flow and soothingly brush past my face. Opening the door created a crosswind that did not occur when the door was closed, even though the window was open.

As I pondered this experience, I thought about God’s blessings in our lives. Sometimes, we have opened the proverbial “windows,” in our lives… prayer, attending worship, striving to live “good” lives, etc. But we have kept larger doors closed…stepping out on faith to do things that are out of our comfort zone,  obeying the voice of God to answer a call, sacrifice a special offering, forgive someone who has wounded us, stand up for what is right even though it may not be popular.

Opening our doors require faith. It also requires trust that God is able to hold us in His loving care, give us what we need to accomplish what He has asked us to do and empower us to His will through His Holy Spirit guidance, strength and peace.

When we keep the doors closed, we miss the “crosswinds of blessings” that are not possible with cracked windows. We run the risk of inviting danger when we believe we are safe. We truncate the beauty of the wind of God’s favor upon our lives.

What doors are you afraid to open? What doors are you refusing to open? What blessings are you missing because you are content to remain in a closed off “room” with only a window open, ignoring the doors of opportunity?

Trust God and open your door today. The crosswinds of blessings are awaiting…

In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,

Pastor Chris

www.shepastorchris.org