Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Shepastor Highlights the “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry” Conference, August 26-27th, 2011

This past weekend, August 26-27th, a diverse host of clergywomen from the Midwest and East Coast gathered in Beachwood, Ohio to attend the “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry” Conference, sponsored by Women Together in Ministry of Greater Cleveland (WTIM). What an, anointed, refreshing, enlightening, strengthening, challenging, empowering and encouraging time we had together!

WTIM thanks everyone who helped to make this conference a reality! We thank everyone who came out to support this women in ministry gathering! The Lord granted us divine favor and smiled upon this our first ever event! As promised, over the next several Wednesday, Shepastor will highlight various aspects of the conference. Today, we will share excerpts from the first day of the conference, Friday – August 26th, 2011.

Read on and be blessed…

Shepastor Highlights the “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry” Conference, August 26-27th, 2011

While enjoying a scrumptious mixed greens salad with Champaign vinaigrette and chicken picotta or baked salmon meal, we were blessed with the melodious music ministry of our Worship Leader, Sister Joyce Lake of American Baptist Women In Ministry; Valley Forge, PA. After dinner we gathered for evening worship. We received special greetings from the Honorable Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (Representative of the 11th Congressional District, Ohio) who reminded us that on August 26th, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution went into effect, giving women the right to vote! She congratulated the conference for its multi-leveled diversity – racial, geographical and age wise. She applauded the vision of women coming together to empower and encourage one another.

WTIM was also honored by the Honorable Mayor Frank G. Jackson’s (Cleveland, Ohio) Office with a proclamation, expressing congratulations! The Cleveland Baptist Association Executive Minister, The Reverend Dr. Leonard Thompson proclaimed that we could drop the “Em” and the “En” and simply say, “Power” and “Courage” is what it takes to join together to address great needs and to do great things such as the many and varied great works of women in ministry.

Following several greetings, we were electrified by the praise dance ministry of two beautiful senior women (one of which is a WTIM Board Member, The Reverend Itherine Spencer) of the “Virtuous Liturgical Dancers” as they danced to Vicki Yohe’s rendition of “Lord I Worship You Because of Who You Are.” Those Sisters had us up on our feet!

Next, the Imani United Church of Christ choir rocked the house with the song “Sold Out” with lyrics declaring – “My heart is fixed, my mind made up – no room no vacancies I’m all filled up – His Spirit lives in me and that’s the reason I’m sold out!” Imani Senior Pastor, The Reverend Michele Humphrey lit our hearts a fire with her powerful message, “Go and Tell…” Taken from the story of Mary Magdalene’s encounter with Jesus when he instructed her to go and tell the disciples that He is risen.

Pastor Humphrey challenged the misinterpretations of Paul’s writings to Timothy that women are to keep silent in the church. “Do we listen to the dictate to keep silent or do we obey Jesus and go and tell?” She also emphasized the importance of women standing “together” in ministry instead of allowing competition, jealousy, envy and other issues to separate us. Sharing her own experiences as a woman pastor, she spoke about the importance of understanding “who” has called you to “go and tell.”

Now pastoring a church of several thousand, Pastor Humphrey let us know that it didn’t start out that way – half of the congregation initially left, not wanting to be led by a female, efforts to undermine her authority abounded, being addressed disrespectfully – being called, “sweet heart” and “Michele” the road has not been easy! But the same Lord who called her to ‘Go and Tell” has kept her and causes her to triumph over every adversity!

Finally, she shared the story of an experience by the late Rev. Dr. Prathia Hall Wynn, who, decades earlier in the midst of a Baptist gathering filled with male preachers who were asked to stand debated within herself how to respond – to sit because the “men” preachers were asked to stand – and she certainly was not a man or to stand because she was a preacher…

"I stood in the authenticity of my being Black, preacher, Baptist, woman. For the same God who made me a preacher made me a woman, and I convinced that God was not confused on either count."
The late Rev. Dr. Prathia Hall-Wynn

What a time we had in fellowship! How blessed we were to come together to worship, praise, sing, shout, dance and rejoice in the God who made us both women and preachers!

Our next segment will share highlights from Saturday’s plenary session, panel discussion and workshops. Post a comment or send me an email at

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shepastor: “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry - Sharing Our Insights With One Another”

Dear Shepastor Friends, this weekend, WTIM - Women Together in Ministry of Greater Cleveland will host the “Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry” Conference.” Oh how excited and blessed we are to have this opportunity to fellowship, pray, sing, dialogue, listen, praise and celebrate together as women in ministry!

For those who are not able to attend, excerpts from the conference will be shared over the course of the next few weeks. Today, Shepastor shares the questions that will serve as the basis for our panel discussion which bares the same title as the conference.

Read the questions and prayerfully consider sharing your responses with our Shepastor audience. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

See questions below…

“Empowering and Encouraging Women in Ministry”

-Through your own observation and experiences, what factors influence how women relate to one another?

-How have historical, societal and theological influences both positively and negatively impacted women’s relationships?

-Frequently, men are blamed for oppressing and hindering women’s progress. Many women, however, have experienced oppression, hindering and lack of support from other women. What can clergywomen and clergymen do to honestly, openly and sincerely address this issue?

-What can and should the Church do to help women build and nurture healthy relationships amongst women?

I look forward to receiving your wisdom filled, prayerful responses! Your insights can help us as women to overcome many of the things that keep us from loving, encouraging, supporting and empowering each other. Let's share so that we can turn our attention away from unhealthy patterns of behavior and be used to bless and heal others.

Post your responses or send them to me by email at

Until Next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Shepastor: “Things to Remember When You Grow Weary…”

Galatians 6:9 declares, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (KJV) At times, however, our, “due season” seems to take longer than we ever expected! Weariness of mind and spirit can overtake us and make us feel deeply discouraged. Today Shepastor shares some simple reminders to help us regain focus in the midst of our season(s) of trial.

Read further and be blessed…

Shepastor: “Things to Remember When You Grow Weary…”

Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 Difficulties and challenges are sure to come – but by the grace of God – YOU CAN OVERCOME!

Your life is not your own, you were brought here for God’s plan and God’s purpose… “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” John 15:16 Remembering that God is using us to be a light, an example, a witness, a blessing… will help us when the temptation to become self absorbed and entrenched by our personal struggles loom large.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 When we “delight” ourselves in the Lord, we begin to desire the things that the Lord desires for our lives. Daily seeking the Lord’s face, pursuing the Lord’s heart in prayer and submitting/surrendering our desires to the Lord’s will prepares our hearts to receive the blessings He has prepared for us all along.

Jesus reminds us, “I am with you…” Matthew 28:20 Knowing that the Lord is always by our side is important during seasons of loneliness and feelings of abandonment.

Remember to always trust and reverence the Lord, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” Psalm 56:3; “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy is understanding.” Psalm 111:10

Trusting the Lord in all situations and circumstances will keep us stable and moving forward. A healthy dose of “reverence” or “fear” of the Lord will keep us walking in a spirit of humility and obedience.

Remember, our “due season,” will come – don’t faint now!

Do you have a testimony about making it through the “weary” season? Are you wrestling with moving forward by faith? Post a comment or send me an email at

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Shepastor: “Singing The Lord’s Song in a Strange Land: Preaching When You Don’t Feel Like Preaching” Highlights from Sherman Haywood Cox II

1By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
2We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
3For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
4How shall we sing the LORD'S song in a strange land?
Psalm 137:1-4

As the Psalmist grappled with the realities of Babylonian captivity, he raised the profound question, “How do we sing The LORD’S song in a strange land?” For some, serving in their particular ministry can feel like, “a strange land” and or “Babylonian Captivity!” The pain, disappointment and struggle of serving in a less than supportive and appreciative congregation can drain one’s spirit of strength, hope, vision and vitality. Today, Shepastor highlights excerpts from the message, “Preaching When You Don’t Feel Like Preaching,” by Sherman Haywood Cox II.

Read further and be blessed!

Shepastor Highlights: “Preaching When You Don’t Feel Like Preaching,” by Sherman Haywood Cox II

Preach On!

… How do you preach when you don’t feel like it? In short the answer is to just preach. Preach on in your pain. Preach on through your pain. Often your pain can open up avenues in the scripture that you would not be able to see if you were feeling just fine. Andre Crouch sang: “If I didn’t have a problem, I wouldn’t know that God could solve them…” In addition, if the prophet Habakkuk didn’t get mad at God we wouldn’t have the book of Habakkuk. So just like Habakkuk wrote on and just like Andrea Sang on, I would encourage you to preach on.

Don’t Ignore Your Pain

As you preach, you should not attempt to ignore your pain while preaching or preparing. It is always important to be genuine. You may not connect with certain texts that you normally connect with. This time of pain might be a time of discovery and hope in the midst of hopelessness. It is easy to talk about God hooking you up when all is well, but when you are in the midst of something….you’ve got to be more real…more connected to your congregation’s pain…more connected to humanity’s pain. Hurt can be a gift to you as a preacher….

Finally, recognize that you are preaching for the help of the whole congregation and not just for yourself. While you shouldn’t ignore yourself, you must not only preach for or to yourself either. It is a balancing act, but you must ever realize that you are preaching to a congregation that needs a word. When you are in pain, that word may be a future-oriented hope. Meaning that it is not today that you are feeling good, but it is a future hope. Like the old song says “I’m so glad trouble don’t last always.”

Perhaps it is not an overt hope, but one that comes from the other side of the of pain. Like those who sang: “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child.” You can’t learn about how good God’s gift is until you fully understand your present position apart from God. Whatever it is, send them home with a real…valid…Word….

Let me also add, when you get past this time of pain, and you will, don’t forget to look back. Look back and let your new vantage point from the other side of your pain guide you in your future preaching!!!

To read more of Sherman's message, visit,

Do you have advice for preaching through your pain? Are you stuck in a spiritual rut? Post a comment or send me and email at

In faith, hope and perseverance,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Shepastor Weighs in: “Persuasive Rhetoric or Truth? Reflections Upon the Debt Ceiling Debate and Social Justice in America…”

Some years ago at a Baptist Convention, I heard South African, Theologian/Civil Rights Activist, Dr. Allan Boesak preach a sermon entitled, “Is it True?” His text came from Genesis 2: 15-17 that declares,

15The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

Dr. Boesak made the case that satan, through persuasive rhetoric and deceit convinced the first humans that God had a hidden agenda – to keep them from being “like God.” They failed to realize, Dr. Boesak argued, that the tree was placed there to remind them that they were "stewards, not owners." Genesis 3: 1-4 declares,

1Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
4“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

The devil appealed to their inner resentment that God said, “don’t touch this!” There’s something about forbidden fruit that confronts our flesh and makes it scream – “I want it all!” But that is another message for another day.

What Shepastor will consider today is Dr. Boesak’s question, “Is It True?” Does saying something repeatedly, persuasively and with great conviction make it true?

In the text above, Eve did not know or apparently understand what God said, therefore she was vulnerable when satan questioned God’s command. Crafty, persuasive and even sympathetic (in so many words, “the only reason you were told not to eat that fruit is because it will make you god-like – you will not die!”), the devil hooked Eve, hood winked Adam and sin draped over the world.

Persuasive speech flowing from deceitful lips is a dangerous thing.

We’ve been told repeatedly, persuasively and with great conviction that raising taxes on the wealthiest members of America is a “job killer,” but is it true?

We’ve been told repeatedly, persuasively and with great conviction that America should make trillions of dollars in spending cuts to get America’s spending under control and – this can and should be done with “CUTS ONLY” (no closing of loop holes, no tax reform or increase, no raising of revenue) But is it true?

We’ve been told repeatedly, persuasively and with great conviction businesses aren’t hiring because they are nervous about having to pay more for healthcare coverage for their employees as well as higher taxes, but is it true?

We’ve been told repeatedly, persuasively and with great conviction that President Barak Obama is ineffective, weak, leads from behind, has done little or nothing to help the middle class and the poor, but is it true?

Here are some facts…

Historically, American budgets have been comprised of spending cuts and revenue raised through tax increases up through the Clinton era. Major tax cuts, including those for the wealthiest Americans went into effect under President George W. Bush. Both conservative and liberal economists agree that those cuts served to weaken, not strengthen our economy. The drag of two wars and minimal revenue from taxes sent our Nation’s debt soaring!

For those who hale President Ronald Reagan as the greatest conservative leader, they should consider this…

“After Reagan's first year in office, the annual deficit was 2.6% of gross domestic product. But it hit a high of 6% in 1983, stayed in the 5% range for the next three years, and fell to 3.1% by 1988…So, despite his public opposition to higher taxes, Reagan ended up signing off on several measures intended to raise more revenue.

"Reagan was certainly a tax cutter legislatively, emotionally and ideologically. But for a variety of political reasons, it was hard for him to ignore the cost of his tax cuts," said tax historian Joseph Thorndike.
Two bills passed in 1982 and 1984 together "constituted the biggest tax increase ever enacted during peacetime," Thorndike said.

"What people forget about Ronald Reagan was that he very much converted to base broadening as a means of reducing deficits and as a means of tax reform," said Eugene Steuerle, an Institute Fellow at the Urban Institute who had helped lay the groundwork for tax reform in 1986 and served as a deputy assistant Treasury secretary during Reagan's second term.
(Quote from CNN Money, to read more, see link:

Social Justice Issues surrounding the Debt Ceiling Debate…

It just is not true that America can significantly address the debt crisis without raising revenue through tax increases – specifically on the wealthiest members of our society. Cuts alone disproportionately and negatively impact society’s most vulnerable: the poor, elderly, children and the middle class.

Here are the facts:

After enjoying 8 years of tax cuts and record profits, big businesses and other major employers are claiming that they are reluctant to start hiring because of uncertainty regarding tax hikes.

The harsh recession following the Bush Administration’s economics has disproportionately impacted minorities in America. According to Hope Yen of the Associated Press,

"The wealth gaps between whites and minorities have grown to their widest levels in a quarter-century. The recession and uneven recovery have erased decades of minority gains, leaving whites on average with 20 times the net worth of blacks and 18 times that of Hispanics, according to an analysis of new Census data… The median wealth of white U.S. households in 2009 was $113,149, compared with $6,325 for Hispanics and $5,677 for blacks, according to the analysis released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center. Those ratios, roughly 20 to 1 for blacks and 18 to 1 for Hispanics, far exceed the low mark of 7 to 1 for both groups reached in 1995, when the nation's economic expansion lifted many low-income groups to the middle class.

The white-black wealth gap is also the widest since the census began tracking such data in 1984, when the ratio was roughly 12 to 1.
"I am afraid that this pushes us back to what the Kerner Commission characterized as 'two societies, separate and unequal,'" said Roderick Harrison, a former chief of racial statistics at the Census Bureau, referring to the 1960s presidential commission that examined U.S. race relations. "The great difference is that the second society has now become both black and Hispanic."
To read more, visit

Banks, Insurance Companies and Oil Companies are making record profits while middle and lower class America are made to bare the brunt of the economic down turn…

According to the New York Times…

HOUSTON — Exxon Mobil, the largest American oil company, reported a 53 percent increase in its fourth-quarter profit on Monday, helped by an improving world economy that has increased energy demand and crude prices.
It was the strongest quarterly profit in more than two years, reflecting the strong recovery in oil markets. They soared in 2007 and 2008, collapsed in 2009, and returned to loftier heights by the end of 2010.

“It’s a home run,” said Fadel Gheit, managing director for oil and gas research at Oppenheimer & Company. “It’s a big positive earnings surprise on strong operating results across all business segments underpinned by strong production growth, higher oil and gas prices and improved margins.”
To read more, visit

In the article, “Health Insurers Making Record Profits as Many Postpone Care,” Reed Abelson of the New York Times writes…

The nation’s major health insurers are barreling into a third year of record profits, enriched in recent months by a lingering recessionary mind-set among Americans who are postponing or forgoing medical care.

- Tim Shaffer for The New York Times

Dr. Rebecca Jaffe, in Wilmington, Del., said that after years of resisting generic medicines, more patients were now requesting them to avoid paying hefty co-payments for brand-name drugs.

The UnitedHealth Group, one of the largest commercial insurers, told analysts that so far this year, insured hospital stays actually decreased in some instances. In reporting its earnings last week, Cigna, another insurer, talked about the “low level” of medical use.
Yet the companies continue to press for higher premiums, even though their reserve coffers are flush with profits and shareholders have been rewarded with new dividends. Many defend proposed double-digit increases in the rates they charge, citing a need for protection against any sudden uptick in demand once people have more money to spend on their health, as well as the rising price of care.

Even with a halting economic recovery, doctors and others say many people are still extremely budget-conscious, signaling the possibility of a fundamental change in Americans’ appetite for health care.

“I am noticing my patients with insurance are more interested in costs,” said Dr. Jim King, a family practice physician in rural Tennessee. “Gas prices are going up, food prices are going up. They are deciding to put some of their health care off.” A patient might decide not to drive the 50 miles necessary to see a specialist because of the cost of gas, he said.

To read more, visit

Concerning President Barak Obama being a weak, cowardly, ineffective leader, check the record…

In his first 3 years, he has accomplished more than most during their entire presidency…

- Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Expands healthcare insurance to millions of Americans, prevents insurers from rejecting patients with pre-existing conditions, opens the door for increased reform and overhaul of the healthcare system
- Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Financial Reform) Tightens government oversight of Wall Street, empowering the government to shut down failing institutions before they threaten to undermine the US economy. Capped fees on charges Banks can impose upon consumers
- Credit Card Reform Act: Imposes consumer protection restrictions on interest rates and fee hikes
- Troop Surge in Afghanistan: Drew down soldiers fighting in Iraq while increasing the number sent to Afghanistan, significantly impacting the Taliban’s ability to spread
- Found, captured and executed, arguably the most wanted terrorist in American history – Osama Bin Laden
- Despite wide range criticism, President Obama sacrificed his reputation and call for “shared sacrifice” to painstakingly work out a deal with unreasonable, uncompromising, “my way or the highway” ultra conservatives to increase the debt ceiling and avoid the first Default in U.S. History: While commentators conveniently sit on the side line and accuse the President of “Folding like a lawn chair,” President Obama and America now live to fight another day. Stay tuned, I have a feeling that we have not heard the end of this story. Just as he systematically and quietly planned and carried out the mission to capture and execute a terrorist, the President will do what is necessary to bring our economy back to health – let us pray!

What is true? Consider the facts and you decide.

Post a comment or send me an email at

Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris