A Divine Mandate: Making the Connection Between Communities and Congregations

By Rev. Jessica Durr, 9th Episcopal District TCR Liaison

The Ninth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church seeks to fulfill the Great Commission that Jesus Christ established for God’s people. Our anointed and prepared leadership team, Bishop Harry L. Seawright and Supervisor Sherita M. Seawright, are diligent in doing the work of the ministry and creatively leading the Ninth District in further glorifying God!

The 2017 series of annual conferences reflected the hearts of our leadership in action. The goal of collectively bridging the gap between the voices of the church, political leaders, police officers, and the community exceeded expectations. Bishop Seawright is pursuing excellence in our churches and raising the need for spiritual awareness in the hearts of our congregants and community leaders across the state. In the effort to come together, town hall sessions for each annual conference brought forth honest dialogue and plans to move forward as one body seeking to remain educated and involved!

The Southwest Alabama Annual Conference came together on October 10-14 at Gaines Chapel AME Church in Atmore, Alabama. The Rev. Amos Smith was the host pastor. The president of the Presiding Elder Council, the Rev. Dr. Jacquelyn Denson, served as host presiding elder and the Rev. Johnnie Bryant, was the associate host presiding elder. The town hall session during the Southwest Alabama Annual Conference motivated the attendees to move forward with projects that would enhance both the church and community. Topics of discussions included inmate education and interaction within the community, the opportunity for effective prison ministry, All Lives Matter, after-school programs for children, the use of vacant buildings to foster educational opportunities, and the necessity for more parent-teacher involvement within the school system. Our special guests included Captain Kelvin of the G.K. Fountain Correctional facility; Chief Ronald Peoples of the Atmore Fire Department; Chief of Police Mr. Chuck Brooks; County Commissioner Mr. Rhodell Rhone; Escambia County Commissioner, Mr. David Quarker; Mayor Mr. W.R. Holly; School Board President, Mr. Willie J. Grissett; and U.S. State Senator, Ms. Vivian Figures.

Our Episcopal team has not only expressed their concern for our churches that have been dedicated to worship but they established ways to give back. At the closing session of each annual conference, every presiding elder district received a check to bless churches whose buildings needed immediate repairs. Fifty thousand dollars was distributed across the state from proceeds from the sale of vacant property and a donation from Church Mutual’s non-profit foundation.

While Alabama is comprised of five annual conferences and 10 presiding elder districts, there is an understanding that all conferences must be held accountable for actively working with their community leaders. Author John C. Maxwell says that “Change is inevitable but growth is optional!” However, under the visionary leadership of Bishop Seawright, the standard has been set and growth is no longer an option for the Ninth Episcopal District to become all that God has ordained!

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1 Comment

  1. The need for our churches to work with community stakeholders towards sustainable development of church and communities cannot be over-emphasized! So is the need for ecumenical relations across denominations and faith groups!

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