Celebrating the Retirement of the Rev. Dr. Ann F. Lightner-Fuller
By Licentiate Dawn M. Wayman, 2nd Episcopal District
After 34 years of pastoral ministry, the Rev. Dr. Ann Lightner-Fuller obediently adhered to God’s voice and retired from the itinerant ministry. Without question, Dr. Lightner-Fuller has been the epitome of pastoral leadership and has made full proof of her ministry throughout African Methodism.
Under Dr. Lightner-Fuller’s 31 years of leadership at Mt. Calvary AME Church in Towson, Maryland, the members became a mighty force in the community. Many lost souls were saved, the membership grew, ministries were developed, and many sons and daughters accepted their call to preach. Dr. Lightner-Fuller led the Mt. Calvary Church family in building a new sanctuary and constructing a multimillion-dollar Education and Family Life Center. The Family Life Center now houses programs aimed at strengthening families and making Mt. Calvary the hub of the East Towson community.
Dr. Lightner-Fuller, one of the top female preachers in the country, is a woman of many firsts. She was the first woman in the Baltimore Conference to serve on the General Board, the first coordinator of Women in Ministry for the Second District, the first woman to preach the annual sermon in the Baltimore Annual Conference, and the first woman to preach the morning service at the Hampton University Ministers’ Conference. One of Dr. Lightner-Fuller’s greatest highlights in ministry was being invited by President Barack H. Obama to speak at the White House for his annual Easter Prayer Breakfast on April 7, 2015. It was a great honor that was shared with the Connectional African Methodist Episcopal Church.
In her final act of itinerant ministry, Dr. Lightner-Fuller preached the closing message of the Second District’s Summer Meeting from the theme, “Making it on Broken Pieces.” She reminded members of the District that we might be pushed off our high walls and shattered into pieces like Humpty Dumpty but we can continue to serve God in the places where He has planted us. There we can see His power revealed in our brokenness.
In retirement, Dr. Lightner-Fuller continues to use her gifts. She leads one of the inaugural cohorts of the Doctor of Ministry students at Payne Theological Seminary.
When reflecting on her ministry, Dr. Lightner-Fuller shared, “As a student at Boston University, I came to St. Paul AME Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, under the dynamic leadership of the then Rev. John R. Bryant and Cecilia Williams Bryant. Now, 44 years later, not only have I found my true calling and my divine purpose in life, but God has used me to promote His Kingdom in ways I never would have imagined as a young woman with a five-year-old son on a college campus. During my ministry at Mt. Calvary, I reminded the people that God can do exceedingly, abundantly, and above all we can imagine. Indeed, God has done the extraordinary and the supernatural in the life of an ordinary woman who hailed from the Chavis Heights projects in Raleigh, North Carolina. To God be the glory for the immeasurable things He has done in and through my life.”