Dr. Shirley Cason Reed Fulfills God’s Anointed Word
Mrs. Julie Hagwood
Bethel AME, Evanston, IL 4th Episcopal District
In July 2012, I moved from my home of 28 years to Westminster Place at Presbyterian Homes in my hometown of Evanston, Illinois. This move did not happen until it had been well-bathed in much prayer. I was going to be their first Black resident in over 100 years of their existence. It is a premier residence. On Friday, April 13, 2012, as I crunched figures to calculate how long my money would last and how I would care for my developmentally disabled precious son, Byron, I learned that my pastor the Rev. Harold L. Barnwell was the selected preacher at the Presiding Elder’s District Conference. I put aside my papers, left the adding machine with its tape curling on the floor and dressed to leave for church. I sat alone in the pew upon arrival. The answer I had sought all day came as Pastor Barnwell announced his subject: “God Has The Numbers” drawing from Gideon’s encounter with God.
On Saturday, August 13, 2016, Dr. Shirley Cason Reed came at my request to honor my church’s 90th anniversary. (My grandmother was a charter member of Bethel AME). As I explained to her over the phone the plans for a Saturday reception and for her to speak Sunday morning, the Director of Marketing for Assisted Living had stopped me in the hallway and invited me to speak at one of her events. She heard me talking to Dr. Reed and told me her office would provide all the food, staff, setup and cleanup, center pieces and a corsage for Dr. Reed. I replied with only one word, “Jesus!” I knew the room was mine as it is part of the common area that comes with my housing. Now all we had to do was show up. No work, no fuss, and no cost! I began to invite as many people as I could. I started in April for this August date.
Before I moved in I had sat alone in the beautiful chapel asking for directions and opened my eyes from prayer to see four words etched in the stained glass window in front of me, “A Place For You.”
Dr. Shirley Cason Reed has been a close family friend of one of my five brothers. The Reeds treated him like family. Having her to come here to the place our Lord has provided and to grace this place, the guests, the residents and my Bethel family brought it out in bold, underlined letters: A Place For You!
I share this experience because I have served as a Missionary and an Evangelist for over 60 years and I am well aware that every member, labeled missionary or not, has a place. In her memorable message, “Anointed to Serve”, Dr. Reed included the significance of life member status and what it means to serve, not with white dresses or hats but difference makers sold out to do the assigned mission. The Women’s Missionary Society of the AME Church is immensely blessed to have Dr. Reed as its leader. She represents all that is good about the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She was superbly introduced by immediate past President of the Chicago Conference Branch, Corliss Moody, as our “chief missionary”.
Thank you, dear Lord, for my sister and my leader, Dr. Shirley Cason Reed. Please continue to use her and all who follow her for your glory!