From Vision to Reality: The Bishop Sarah Frances Davis Connectional Women’s Missionary Society Outpatient Health Clinic Dedication
By Dr. Carol T. Taylor Mitchell, Special to The Christian Recorder
Delice, Haiti, was the site of the realization of a vision fulfilled in the life of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Senior Bishop McKinley Young, Connectional Women’s Missionary Society International President Dr. Shirley Cason Reed, and many witnesses gathered on top of the mountain and shared testimony to the vision realized. The series of prayerful and strategic events occurring from 2014 to October 30, 2017 by the AME Church’s Service and Development Agency (SADA); its executive director, Robert Nicolas; and staff, birthed the mountaintop experience for the bishops, supervisors, presiding elders, general officers, WMS staff and members, the twin sister of Bishop Sarah Frances Davis, and members and friends of the 16th District in attendance.
The three-day trip to Haiti included an orientation for both USA and Haiti participants on Sunday evening. The dedication ceremony was held on Monday followed by a luncheon where local officials and dignitaries joined the delegation from the United States. Departure was on Tuesday.
Robert Nicolas and Dr. Marie Yolaine Remy, the AME-SADA Acting Representative and Head of Health Services, conducted an orientation on Sunday evening to more than 50 participants. They gave an update on the work of SADA in Haiti and specifically the new Clinic. Data and visuals of the number of persons served and the health services provided helped the viewers understand the need for such work and the blessings the work provide for so many in Haiti.
Monday morning, after caravanning to the mountaintop, Dr. Shirley Cason Reed greeted the crowd of witnesses. The dedication ceremony followed and was led by Bishops Young, John White, and Anne Henning Byfield; President Cason Reed; Supervisors Dorothy Young and Penny White; and Executive Director of Global Witness and Ministry Dr. George Flowers.
Following the ceremony, President Cason Reed expressed her overwhelming joy and satisfaction. She explained that the realization of the Clinic was the result of hearing the prayerful call and responding to Habakkuk 2:2, “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it.” The run began when the vision was shared at the 18th Quadrennial WMS Convention and gifts from districts were given to support the President Cason Reed’s vision and the WMS. The run began as the land was acquired, a contractor secured, and now, four years later, a three-story building sits on the mountaintop abutting the Caribbean Sea.
Bishop Young challenged those present to “Push the boundaries!” Further, he said that the possibilities are here in Haiti if we take them. He stated, “In order to take them we must raise the level of awareness – global awareness.” Those present were encouraged to continue conversations of the issues we heard about and saw.
As an observer and a follower of the African Methodist Episcopal Church from close-up and afar, I continue to be in awe of the work of the Church. While I could never know or express the excited feelings of Supervisor Claytie Davis, Jr., who worked with Bishop Sarah in Haiti, I can only echo what he and Bishop Sarah knew in 2004. It was “Mission Possible.” The mission for Bishop Sarah was not just about providing health care for all people, taking care of the needs of the orphanages, or providing for the needs of the church. The mission was and remains all of that as well as transforming minds and hearts to do the will of God at home and abroad. I left Haiti feeling that the mission is being accomplished! As Director Nicolas said during the experience in Haiti, “He didn’t bring us this far to leave us.” While the Clinic will provide for the health needs of the people, it will also provide so much more!
At the orientation, Bishop Byfield said that before the building of the Clinic, there were no churches in the immediate area. She excitedly reported that there is a church now and that there are 60 members. This writer believes that the Clinic was a “catalyst.” Imagine the transformations that are possible!
The Clinic Dedication ended with a tour of the facility and refreshments. I shall never forget the sunny morning on October 30 on the mountain of Delice, Haiti, where the “hut” serving the health needs of the people of Haiti is now the three-story Sarah Frances Davis Connectional Women’s Missionary Society Outpatient Clinic and it is paid in full! Bishop Young said it best during his comments, “We will not stop here on the foundation built to glorify God.”
Dr. Carol T. Taylor Mitchell is the twin sister of the late Rt. Rev. Sarah Frances Taylor Davis. She is a career educator and is Professor Emeritus of Science Education and STEM at the University of Nebraska—Omaha.