St. Peter AME Church, Fort Valley, GA Celebrates 133rd Church Anniversary
By Desiree V. O’Bryant
Sunday, November 20, 2016, was a beautiful and sunny day for celebrating the historical and rich legacy of St. Peter African Methodist Episcopal Church’s 133rd Church Anniversary. Saint Peter’s pastor, the Rev. Mark S. Pierson, was appointed to St. Peter in June 2016. He was born in Houston, Texas, and is the eldest son of the Rev. and Mrs. Stephen Pierson of Los Angeles, California. He attended California State University Northridge, received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Morris Brown College, and Master of Divinity degree from Turner Theological Seminary. Pastor Pierson is married to the former Kelli Hands of Chattanooga, Tennessee. They are the parents of a daughter, Stephanie Pauletta, and a son, James Reuben. Their children represent a sixth generation of AMEs. Saint Peter is truly blessed to have Pastor Pierson and his family lead their congregation. The Rev. Harvey R. Williamson is the Macon South District Presiding Elder and the Rt. Rev. Reginald T. Jackson is the Presiding Prelate for the 6th Episcopal District.
On Sunday, November 13, 2016, a presentation of the Twelve Tribes Pre-Anniversary Celebration took place at 2:00 p.m. at St. Peter. It was a very successful program with Sister Willie M. Johnson serving as Chairperson.
The Church Anniversary theme was, “Unstopping The Wells: Remember, Radicalize and Revolutionize.” The 10:00 a.m. worship experience began with the Tolling of the Bells for the descendants of the church’s founders. Pastor Pierson was the worship leader for this occasion. After the Hymn of Praise, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” the Rev. Dr. Carolyn Tarrant gave a powerful invocation followed by Brother Ashley Ballard, General Chairperson for the Church Anniversary, who acknowledged the visitors and elaborated on the occasion. He stated that for centuries the African Methodist Episcopal Church has stood in the forefront and continued its historic legacy of faith, love, and God. We must, he said, radicalize Christian education, social justice, discipleship, winning others to Christ as well as revolutionize political justice and economic justice issues and unstop the wells of freedom, justice, and equal opportunity. Afterwards, the St. Peter Mass Choir sang praises to the Lord with gospels such as “O Give Thanks unto the Lord,” and “Jesus, He will Fix It.” Brother Cullen Carson is the Director of Music and Brothers Jabarri Johnson and Nicholas Ross are co-directors. The Sweet Melodies, directed by Sisters Carolyn Sampson and Ruby Tukes, sang several selections such as “Change My Heart, O God,” and “What a Mighty God We Serve,” which enhanced the occasion. Sister Tannya Duncan presented the “M.E. Singleton Service Award.” This prestigious award is presented annually in memory of Brother Merchant E. Singleton, who was a faithful servant to his church and community. The first recipient of this award was Brother Lucious Moore, a trustee. Sister Duncan stated Brother Moore has a quiet spirit, has shown he loves the Lord, his family, and St. Peter. The second recipient was Brother Ashley Ballard, a steward. Sister Duncan stated that Brother Ballard is a child of God, authentic, and a distinguished tower of strength. Both recipients were humbled and honored to receive this special recognition.
The Proclamation of the Word was delivered by the Reverend Stephen A. Green. He is an itinerant deacon in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and currently serves as the National Director of the Youth and College Division of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). His biblical reference was Luke 7:11-16 for the sermon entitled, “A Recipe for a Revolution.” He said that recipes show us how to create a dish for something special. We must have a recipe for a revolution. He told the congregants that clouds may come and we may have some tears but God specializes in moments like this. God will take care of you. His empowering message enlightened hearts and echoed the theme of the occasion. After the worship service everyone entered the beautifully decorated Ulric George Fellowship Hall to partake of the annual Anniversary dinner.