The Fourth District 2017 Debutante and Masters: Quite the Spiritual Affair!
By Dr. Michael C. Carson and Sister Jacqueline Mitchell Robinson, 4th District CDMC Co-Commissioner
Bishop John Franklin White, the presiding prelate of the 4th Episcopal District, had a vision that young adults and youth would participate in a commissioning ceremony that recognized Christian growth and ultimately maturation. In July 2017, the vision was realized with the inaugural 4th Episcopal District Commissioning Ceremony.
The elegant, black-tie affair was held at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois, on July 9, the day before the official opening of the 4th Episcopal District’s Christian Education Congress. A total of 32 debutantes and masters, representing churches in all five conferences—Canada, Chicago, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan were recognized. There was standing-room only! “The African Methodist Episcopal Church has a long history of recognizing Christian maturation of young women and men as they embark upon adulthood,” said Bishop White. “We celebrate their transition to responsibility, accountability, and discipleship,” he continued.
While the titles of “debutante” and “master” are used, this ceremony was unlike typical “cotillions” or “societal” balls. This ceremony celebrated youth’s “daily magnifying Christ” in their lives through their Christian walk and goals. “Our mission is to create an environment for spiritual growth and development of our youth through exploration of ‘spiritual gifts,’ availing resources, and remembrances that will guide, instruct, and instill Christ-like attributes,” explained Mrs. Lyndajo Watson, Connectional CDMC Administrator in her congratulatory letter published in the 4th District CDMC Souvenir Journal.
The Fourth District Christian Education Director, the Rev. Dr. Reginald Blount, said, “While CDMC has been active in the Chicago Conference for many years, it has been absent on the District level for decades. This event signals a great change as we expand to embrace youth in all five conferences.”
Sister Kiahna W. Davis, Indiana Conference CDMC Director and Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening shared with me, “These young persons, the 2017 Debutante and Masters Class and Court should be saluted! It was with great pride they were presented as ambassadors of Jesus Christ. It was exciting to see their growth and we should look forward to them blossoming into wonderful young adults!”
The program began with the prelude and processional to “We Are Marching in the Light of God.” Here, the capacity crowd witnessed a major procession of the CDMC Commission, program participants, and presentation of AME junior sub-debutantes and sub-masters.
Sister Ruby Frazier, Michigan Conference Director, lined the hymn, “I Am Thine Oh Lord.” Sister Loy Pinnock-Brown, Canadian Conference Director, offered the invocation. Sister Jacqueline L. Robinson, Illinois Conference Director, presented the welcome and Sister June Conner, Chicago Conference Director, gave the significance of the occasion. The Fourth District Co-Commissioner, the Rev. Deidre E. Hines, served as the commentator and presented the 2017 debutantes and masters.
The Fourth Episcopal District 2017 Class of Debutante and Masters of the AME Church processed into the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance.” A congratulatory tribute to the honorees and the welcome to post debutantes and masters was extended by Sister NiJonna Edge, a 1999 debutante.
Co-Commissioner Sister Jacqueline Mitchell Robinson extended acknowledgments. Encouraging comments were given by the Rev. Blount and Bishop White also offered words of encouragement.
The sacred Dedicatory Service of Commitment included elders’ prayers by Bishop White, the Rev. Blount, and Presiding Elder Thomas Hughes. The blessing presentation was “Alpha And Omega.” Bishop White gave the closing benediction. An elegant reception immediately followed.
“These young people are inspirations for the coming generations,” said Bishop White. “I am encouraged that the future of the AME Church is in good hands because they represent all of us as God’s chosen vessels,” he exclaimed. When we sow into the “rich ground” of our youth, we ensure a rich harvest of solid Christian Leaders!