Friday, June 26, 2015

How 2.1 Billion Believers can frame “The Conversation”

#WeAreOne – A Litany

LEADER: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (SMALL GROUP 12-20 CONVERSATION)


LEADER: Stony the road we trod, bitter the chast'ning rod, felt in the day that hope unborn had died; yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet, come to the place for which our fathers sighed? (SMALL GROUP 12-20 CONVERSATION)


LEADER: We have come over a way that with tears has been watered, we have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered, out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last, where the white gleam of our star is cast. (SMALL GROUP 12-20 CONVERSATION)    

PEOPLE: I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his only son our Lord who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead; and buried. The third day he arose from the dead’ he ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Church Universal, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. (SMALL GROUP 12-20 CONVERSATION)

LEADER: God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who hast brought us thus far on the way; thou who hast by thy might, led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray.  Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee. Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee.  Shadowed beneath thy hand, may we forever stand, true to our God, true to our native land.  (SMALL GROUP 12-20 CONVERSATION)

ALL: I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. (TOWN HALL CONVERSATION)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Small groups move from objective to outcome.

#WeAreOne is a goal within reach for 2.1 billion believers. 
As praises go up, blessings come down.
Todd Lollis Instagram

By Eric Stradford, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired 

AMWS, June 23, 2015, Acworth, GA -  Pastor Leela Brown Waller of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and Pastor J.R. Lee of the Freedom Church declared to their diverse congregants, #WeAreOne.   Hundreds pressed to worship in the historically hot Bethel sanctuary to share a Kairos Moment on their Chronos Timeline.

In the Freedom Church spirit of decency and order, the 6:30 pm event started with hot-mikes, cameras and praise-ready capacity at 6:30 pm EST.  In the Bethel AME reality, on-time can mean EST, CST, PST or even CP.  The AME pastor comes to “church” with some realities not required of other Christian counterparts.  She is appointed for one year by a Bishop at an annual conference.  She reports to a presiding elder, quarterly on mission, membership and money.    She is responsible for carrying out the spirit of the 18th Century Free African Society which requires connection with AME values on five continents.

The most noticeable difference is the anvil displayed on the AME’s cross.  Just like the Confederate Flag in South Carolina symbolizes a proud heritage that once divided a nation, the anvil on the AME logo symbolizes a unique brand of humility that pastors hope their congregants might embrace.

At Vacation Bible School, one night after diverse congregants declared #WeAreOne, the AME pastor invited young learners to talk about any super hero. 

One young learner, studied the prescribed lesson with his grandmother based on the Genesis 37 account of Joseph, The Dreamer. He surprised the pastor with "Khuda and Lalilli" as his super heroes.  The pastor looked to the consultant, and the consultant Googled "Khuda and Lalilli."  But the Internet search results revealed so much more about the young learner, the historic learning environment, the consultant’s own AME upbringing and current events.

The young learner claims Berean Seventh Day Adventist as his church home. “I do claim I'm African American,” Adam posted on Facebook.   At age 11, Adam is known by #IAmBethel as ALL BOY!

He brought his skateboard to Vacation Bible School hoping to do some on-the-block evangelizing with the neighborhood kids.  He arrived at 6, a half hour ahead of the 6:30 required time to do his thing.

Little did any of the caring adults realize his thing would become our wake-up call.  By his example Adam became this reporter’s newest super hero.  Back in the day adults came to VBS, Sunday School, and Bible Study unprepared or underprepared for vital learning that needed to take place.  As an outcome, #IAmBethel gave way to #MTPews, declining membership and a fast-food spiritual feeding mindset that’s either defining 21st Century Christianity or destroying it.  

As a result, a new top priority for AME Class Leadership (Small Discipleship Groups)  is to equip the next generation for Class Leadership.  Small Group leadership is not brain surgery.  An eleven year old can do this with on-demand lessons from other super heroes.

The Indian fairy tale about "Khuda and Lalilli" got a few good Class Leaders to thinking a little more about friends-n-kin in India and modern-day superheroes we fail to recognize.  The presiding bishop for AME Churches in India is also the Senior Bishop for the AME Connection.

Informed and engaged AMEs affectionately see The Right Reverend John R. Bryant as #IAmBethel’s “Rambo-n-the-Bush.”   His “boots-on-the-ground” presence models a story of servant leadership that is respected (or revered) worldwide.   

Offering unprecedented global access through a variety of sources to include social media, @BishopJohn4th is preaching and tweeting a body of believers toward achieving the “more perfect union” envisioned by framers of the U.S. Constitution.  

There is no compromise in @BishopJohn4th’s four year campaign toward achieving #WeAreOne.  But like Leela Waller, the late Clemente Pinckney and AME Pastors worldwide, John Bryant’s mission comes with the added weight of an anvil on their Christian cross.

In July 2016, AMEs around the world will honor a 200 year lineage of elected consecrated Episcopal Leadership at the 50th Quadrennial Session of the General Conference.  AME Pastors, Class Leaders, Missionaries and Episcopal Candidates will be challenged to declare #IAmBethel and #IAmAME on the way to achieving #WeAreOne with substantive objectives and outcomes. 

2013-THE GOAL OF DISCIPLESHIP  GO! This biblically-based command has been studied and strategized by AME Episcopal leaders since 1816.  In July 2016, the worldwide AME church will convene its 200th Quadrennial Meeting.   Where to go from here has never been simpler.  Follow the leader who follows the Christ. 

2014-THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP Most AMEs grow up singing hymns, repeating litanies, and trying to force change on a system we know too little about.  In the past, church goers have focused way too much on the collection plate and way too little on the collective human capital value of believers in Jesus Christ.   When you sing the words, “This is my story, this is my song…,” imagine yourself as an heir of salvation, a purchase of God.   Then consider your part as one of 2.1 billion Christians, each responsible for another’s salvation.  Salvation, for a historically disadvantaged person, is, unarguably, a pathway to economic inclusion. 

2015 – THE EVIDENCE OF DISCIPLESHIP – A gunman, perhaps an agent of Satan, pointed a weapon at and shot Susie Jackson, 87.  The coroner’s remarks included testimony about friends-n-kin she had the “pleasure” of serving.  My Story is the evidence of Suzie Jackson’s discipleship.  Telling Suzie’s story, to include the life everlasting she believed in, is perhaps a shared valued for AMEs and 2.1 billion self-proclaimed “heirs of salvation” we value as “friends-n-kin.”   

2016 – THE HARVEST OF DISCIPLESHIP  The AME Church grew out of the Free African Society (FAS) which Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, and others established in Philadelphia in 1787. When officials at St. George’s MEC pulled blacks off their knees while praying, FAS members discovered just how far American Methodists would go to enforce racial discrimination against African Americans. Hence, these members of St. George’s made plans to transform their mutual aid society into an African congregation. Although most wanted to affiliate with the Protestant Episcopal Church, Allen led a small group who resolved to remain Methodists. 

In 1794, Bethel AME was dedicated with Allen as pastor. To establish Bethel’s independence from interfering white Methodists, Allen, a former Delaware slave, successfully sued in the Pennsylvania courts in 1807 and 1815 for the right of his congregation to exist as an independent institution. Because black Methodists in other middle Atlantic communities encountered racism and desired religious autonomy, Allen called them to meet in Philadelphia to form a new Wesleyan denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The symbols America embrace, be they a Confederate Flag or an Anvil on the cross, must add value to a global economy.  The motto IN GOD WE TRUST was placed on United States coins largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the Civil War. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received many appeals from devout persons throughout the country, urging that the United States recognize the Deity on United States coins.

YouthUSA promotes value in our beliefs through the NATIONAL LEARN-2-EARN PARTNERSHIP. Any beneficiary or caring adult investor can learn more about Friend-Raising opportunities at