For Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal, Johnson Chapel AME and Union Station/Bethel AME Churches in Henderson County, the conference year came to an end Sept. 18-21 in Dallas.
The 16th session of the North Texas Conference was hosted by Bethel AME Church under the leadership of Tyler District Presiding Elder Rev. Mittie C. Muse, Sr. and Rev. Darrell Caldwell, Sr. host Pastor.
The theme for the conference was “Stir Up the Gifts” which was this years vision for the 10th Episcopal District presented by Presiding Prelate The Rt. Rev. Vashti Murphy McKenzie.
Bishop McKenzie said, “If we’re not careful, we may forget the gifts that the Lord has given us. If we’re not vigilant, we may fail to use them or allow fear to hold our gifts hostage. If we’re ambivalent, we may ignore our gifting. If we allow the gifts to go dormant, we will worship, work, and witness with human power and not be guided by the potent power of the Holy Spirit. If we’re ignorant of our gifting, we cannot open our churches and communities to the wonder-working power of GOD!”
Bishop McKenzie went on to say, “Just as you read God’s word, pray, and worship to discover your God-given purpose, you can do the same to discover your spiritual gift. Only you can Stir Up Your Gift! You stir it up by learning, developing, enhancing, and using your own GIFT.”
On Tuesday, the Women’s Missionary Society had registration for its meetings, Bishop Vashti M. McKenzie met with the Presiding Elders of the Tyler and Dallas Districts, and later that evening the WMS held a spiritual Night in White service preached by Rev. Dr. Challis Bradford.
On Wednesday, there were meetings that included Board of Examiners, WMS business sessions, Presiding Elders giving their reports to the Bishop, Hour of Power service preached by Rev. Phea Kennedy, Protect My Ministry course for all Clergy, Board of Examiners students, Evangelists. The instructor for this course was Yulise R. Waters. The course focused how the church and clergy are impacted concerning sexual misconduct for adults and children. Waters noted that sexual misconduct happens in all religious denominations; it is a feeling of mistrust. “The role of clergy is to minister, set examples, to bring someone to Christ. Clergy must be humble; you are a servant of the Lord; know that you are handling God’s people. It’s not about you; it’s about the KINGDOM. Have healthy boundaries; know that you are in a spiritual war fare,” Waters said.
The opening worship service was called to order by Presiding Elder Rev. Walter McDonald from the Dallas District.
Presiding Elder Rev. Mittie C. Muse, Sr. (Tyler District) brought the word for this service and with the congregation already on fire, P. E. Rev. Muse preacher his heart out for the Lord.
The 16th Session North Texas Conference open on Thursday with Conference Institute (Rev. Dwayne Hysmith, Sr.), Roll Call, Church Reports, etc., with delegates from Malakoff, Athens, and Moore Station there to handle the business of the Conference.
The Hour Of Power which is a High Noon service was preached by Rev. Joan Nickerson; with her theme “Church You Can’t Park Here; You Got To MOVE.” (Matthew 17:1-9; 1 Peter 4:10)
Highlights from her sermon, “God will use you if you let HIM; you are the rock that GOD will build HIS church. You must have a different view from the world. God has given you a blend of gifts; you must use them; no one’s gifts are the same. Speaking God’s word is a gift; being a servant of God is a gift,” said Rev. Nickerson.
On Friday, there were more church reports and then a Memorial service was held for the members and ministers who had passed away. The Ordination/Communion sermon was given by visiting Presiding Prelate The Rt. Rev. John F. White from the 4th District of the AMEC.
The closing of the 16th Session North Texas Annual Conference on Saturday, Sept. 21 would be bitter sweet. For you see, this would be the last time that Bishop McKenzie would deliver a strong, empowering, and dedicated message to the congregation as she prepares to retire at the General Conference in July 2020 in Orlando, Florida.
Episcopal Supervisor Dr. Stan McKenzie said, “We have really enjoyed our eight years here in Texas and to all of you; we will miss you. Our retirement will consist of being with our family and especially our newly born grandson. Texas has been filled with hard working people who use their gifts, but most of all people who love the Lord.”
Before bringing her last sermon to the North Texas Annual Conference, Bishop McKenzie’s farewell statement “Texas is the best. You have shown that Texas is good ground, you have broken all standards and records by meeting your obligations; God has Blessed you and He will keep on Blessing you. I want to thank you for not just ministering to your congregation in the four walls of your church, but for ministering to your neighborhoods, your communities, for helping others when they needed help; making sure that the word of the Lord is going out and that people are receiving Christ. You have used your gifts and it can only take you higher, higher, and higher. We ask that you pray for us as we take this new adventure in our lives and we will be praying for you. Again, we thank you for your hard work and vision; and we thank you for what you are about to do.”
Bishop McKenzie preached on “Sit, Get, and Go” coming from Acts 9:17-19; Galatians 5:25.
“God is still good in hard times. We forget how good God is due to worldly problems; we fear the tap on the door; we fear that God is not there. For you see, we are our own worse enemy. We forget that we are in the hands of a forgiving and loving GOD. Every promise that God gives, He keeps. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we still have joy. Jesus faced the cross for us; yet, HE still had JOY. We see fear as a way of holding our gifts as hostage, however, we must let God use the gifts that’s in us to create a voice for GOD, our community, etc…God does not mind your pass for your pass doesn’t have anything to do with your future. You can’t do anything without GOD. Question--When you heard God; will you have the guts to answer? Know this, if you don’t answer, God will send people in your life to move you or hinder you. But there’s one thing I know; you will move,” said Bishop McKenzie.
Before Bishop McKenzie read the Pastoral Appointments, the Annual Conference recognized for ministers who retired. Rev. William R. Kelly with 20 years of service, Rev. Betty O’Neal with 26 years of service, Rev. T. J. Miles with 35 years of service, and Rev. Darrell Caldwell, Sr. with 44 years of service. Each received as a love offering the amount of $500 and Blessings for the congregation. The Annual Conference approximately raised $44, 672.00 to end this year.
Presiding Elder Rev. Mittie C. Muse, Sr. returned to the Tyler District, Rev. Keith Ray returned to Johnson Chapel AMEC in Malakoff, Rev. Judge Bill Burton returned to Allen Chapel AMEC in Athens, Rev. R. C. Emanuel returned to Rice Chapel AMEC in Dallas, Rev. I. B. Wells, Jr. returned to Grant Chapel AMEC in Palestine, Rev. Mittie C. Muse, Jr. returned to Ebenezer AMEC in Tyler, and these are just a few on the Tyler District.