HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

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My birthday is June 18.  This weekend I will celebrate another year of life as I have done for so many years, associated with an AME Meeting.  All of my life I have shared my birthday with Father’s Day. It has been a pleasure since I was born on Father’s Day, and my father was in the pulpit during my birth.   No one, I am sure, saw that divine connection.  God gave him his last child on Father’s Day and every year there was combined acknowledgement.   No one knew that the day I was born, I would continue the Henning legacy to preach the gospel.   

Celebrating my birthday on or around Father’s Day has never been a problem.  My husband shares love and gifts with me, and I do the same.  It is a family celebration where we purchase two cards.

Beginning in 2015, I  also remember the massacre of the Emmanuel Nine.  This is a more sobering thought than giving thanks for fathers.  This is not a celebration but a commemoration.  Confirmed in my spirit is the uncertainty of death. Further confirmed is the diabolical, inhumane, community of evil that bases its hatred on color, race, gender, sexuality, gender identification, race, religion or anything evil creates.  No matter how righteous we try to live our lives, we are only a breath away from death not just from accidents but premeditated murder.   Yet, also confirmed in my spirit is the abundance of love, strength, and power in the collective resolve of a people who refuse to bow down to fear, oppression, and to evil in any form. 

Every time I see the collective pictures of Emanuel Nine,  I grieve their senseless deaths, and the pain their families must continue to endure.  But I thank God for The Rev. Clementa Pinckney,  Cynthia Hurd,  The Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton,  Tywanza Sanders,  Ethel Lance,  Susie Jackson, Depayne Middleton Doctor,  The Rev. Daniel Simmons, and Myra Thompson.  We will work so their individual and collective legacies will continue, healing will prevail in their families’ lives, and our fight for justice will be one day victorious.

This weekend I celebrate another birthday not only to enjoy my life, but to fight for life for others. Happy Birthday to me.

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Uncommon Evil Requires An Uncommon Response

 

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For those who don’t know what to do,

Uncommon evil requires an uncommon response,

No longer ask what must we do,

Just do again-

Black, White, Immigrant together again

Latino, LGBTQ, Native American and Women, together again.

Uncommon malevolent toward the

Poor,

Marginalized,

Sick,

Differently abled,

Starving children,

People hurting,

Demands uncommon action and reaction.

Delayed justice

is denied justice,

is justice not to be.

This is not an ordinary fight.

This cannot be an ordinary response.

Wake up,

Gear up,

Strengthen up.

Get past tired,

Stunned,

Traumatized, and

maximize the anger,

utilize all our resources,

from whatever source, they come.

Do it again.

Empower others to do it again.

Release all of US to do it again.

Pray again, march again,

Confront again, fight again,

Boycott again, write songs and poems again,

Vision again

whisper our strategies again,

cook again, walk and drive again,

house the activists, again,

Get energized again.

Learn social media,

Get a smart phone,

Take videos,

Confront your legislature,

Win an election,

Do it all and more again!

United in unity we must be

to dismantle the evil against

Freedom, Justice and Equality.

NOW!

annehenningbyfield (c) 2017

The Year Begins and Ends With Praise

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Giving praise
for the ability to
live in the midst of oppression,
breathe through the contamination of injustice,
laugh when so much is unfunny,
finding strength to forgive others and myself,
recognize that failure is not permanent,
their hatred does not make me hate
nor does it make me passive,
to work to implode the diabolical
acts of violence against every one
that is thought different,
while learning everyday to appreciate faith
family, friends, good company, human partners
and the divine
to keep living,
breathing/laughing while
envisioning and achieving
visions and dreams.
This year ends in praise and begins in praise to GOD.
In 2017
wishing you the gift of faith
the blessing of hope
and ability to envision and achieve
your dreams, liberation, justice, and human equality.
annehenningbyfield (c) 2016

 

Dare I Speak of Hope

The season of Advent is one to that requires hope, peace, love and joy. It takes courages to actively prepare to wait. It’s work and not passive.  Attach yourself to hope, it is the most empowering  action you can do this first week of Advent: Dare I Speak of Hope.    This poem was written for Dr. Allan Boesak in 2013.

Dare I Speak of Hope                                                                                         annehenningbyfield@2013

Dare I speak of hope                                                                                                                                    when hope unborn has died,                                                                                                            suffering cries out with no sound
screaming its pain.

Dare I speak of hope
to those who cannot speak,
full with tears as their food,
groaning in their strength
Living in despair

Dare I speak of hope
so hope may have its hope, until
Hope speaks for the poor’s sake
Tyrannical reign is defeated
Radical reconciliation is completed
the glory of the Lord is revealed
And injustice shuts its mouth.

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Dr. Wilma Johnson Doing What God Created Her to Do

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This weekend will be the celebration of the life of Dr. Wilma Johnson, my friend. I am out of the country and cannot attend. I am excited to be with the wonderful people of the 16th and yet, saddened that I am not with Deacon Dave and the boys (men now). My journey with Pastor Wilma started in 1999. She was assigned as the first pastor who was female to New Prospect Baptist Church; a few months later I was assigned to St. Paul AME Church in Detroit as the first female pastor. Both were national glass ceiling breaking appointments for our denominations and for women. A friendship grew immediately. She became a confidant, ministerial “sister” and friend. Our contact with each other continued well after I was assigned to be a Presiding Elder; she encouraged, prayed and walked with me into the office of a Bishop.

Pastor J’s influence on the Christian Church is yet determined. Her quintessential leadership is forever present in pastoring New Prospect, expanding every aspect of the congregation and building, influencing the political and social justice movement in Detroit, and the national leadership of developing the people of God, especially women, to become the very best they could be.  I will miss her sense of worship and her gift of singing along with her undergirding intercessory ministry. More than all of these  how she loved Deacon Dave and her boys and like any grandmother, overjoyed when she became one.

Dr. J is a genuine, caring, compassionate, gentle and strong preaching, prophetic woman of God. She will be missed by Ainsley and I. Deacon Dave, I am still praying for you and the family.

There are some people who are:                                                                                                        anointed,                                                                                                                                                                           effective,                                                                                                                                                   exquisite,                                                                                                                                               passionate agents of God,                                                                                                                                 because they                                                                                                                                                 simply are                                                                                                                                                             doing what                                                                                                                                                         God created them to do.                                                                                                                            Thank you Wilma for being.                                                                                        annehenningbyfield

Do You Know Where We Are?

 

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There are some trips every African Methodist should make in one’s lifetime. These are pivotal to our spiritual and church well-being and it gives deeper perspective to who we are. Coming to the World Methodist Conference is one. Seeing Methodists of every hue, language and region working, fellowship, sharing, and singing O For A Thousand Tongues makes me want to shout. General Officer John Thomas say we are in the top ten and probably around #5 of all Methodists membership. We must be here. We are here. We will be here.

I have some other favorite places to go to affirm the strength of African Methodism. My list of favorite AME places is certainly not complete and I invite you to add your own. Some of my favorites:
1. Anything AME in Philadelphia: Mother Bethel, St. George’s, Churches, Museums which feature us, etc. That is why having the General Conference there so meaningful.
2. Rev. Jarena Lee’s gravesite;  Amanda Berry Smith gravesite in Harvey, Ill
3. Birth of Allen in Delaware.
4. AME Baltimore, Bethel and places connecting us to Daniel Coker; Metropolitan Washington, DC.
5. London England and Wesley Cathedral, and other Wesleyan points including our church in London.
6. Savannah, GA, John Wesley’s stature and park, etc
7. African Methodism in Districts 14-20. There are too many to highlight but some are:  Sierre Leone where Coker started churches; Liberia: AME University; Johannesburg: R. R. Wright School of Religion, and other significant places; CapeTown: and all parts South Africa; Haiti, Dominican Republic, and other parts Caribbean whose history to African Methodism is deeper and longer than many of our churches in the USA.
8. Every birthday place of African Methodism in your district/city; Mother Emmanuel, St. Paul St. Louis, Old Beech Indiana, William Paul Quinn’s home and gravesite in Richmond, IN. Churches in Mississippi and Louisiana who had schools and still have cemeteries so that we could be buried. Kansas where AMEs migrated and were first settlers. Many still have evidences of Underground Railroad connection.  Just visiting a few of the William Paul Quinn churches would do wonders for understanding who we are.   I would now add AME India.
9. AME Colleges and Universities
10. Nashville and Washington, DC. Our Publishing House, our offices and seeing what we do.                                                                                                                                                                     The two pictures represent AME History in Indiana.  Old Beech is the first AME Church in Indiana. It was in an all Black settlement and became an AME Church when William Paul Quinn visited.  Records show that at one time six Bishops had a meeting at the church.  The second picture is the home of William Paul Quinn who started a significant number of churches in our Zion.  He started Bethel Richmond and Bethel Indianapolis.  He maintained his home in Richmond across the street from the church. wmpaulquinnhouseold beech

Musings From A Preacher

groupwomenI was raised in a family where the only competition was against one’s self. My parents told us that we were to love and respect all people. They were not our enemies and could not stop us from excelling. We were the only ones who could stop God’s visions and dreams for us. We were never taught that other women were enemies, people could not be trusted, and other women were my competition; friendships were important. Born in a family of four strong men, one strong woman, and a sister who died before my birth; my brothers and sister taught me unconditional love, celebration of humanity, and the power of unity and strength.

Last night at the Michigan Women in Ministry, I saw this demonstrated once again. Women who in supporting each other did so out of mutuality of leadership, appreciation of gifts and sisterhood. There was a genuine love of each other and for the men present.    Thank you for bringing Rev. Dr. Twana Harris, Pastor of Carter Metropolitan CME Church, Detroit as the preacher.  She is a colleague from Indianapolis and hearing her again was pure joy. Demonstrated in the room was the realization that we can’t get our blessings at the failure of someone else. We need each other and our strength is not formed in someone’s weakness. Strong women do not make weak men or other weak women. In fact, Bishop John R. Bryant says it best, “ it takes a strong man to love a strong woman.”

I am overwhelmed by the love and support of both men and women on this journey. I appreciate them all. I am especially blessed by those who remind me that it’s a lie that people don’t want female leadership. What people want is good leadership, regardless of gender. If you have heard me speak on the campaign trail, I often say I am not seeking episcopal service because I am a woman, and I do not want to be excluded because I am a woman. I stand on a strong ministry and excellence as a servant leader and a belief that the future is now together we can make our Strong Zion Stronger.  I solicit your prayers, your support, and your vote.

Thank you Michigan WIM for reminding me that one of the principles of my campaign is mutuality in leadership.  It’s not men against women, clergy against lay, youth or young adults against elders, it a we thing. With all of us together, the church and the reigndom of God will prevail. #413.

http://henningbyfield2016.com