We have watched the senseless murder of women, particularly African American Women by their partners or former partners.  It has been a painful watch for any one of them but to see Dr. Tamara O’Neal, Angela Bledsoe, and Aisha Fraser Mason killed stunned the nation. This is not a new problem and reaches all women, and all walks of life.

The question is raised:  How do we stop this violence against women? The answer is difficult because of the complicated reasons why people abuse.

The murder of African American women is a continuing disgrace .On April 1, 2004 in Detroit, Michigan, Roger Thompson strangled Lisa Shelton to death.  He was her boyfriend.  He also killed her four children, William Parker Jr. 16, Wrandell Parker 14, Wanee Parker 12, and Aushani Thompson 9, Roger Thompson’s daughter.  They were all beaten to death with a pipe.  Lisa’s sister was locked naked in a closet and told he would return for her and left.  She escaped and called the police.

I was the only female clergy who spoke at the funeral in the midst of a myriad of male preachers.   I wrote the poem: This is Our Promise* in the pulpit because I was astonished at the blaming of the devil and God (God needed new flowers in his garden), shaming women, and the stress of men.

This is our promise. Lisa and your little ones, hear us, and, hear us well. Forget any suggestion that this is a one-day event. Erase any theory that we will not remember. Ignore any speculation that we will not fight. We cannot bring you back Lisa and your little ones. We cannot promise that another one, will not be abused, beaten, or killed. but We declare we will breathe in life, war in the spirit, grab a child, hold a woman, confront a violator until the silence of your screams erupt in thunderous roars, saying no more, no more.

The reasons for these senseless murders are varied, including the problems of: male entitlement, gun accessibility, a controlling and dominant spirit, extreme jealousy, uncontrolled anger, substance abuse, and false biblical or religious beliefs. Two other reasons that impact domestic violence are generational influence and the defense of these acts by men including male pastors.

Children who are exposed to violence in the home are more likely to be physically and/or sexually assaulted.  When children are exposed to violence, crime, or abuse in their homes; 70% or more will be either abusers or abused as adults.  Abuse is seen as an acceptable choice when they have similar emotions and the abused are raised to believe they are supposed to be abused.  

Oddly enough, Shelton and her three oldest children saw Shelton’s mother’s former boyfriend douse her father and brother with gasoline and set them on fire. Family stated there had been evidence of violence in Shelton’s other relationships.  Until we break the cycle in children who live through these crises, we are doomed to see the repeating of the generational patterns.

The silence of the church is deafening with the thunderous condoning of the violence.  I have sat in too many funerals hearing the vindication of men because of the Adam and Eve narrative: Women are responsible for every bad thing in the world.  Years before I attended the funeral of a 14-year old female relative of one of my members. Her father, a police officer shot their 14-year-old daughter and then committed suicide because his wife, her mother had left him.  He was a physical and verbal abuser often sending his wife to the hospital. At the funeral, to my dismay, the pastor blamed the mother. 

There is no easy solution.  Women who stay are often murdered in body and certainly murdered in spirit.  Women who leave are often stalked and murdered.  While we are looking for long term solutions, we as a church must be absolutely clear that gender violence is not a female issue.   Male pastors and men must confront abusers and engage in confrontational yet healing discussions. 

The code must be intolerance, get some help, we will not tolerate violence against anyone especially against women and children.  The language must be strong in rebuke every time men tell abusive, dismissive, she’s my property statements  against women. Men must be allies of women who are abused rather than find justification for their abusers. Nonviolent men must also “check” their misogynistic language and raise both their girls and boys with the same example and teaching.   They must affirm that violence is not acceptable or tolerated and there are consequences.  Women and children must not bear this journey or provide solutions alone.

Let there be no surprise, no hesitation, no faltering, no miscalculation. the church will not be silent any more we will not let the screams be snuffed or dismiss families in torment. Lisa and your little ones hear and hear us well. This is our promise no more, no more, no more.

*published in The Essence of My Existence,  and recorded in Flowing Essence                                               annehenningbyfield






haitiansinworshipLula Brockington AME Church,  Haiti

The recent racist white nationalistic tone of the President while repulsive, sickening, and appalling is not surprising.  His comments represent his many years of tyranny by words and deeds.  Someone asked why I didn’t respond earlier as the AME Bishop of Haiti and be timely in my comments. Mr. Trump’s comments never stop, so one is always timely in response to his racist, sexist, misogynistic, demonic, amoral actions.  Moreover, as a Bishop, my voice was among those of the Council of Bishops of the AME Church who spoke powerfully to the issue.  

While we always need to confront the assault by his mouth, his legislative, financial assaults are worse as they hold the full weight of the government and judicial power.  When he speaks, he strengthens his base who blindly, believe and support him.  More than outrage is required of us for he has declared war. The war is ultimately for the annihilation of people of color. The language form of his most recent statement is code language suggesting these countries are not worth life or respect. His comments continue to support his justification of hatred and bigotry as does his non-response to the Libyan slavery crisis; a wall with Mexico; sending as many Haitians back as he can; and raping these lands of natural resources and wealth. At the same time, speaking kindly about the murderers in Charlottesville and other racists only confirm his racism.

Outraged we must be. Our response must be calculating, strategic, and not social media. Calling for his impeachment in the climate he controls are empty words.   I do not mean to suggest that we don’t work to that end, I am proposing rather, that we must prepare the work now for that end.  In 2018, we have a significant opportunity to work for real change across the nation.  Many seats will be opened.  Many candidates and voting opportunities are available. Successfully taking advantage of these opportunities requires working with people who are different, have different beliefs, serve a different God, live a different lifestyle, and are of a different ethnicity. It further requires reopening the cautious possibility of dialogue with those white women who supported him in 2016.  Defeating him through changing Congress is doable but difficult. It will take work, the same kind of work we used in the past when Black folks were committed to the vote. We saw this same degree of work utilized again when we elected an African American president and most recently when we turned a “red” state “blue”.  Right now, we need it all, prayer, voter registration, getting the vote out, dialogue, covert plans, and targeted boycotts.  We need it all and we need “us” all.  We only have now.

My father often said, “arguing with a fool is foolish”.  A similar conclusion has been attributed to Dale Carnegie: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”  Trying to convince Trump of the human dignity of all of God’s creation is convincing him against his will. Yet, the world needs to be reminded of the endless contributions to the world made by its people of darker hue and that these very people who he so demeaned are responsible for the natural and human resources upon which his success has been built.

I serve a people who secured their own freedom by defeating their enemy. Haiti is the first real global expansion the AME Church and we continue to serve there. In the early 1820s the president of Haiti contacted Bishop Richard Allen to come help build Haiti, and organize the AME Church there.  We did. Thousands of Blacks migrated to Haiti to do so. Many stayed for generations; others for a season.  They formed a relationship that was mutual.   Haiti helped the U.S. in the Revolutionary War and in other causes.

For the last several days, I have had to address the Haitians in my District on this issue. To say they are angry is an understatement. Many Haitians supported Donald Trump for President.  They feel betrayed and demeaned at his vulgarity against them and for his plans to return Haitians to Haiti.  They have serious questions about what the views and policies of the U.S. government mean.  They ask “How will we fight for them?” 

As we confront the racism against Haitians here, what will we do collectively about rebuilding and strengthening the Haitians there?  Our present conflict over the attributed words of President Trump can serve as alesson for us all. How many times have we disparagingly spoken of and stereotyped the language, dress, and culture of others especially Black and Brown people. Let us correct ourselves while we are demanding political and cultural correctness from others.   Let’s move the mandate of the AME Church to manifest and provide partnership in mission to Haiti, and other countries.

We are facing a plan of genocide both here and Haiti.                                                                    If it quacks like a duck.  Let’s stop the quacking.

No, Not This Time!


We are not




enfeebled, or


We may be




tranquilized, and



 “Selling Africans before our eyes”

overwhelms, and

ought to make even the

pacified with the health fight,

conciliated with the journey to incarceration,

satisfied with the president and these

demoralizing policies,

laughing about police action shootings,

silent about domestic violence,

unconcerned about sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and child trafficking

sitting home commenting in social media

mistaking your comments for action.






contact the UN,


African federation,

your congressperson,

your Muslim friends,

place of worship,

other nations

fraternity/sorority, homies,

GOD and whosoever to



donate money and time,

declare with words and action,

Enough.  Not this time

Stop global slavery.

slaverylibya© 2017. owner unknown.  found in social media

The selling of slaves in Libya speaks volumes about how we are seen solely as commodity not as humanity.  If it was relegated to only Libya, we could fight collectively as the world against such atrocities.  The truth screams the opposite. It is not just in Libya, who are people of color themselves and Africans themselves; it is a global problem.

Walk Free Foundation, a human rights group, reports that worldwide there are more than 45 million people who are in modern slavery.  Most often, these persons are victim of trafficking, the new word for slavery, or through migration as a captive source of free labor.   World leaders seemed incapable of stopping it because of the economic benefits to it and the difficulty of infiltrating and capturing smugglers.  Poorer nations, particularly, nations of color, are and have been vulnerable to slavery, others’ control of their resources, and their leadership’s passive participation in stopping the conditions that surround it.  There is no hesitation of continuing one of the most debilitating acts of the history of the world- the slavery of Africans. As a result, we are seeing auction block slavery, and the impact of slavery and economic devastation in these countries.

We are legitimately outraged.  The pictures are more than we can bear. They speak to the African American beginning in this country and the horrors of our ancestors’ middle passage, rapes, free labor, and the continuing justification of such diabolical evil.  We are fighting the result of slavery on a daily basis and seeing slavery in its raw form in Liberia is sickening and intolerable.

We are again confronted with our lack of worth and expendability.  The President of these United States has called the Libyan story fake news. His denial does not dismiss this atrocity nor does it stop our response.  This is not a fifteen minutes news flash.  This is a cause for action for us individually and for the United States.

The United States responds historically to all kinds of persecution, diseases, natural disasters, and oppression.  While it appears that some of these responses only occurs when it is politically or environmentally beneficial, there was a response.   With this present administration, we simply deny that it exists. We are in a bleak place.

We have been in this bleak place before and saw the forces of good break through the forces of evil stopping the sheer raw form of slavery.  We still suffer from its impact but we brought it down once before.  Recently Candidate Roy Moore of Alabama was asked when America was great.   Moore responded: “I think it was great at the time when families were united—even though we had slavery—they cared for one another…. Our families were strong, our country had a direction”.  This is not just Libyan problem.

Our efforts must continue.  In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “the time is always right to do what is right.” This is a collective resolve and it is winnable again albeit not without a painful, ever evolving intricate struggle.

We must do what we know to do again.

  1. Make sure that United States focuses and all-out assault on these issues.
  2. Support the United Nations’ fight to apply sanctions against Libya and other countries.
  3. Demand the stopping of sex trafficking in the United States and other nations.
  4. Collectively resolve to financially support organizations that work to eradicate poverty, lack of education, health, hunger, food sources and gender, race, and xenophobic inequities.
  5. Consistently educate ourselves, march, boycott and do whatever we can. 

Fight we must.

S. Lewis writes in The Great Divorce, “They say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.” We must even call on God to not just work in the present and future but to work backwards to turn this agony into glory. What sayeth you?

I say no, not this time.






A lie is a lie whether you re-name it, change it, deny it, shift the emphasis of it, blame the victim for it, publish it through the media, sign an executive order for it, get others to endorse it, have evangelicals biblicize it, promulgate it as truth, have the leader repeat it over and over, and even have victims begin to believe it. It is still a lie annehenningbyfield 2017

One of the most insidious aspect to the perpetual assault on people of color, and women is the continuation of myths and lies about who we are, how we became in this culture, and the justification of injustice and violence against us. While we have come to expect lies from racists, fascists, white supremacists, conservatives, religious ignorants, and political bigots, it does not make it more palatable to hear the president of these United States of America tell us we are responsible for our conditions. Despite assertions that we are not smart enough to be angry about the lack of health care, educational opportunities, jobs, police violence, urban violence, mistreatment in every system including the penal system; we are indeed angry about our conditions and your refusal to acknowledge your culpability.                                                                                                       

The effects of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and bigotry of any kind are not lies. What is a lie is your fabrication of what happened in Charlottesville, Dakota Pipeline, and all of the living-while-Black and Female murders. Shifting focus and blame on someone else is as old as the beginning of the world. In fact, it has its genesis in the very evil that is in the world.                                                                                                                                              

Adam said, “I am not guilty because of this woman you gave me.” Women have been beaten and killed because someone said, “she made me do it”, “she deserved it”, and “if she hadn’t…” When we ran away from slavery, we deserved the beating. Looking at a white woman, we deserved the lynching. Re-defining ourselves to be Black and Proud, renaming ourselves as African Americans, electing a President who is Black, or fighting for injustice all resulted in our punishment and death. The bottom line has always been it’s our fault that we are Black, poor, woman, Latina, and Native American.

We have reclaimed the truth and will not accept your versions anymore. The Confederates were a group of men who divided the country and declared war to maintain the system of slavery, and forced us to fight to maintain our own slavery. Their statues are not worthy of honor no matter how you spin the narratives and call them heroes. It’s a lie.                                                                                                                                
There are injustices that will take longer for us to conquer, but believing the lie is not one. We are reclaiming your re-shifting and announcing that your creating new language doesn’t change the lie. Mocking us does not diminish the lie. Viciously assaulting us and calling us liars doesn’t stop the reality it’s a lie and all who defend it are liars.


I’m Free*

The necessity of my sanity, the level of my disintegration causes a re-assimilation of me. I no longer yearn to be in order with you if that means out of order with me. Your definition of self, identification of perfect, standard for wholeness holds me hostage to your declaration of my totality. My dissolution is over no more conformance to an impossible normalcy or acceptance of other’s idiosyncraticism of my color, hips, and hair. My beauty, belief and behavior are all now self-defined. Desiring no recognition at my rejection, I am finally in order with myself and with God which may make me out of order with you, others and your lies.

*The Existence of my Existence: ©2007 annehenningbyfield





On July 12, 2016, I woke up a Bishop in the AME Church.  My husband and I decided to rest and reflect before we went down to the assembly.  We both turned off our cell phones to focus on the significance of the moment.  I finally started to get dressed and there were several messages on the phone. Before I could read them volunteers were knocking at our door. The Episcopal Committee had announced a couple of times that I was to meet with them.  It seemed that everyone was calling to let me know to report. 

In a moment of panic, (one does not make the Episcopal Committee wait) the volunteers assisted me in preparing to report and got me out the room as soon as possible.  When my interview was completed and I could finally breathe, the learning principle I had given to licentiates and pastors for so many years was clear for me.  In the AME Church, everyone reports to someone, even Bishops.   Reporting to and timely arrival where you are required to be are essential steps in success.

For a brief moment in my exhaustion and overwhelmed state from the election, I forget and was awakened to the fact that I could never forget.  The blessing continues to be that there were, there are and always will be people to help when we are sensitive to their love and support.

All day on July 12, 2016, I found loving, working, giving people who support the ministry of the episcopacy.  They made sure that we got our pictures taken, knew where the refreshments were, and walked us through the first day.  When I resisted their help, they reminded me it was their job and they loved it.   They were there before election, during the election and now as I serve as Bishop of the 16th Episcopal District.  I am grateful for their steadfast, unmovable, consistent support.  

Much like the high number of family and volunteers who supported my campaign for whom I will be forever grateful; I thank God for the support teams in the African Methodist Episcopal Church at all levels.  Without them, logistics of meetings, documents, refreshments, transportation, our ability to perform and so much would not effectively be completed.  I was grateful to my team then and now for the expanded the team as the work has expanded.   Thank you for making the first year a blessing.




BET AWARDS: Keeping It Real!



Last night I posted on Social Media that I didn’t understand the music of the BET Awards. It drew lots of responses mostly criticizing the music. The posting was not criticizing the music but rather my lack of understanding some of it. I think I was not able to relate because of age and my lack of consistency in listening. Yet the passion, thought and creativity I did understand.


This morning I was reminded of the sermon I preached only a few hours before the posting. In the sermon I said: “When I was a teenager my parents and their generation thought what they knew about church was gone. They were watching young people wearing afros, and girls wearing pants to church. Young people shouting Viva la Revolution, changing their names and saying Jesus was Black. We were singing church songs my parents didn’t like. My father heard me singing O Happy Day chastised me and said that trash would not land in his house. I was 15 when I got my first afro my mom took me to the hair stylist and put a relaxer in my hair because she didn’t believe in natural hair. My music went from bubble gum sweet to the Last Poets, Gil Scott Heron, and then hip-hop. But the very thing our parents hated become a mainstay and helped usher in a new perspective. When the song Precious Lord first came out, many members of the church hated it because it sounded too bluesy. Many people didn’t sing Amazing Grace because it was written by a slave owner. Some of John and Charles Wesley’s songs tunes were bar songs that they were converted into hymns; and Charles Albert Tindley’s music was originally disdained by the church. While we don’t have to embrace all of what we are hearing and certainly the lifestyle, I wonder if we realize how much we sound like our parents”.

I still don’t understand a lot of the words, and some cases, just don’t like the songs or the androcentrism. However, I appreciate the flow and the creative artistry. Moreover, I am grateful to Chance the Rapper and others who use their music, like so many in my generation, for the healing of the nation. Understand some of it or not, thank you for keeping it your real.





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.