It is so encouraging to see the growth and development of young seminarians unfolding right before your very eyes. You are led to declare, what a mighty God we serve. Our students at Gammon Theological Seminary have a hunger for academic excellence, a spirit of collegiality, and a strong desire to be creatively and effectively involved in the ministry of the local church.
These are the men and women who have answered the Call of God for the ministry of word and sacrament. I am more encouraged by what I see in the lives of our current students and believe that the future of the church is bright. My prayer is that God will deliver them from any form of selfishness to the end that Jesus Christ will be glorified.
I am grateful for the opportunity to visit in congregations where our students are serving. My travels include a trip to Chattanooga, Montgomery, Marshall, TX (Wiley College), Augusta, GA (Paine College) and throughout North Georgia. We exist at Gammon for the benefit of the students. Without them there would be no reason for our doors to be open.
It is a great joy to be surrounded by students who hunger and thirst for the Living Word.
I seek the prayers and support from all persons of good will. Remember, together all things are possible. Amen.
We are encountering the reality of a hurting humanity. It is no fault of any of us, but the hurt exists in spite of us. Names ascribed to a male (Harvey) and a female (Irma) have connected to administer blows that knocked us down, but not out. Hand in Hand we will "Rise Up". All things are really possible when people of good will come together in the interest of the brothers and sisters who have been devastated by the two (2) hurricanes.
Our brothers and sisters out west are experiencing unusually high temperatures and raging wild fires. Too much water in some places and too little water in other places. Still, I am convinced that as a people of faith we shall overcome. Thanks be to God who gives us the victory.
Now, I want to express my deep and abiding gratitude to the students of Gammon Seminary for the tremendous support and love they provide in supporting me as their Dean. They are consistent in their commitment for academic excellence and in helping staff to be at our best.
We offer condolences to Clement Twumasi in the recent death of his grandfather in Ghana. Our Lord declared to be "the resurrection and the life". I believe Him and pray that you stand in agreement with me.
I was honored this week in having the opportunity to preach at the observance of Family and Friends Sunday at Columbia Drive UMC. It was a powerful worship experience in every way, from beginning to the end. Rev. Ralph Thompson is doing a great job as Servant Leader. The future of the congregation is very bright with new people joining almost every week.
Also, the invitation was extended to me to preach this week during the Chapel Service conducted by our Deans from each of the constituent denominations at the ITC. I suppose the new Dean receives the assignment.
Last week was most gratifying. I met with a couple who made a financial commitment to Gammon for one hundred dollars ($100) per month for sixty (60) months. What a commitment. Thanks be to God.
It is very encouraging to have a recent graduate from Paine College, with library experience, to help us with the Herculean task of bringing order to our archives. You will be proud of the work being done. Also, I am grateful for Dr. Walter McKelvey for helping to clear up some critical matters enabling us to move forward with clarity and integrity.
Remember that with God all things are possible.
Time is swiftly moving along. Thursday will mark the end of my second month at Gammon. It has been a time of challenge and excitement. There are a great number of things on the agenda that needs to be done very quickly. We are challenged due to the fact that many things have been neglected for a long period of time. The excitement arises when staff and our Gammon Ambassadors work together as a Championship Team in getting the jobs done, one at a time. The real credit goes to God.
It is now time for me to accelerate the speed in raising funds in support of the Scholarships for Scholars Initiative as well as the recruitment of students for matriculation at Gammon. I am now scheduling "one on one" conferences with a number of our pastors requesting to be included in the budget of their local churches. Also, I will be meeting with alumni in different sections of the country seeking financial support for our school. It is imperative for us to do a much better job in reaching many more students to prepare for ministry with us.
I want to encourage every graduate and former student of Gammon to attend the Founder's Day activities, December 4-5, 2017. You will be richly blessed because we intend to make you proud.
Remember, we can do all things together.
This past week was a roller coaster experience, fast, up and down with twists and turns. It started in the town of Charlottesville, Virginia where two opposing groups were exercising their constitutional right of free speech. The order of the day ended up in violence. Lives were lost, many were injured and others were arrested. A series of demonstrations sprung up in major centers across the nation and symbols of racism were taken down.
Our Commander in Chief obviously experienced his worst week while in office. The flow of his responses were most disturbing. He moved from being silent, to making a weak statement, to being politically correct, only to revealing the real insensitive self. He should not be expected to be what he is not - a moral leader. In the words of Michelle Obama, "When they go low, we go high". There is truth and power in her words. May they find a place in the inner recesses of our beings.
Classes start this week at the I. T. C. It is my prayer that God will bless every professor to be at his/her best in imparting information in such a way as to stimulate the hunger in the heart of every student to grow intellectually and spiritually. The need for well trained and committed clergy and Christian workers is greater now than ever before.
We are stepping into the future with the assurance that all things are possible, if we would only believe.
I have just returned from Inglewood, California where I represented Gammon in the Service of Celebration of Life for Mrs. Mary Frances Johnson Jefferson, a 1943 graduate of Gammon Theological Seminary. It was a tremendous experience and Gammon is positioned to be blessed by this new and renewed connection.
Now, the events of last week in Charlottesville, Virginia should stir the indignation of every American with a sensitivity to the plight of the nation under the leadership of a man who is always right and never wrong. Furthermore, the President refuses to call out persons responsible for leading in the acts of violence. The Church must be willing to take a stand and address the evil of the world as followers of Jesus Christ. In other words I ask, "what would Jesus do"?
On a happy note, congratulations are in order for Rev. Yvette Massey, Pastor of Central UMC, on recently being elected as President of the National Black Clergy Women. I pray that she will serve faithfully as a prophetic leader. Also, congratulations are extended to two of our Gammon students: Bobby Jones ('19), who has become a part of the ministerial team at Bethel UMC and Kylan Pew ('19), who has connected with Hoosier UMC. It is a win win situation for both congregation and student. Thanks to Reverend Gary Dean ('92) (Hoosier) and Reverend Dr. Michael Stinson ('06) (Bethel) for their assistance in helping our Gammon students prepare for Christian ministry. Thanks to the members of both congregations for sharing in this noble cause.
In the words of Dr. Earnest A. Smith, "Our time under God is now."
Together, we can do all things.
August signals the official beginning of the 2017-18 Academic Year at the ITC. The agenda includes New Student Orientation on Thursday, August 17th. This is a daylong session. We will conduct an Orientation Session on Friday morning for our Gammon students that will conclude with lunch at Paschal's. Our students will receive information unique to us as United Methodists. Classes will begin on Monday, August 21st. Join with us in praying for a productive school year.
A Special Meeting of the Board of Trustees has been called by Bishop James Swanson on August 21, 2017 at 10:00 a. m. with a limited agenda. I am grateful for the leadership provided by the members on the Board.
Let us remember in prayer the family of Mrs. Mary Frances Johnson Jefferson, a member of the Class of 1943 at Gammon. A Service Celebrating her Life will be held on Saturday, August 12th at Inglewood First UMC in California. I will represent Gammon at the service and preach at the Sunday morning Worship Service. A special offering will be received in support of Gammon. I am grateful for the Rev. Victor Cyrus-Franklin's agreeing to this act of generous love.
Please mark your calendar for December 5 & 6, 2017 for our Gammon Founder's Day and Thirkield-Jones Lecture Series. Your presence and support represent the keys to our success in moving forward.
Together, we can do all things.
Today concludes my first month as Interim President-Dean of Gammon Theological Seminary. There is a sense of awe and excitement over the generosity of God's grace. I am grateful for the prayers of family and friends, the untiring support of staff, the hospitality of students on campus, and the amazing trust invested in me by the Board of Trustees. A chronicle of my stewardship will be documented and presented to the Board of Trustees on August 21, 2017.
On another note, the American people have received a steady diet of controversy over the future of the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare". At the present time all attempts to repeal and replace have failed. Perhaps the way to move forward is to empower a bipartisan group of women in the Senate and charge them with the responsibility of crafting legislation that would meet the needs of the people. I pray that God will give our elected officials guidance in bringing order out of chaos.
Now, our schools are opening for the 2017-18 school year. It is my hope that the children will have our support, so that academic excellence will become a reality and not just another wonderful saying. I do, however, like the new and relevant declaration of the United Negro College Fund, "that a mind is a great thing to invest in". To that I say amen.
At this time, I am going all out in asking individuals and congregations to help me in supporting students at Gammon who are serious about their preparation for Christian Ministry. Please help me to help them, so that they are prepared and positioned to help others, from around the world. Go online at www.gammon-itc.org and give today. God will bless you abundantly.
Remember that together, we can do all things.
Peace and Power.
We live in a world "where the storms of life are raging", and there is a need to know that somebody cares. Human life is impacted by fear and doubt, violence and corruption, sickness and concern over the future of health care, disappointment in our leadership and the list goes on. There is a need for a healing of the nation and of the world. I believe that God has given us at Gammon Theological Seminary a part to play in this healing ministry.
The process of healing for the nation, the world and of individuals needs to begin immediately in the home, church, school and community. When servant leaders live out the calling on their lives, our change for the better will become a reality.
In my role as Interim President-Dean at Gammon, it is incumbent upon me to assist in the training of our spiritual leaders for the next generation. This means: Vision Casting, Fundraising, Student Recruitment, Motivation for Academic Excellence, and Servant Leadership. These five steps are guiding my life and our witness at Gammon.
The heart of our focus is grounded in the Initiative entitled, "SCHOLARSHIPS for SCHOLARS". We are very serious that all of our students excel academically. We will operate as a family, united in a common cause of Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World.
Please show that you care about our future and are committed to investing in the training of our future leaders by helping to underwrite the cost of this training. I ask that you send a hundred dollars ($100) or more, to help with this worthwhile cause. Please make checks payable to Gammon Theological Seminary or you can give online at: www.gammon-itc.org
Together we can usher in a healing of the nation, the world, and in the lives of many people. Thanks for helping us at Gammon to succeed in meeting this critical need.
I continue to be excited about my time at Gammon. On Sunday, July 9th, I worshipped at Hoosier UMC during the Celebration of their Thirty Fifth (35th) Church Anniversary. Revered Dr. Rodney Smothers, the first pastor, brought a powerful message. We had a full house in attendance, with music by the Reunion Choir.
On Thursday, July 13th, four of our Gammon students joined with me in accepting the invitation of Impact UMC to serve lunch to the staff at the Board of Global Ministries. It was a powerful experience with new relationships developed and opportunities opened for jobs and internships.
Then, on yesterday, July 16th, Marjorie, my sister Bernice and I worshipped at Columbia Drive UMC and I was again blessed by a powerful worship experience. Three (3) new members joined the Church. It was the observance of their Fifty Six (56th) Church Anniversary. We also celebrated the return of Rev. Ralph Thompson as the pastor.
The best is still yet to come at Gammon. Remember, together all things are possible. Peace.