The Christian Education Programs at Gammon Theological Seminary hosted eight retreats in five months. On February 18th of this year, I implemented a series of eight retreats, designed to equip, and educate, faithful and creative leaders, to enhance their call to ministry. Our participants were students, clergy, laity, and the community; regardless of faith preference, everyone was welcome.
The Clergy Retreat: Renew, Refresh and Reconnect, offered workshops titled: Remembering Your Call and Who Called You, Reconciling Broken Communities, and Building Bridges Together Church and Community to name a few. These workshops challenged the participants to revisit their call, and to do it often. One of the workshops leaders used storytelling, symbols, and images to help people remember their call.
The Spiritual Retreat: Pathway to Physical, Mental and Spiritual Renewal, focused on the body, mind, and spirit. One of the workshop leaders provided different ways to preserve ourselves despite the obstacles we deal with in our everyday lives.
The Writers Retreat: Gifted Hands and Gifted Minds allowed participants to dig deeper and share their stories, while also, reminding them that our stories are someone else's healing. The participants were challenged to find a place and time to write without interruptions.
The retreats were three to four days long, with a diverse group of professional workshop leaders who shared a wealth of knowledge at each workshop. If you missed out on attending our 2019 retreats, by popular demand they will be back in 2020! Please visit our website under Christian Education to keep informed. http://www.gammon-itc.org/christian-education.html.
Grace and Peace,
Minister Bennefield, M.Div.
On Jan. 15, 1969, at the first memorial service to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his birthday, nine months after his assassination, photographers from national media outlets descended upon Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta to cover the event. While most of the professionals left the service early to meet press deadlines, one photographer remained to capture the tribute and to also take some photographs at Dr. King’s grave-site — Horace Henry.
Henry, a 21-year-old student from Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University), had grabbed a camera as an afterthought on his way out the dorm that morning as he and some fellow Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity brothers got on their way to honor King. “None of us knew that we were going to get inside the church”.
Upon arrival at the service and maneuvering his way to the very back of the church inside sanctuary, someone, seeing the camera around Henry’s neck, ushered him to the front of the church. Nervously, he began to do his best to take photos despite the fact that he had no idea how to operate the camera, which his brother had just sent to him from overseas.
Henry captured events that day in over 40 black and white photographs. The pictures include such notables in the civil rights movement as Coretta Scott King; Harry Belafonte; the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. and his wife Alberta Williams King; Ralph David Abernathy; Andrew Young and Rosa Parks. They are all included in his book “One Day In January”. This is the largest private collection of (and the only one known to exist in the world) photographs taken at the first birthday celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Henry said the photos he took at Ebenezer 46 years ago recorded an important time in U.S. history, as the service laid the groundwork for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance we celebrate today.
“It chronicles the ecumenical service which led to a national holiday and the significance of that is that the national media had to get in and get the photos and get out, but I was fortunate enough to record all of the program on film. It’s a clear documentation of what happened that day,” he said.
Henry said he kept the photos in a shoe box for years, until friends encouraged him to publish a book of the pictures. He also contacted the Smithsonian National Museum to see if they had any interest in the photos, and the museum sent a curator to his house.
“(The curator) said, ‘Mr. Henry, we must have this collection at the Smithsonian,’” said Henry.
Henry donated the photos to become part of the permanent collection at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Photo collections at the museum rotate, and he hopes his collection called “One Day In January” will be on display soon. The Collection is already available at the Museum on computer.
“Long after (we) are gone, the photos will be there for everyone to enjoy,” said Henry.
To learn more about Horace Henry’s book or to purchase a copy, visit http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/3148278 or email him at email@example.com.
SAVE THE DATE!!!
2019 Gammon’s Founders’ Day
December 3-4, 2019
Theme: Behold the Vision: Unity!
Time is fast approaching!! Gammon Theological Seminary is once again preparing to celebrate its 136th founding as the only African-American seminary in the United Methodist Church. The Founders’ Day Committee, under the leadership of Rev. Donald K. Reed, has planned an event sure to be exciting for the students, alums and friends of Gammon.
Expect to experience the dynamic, prophetic preaching of two powerful women: 1) Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, from the Baltimore-Washington Conference, during the Opening Worship Service on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 10:45 a.m., in the Gammon Chapel. In an historic election, in July 2016, Bishop Easterling became the first woman to lead the 233 year old Baltimore-Washington Conference. 2) Rev. Dr. Neichelle R. Guidry, Dean of Sisters Chapel at Spelman College, during the Closing Worship Service on Wednesday, December 4, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. in the Gammon Chapel. In 2015, Ebony Magazine recognized Dr. Guidry as quickly becoming one of her generation’s most powerful female faith leaders.
Dr. F. Douglas Powe, Jr., a forerunner in African American evangelism and the James C. Logan Professor of Evangelism at Wesley Theological Seminary, will be our 80th Thirkield-Jones Lecturer on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. and Wednesday, December 4, 2019 at 9:15 a.m. His newest book, Transforming Community: The Wesleyan Way to Missional Congregations, co-authored with H. Henry Knight III, provides insights into the missional focus of the Wesleyan movement. The 2019 Trailblazer Justice Award will be presented to Dr. James H. Salley, Associate Vice Chancellor for Africa University. Dr. Salley is a true visionary of institutional advancement for students both in America and in Africa. He is also a distinguished leader and influential fundraiser in the United Methodist Church. As the Banquet Speaker on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 7:00 p.m., at the Atlanta Airport Marriott, Dr. Salley’s oratorical skills and passion for being a generous giver will certainly challenge and inspire every attendee. During the Banquet, special honor and recognition will be given to Rev. Tiffanie C. Postell (class of 2014) as the 2019 Emerging Prophetic Leader. With the true heart of a servant-leader whose Christian philosophy comes from Luke 22:27, Rev. Postell, the senior pastor at Newnan United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Louisiana, has embraced her ministry journey with a love for God’s people.
Remember - - Save the Date! Join us – Gammon, the “school of the prophets,” for our 136th Celebration. Registration Deadline is Friday, November 15, 2019. You can also register online at: www.gammon-itc.org and follow the link for 2019 Founders’ Day.
Rev. Sandy Hall
Office of the President-Dean
Fall is my favorite season of the year. There seems to always be a crispness in the air. Back to school, football games, sweaters and scarves. For me, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. So about a year ago, when fall actually felt like fall, I got an email asking if I would consider serving as the captain of the Atlanta Alumni Chapter for Gammon. I didn’t know we had an Atlanta Alumni Chapter. The email went on to say that the chapter had been dormant for some time. I prayed about it and said yes.
On March 9, 2019, we held our initial planning meeting for the Metro Atlanta Alumni Chapter at Gammon Hall. Seven people were present including four alumni and three friends of Gammon. After a lively fellowship with food and a review of the national alumni bylaws, the following elections were made: President-Kimberlyn Sinkfield, Secretary-Keya Hillman, Treasurer-Debra Stewart, and Chaplain-Johnnetta Johnson. We are excited to serve and after continued prayer, I presented to Dean Walden the idea of changing the name of the chapter to the North Georgia Alumni Chapter so that all alumni living in North Georgia would be included. He agreed.
Our next chapter gathering was held on October 3, 2019 at Mt. Bethel UMC in Marietta, GA where alumni Jody Ray is the senior pastor. We were met with exceptional hospitality and the food was amazing. There were 11 persons in attendance (eight alumni and three friends of Gammon).
Gammon is still the School of Prophets and there is still much that must be done. I would like to officially invite all alumni living in North Georgia to join us. The best way to stay informed to join our Facebook page @GammonNorthGAAlumniChapter. Stay tuned for more information.
Rev. Kimberlyn S. Sinkfield (2012)
On January 1, 2020, I will complete my three-year term as the President of the Gammon Alumni Association (GAA). Being one of the thousands of alumni who were blessed to attend the “School of the Prophets”, I vow to do all that I can to support Gammon Theological Seminary (GTS). Though my term as President may be coming to an end, the work will indeed proceed.
I firmly believe the power of the alumni of Gammon has yet to be realized. Gammon Theological Seminary has the potential to be an amazing institution if our alumni would consider it more often. The vast majority of our alumni either give little or nothing at all. I thank God for those few alumni that consistently remember Gammon.
I also believe that many would give more if they knew their options. With that being said, the Gammon Alumni Association is working avidly to make it easier for alumni everywhere to give back. Here are the ways we can all help:
By: James C. Anyike, President of the Gammon Alumni Association
Greetings Gammon Alum and Friends,
I hope you are doing well. The month of October brings a variety of special days, such as Yom Kippur, United Nations Day, and Halloween. It may currently feel like the month of July, because of the hot temperatures reaching over 90 degrees for several weeks in many parts of the United States of America, but it is the month of October.
During this month of October, I attended a wonderful gathering of Gammon Alums and Friends of the North Georgia Conference of The UMC at Mt. Bethel UMC located in Marietta, GA. The Gammon gathering included delicious food, thoughtful conversations, and soulful prayers. It is a wonderful time to be a Gammon Alum and Friend!
Gammon will host CPE Day on October 24th at 11am-1pm. I invite everyone to attend this event. A variety of chaplains from hospitals, military, and other arenas will bring their information to Gammon Theological Seminary to offer to students, alums, and friends for the exploration of possibilities. I encourage you to visit The Center For Chaplaincy at Gammon Theological Seminary’s resource page.
Millions of Christians will prepare during October for “All Saints Sunday” on November 3, 2019. Many saints from the past helped to build a solid foundation for Gammon Theological Seminary. Read the following books to learn more about some of the significant history of Gammon Theological Seminary:
1. “Africa and the American Negro: Addresses and Proceedings of the Congress on Africa: Held under the Auspices of the Stewart Missionary Foundation for Africa of Gammon Theological Seminary in Connection with the Cotton States and International Exposition December 13-15, 1895.” by John Wesley Edward Bowen (1896)
2. “Methodist Adventures in Negro Education” by Jay S. Stowell (1922)
3. “Black Awareness: A Theology of Hope” by Major J. Jones (1971)
Gammon Theological Seminary is fortunate to have been blessed by saints of the past and saints of the present working diligently for this “School Of The Prophets.” Prophets are still needed today. Join us in spreading God’s messages of hope, love, forgiveness, and redemption!
Grace and Peace,
Ken J. Walden, PhD
Gammon Theological Seminary
Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision the people perish, but happy is he who keeps the teaching.” After the vision is made plain, it is to be continually shared and taught to people as it grows, becoming reality. Writing is very important seminary trained stained learn that writing is telling stories. Even Jesus loved telling stories. As a matter of fact, most of his teachings were through storytelling. If we write the vision down, it will come to life.
At Gammon Theological Seminary we understand the importance of writing and storytelling and we want our secular, academic and church communities to access to this knowledge. On July 22 – 25, 2019, Gammon hosted its first Writers Retreat and it was a tremendous success. Dr. Daniel Black presented a workshop entitled “Am I Saying it Right? Precision and Exactitude in the Art of Writing”; Ms. Vikki Jones owner of VHM Publisher presented a workshop “Getting Published” and Rev. Cynthia Jackson presented workshop was called “Writing and Self-Publishing”. One of our facilitator said “there are people waiting to hear your story and they will only hear it through your voice-tone. Open your mouth and tell your story!”
Habakkuk 2:2 says, “And the Lord answered me: Write the vision, and make it plain on tablets, that he who reads it may run.” When it is written down and implemented, those you lead can ‘run’ with it and all will see it succeed!
Gammon’s next Writers Retreat is schedule for August 19- 22. We hope invite YOU to join us in learning new tools so that you are inspired to write and tell YOUR own story.
For more information visit us at gammon-itc.org.
We would like to first thank our partners for allowing our Gammon students to be part of your community. The purpose of a church internship is to give seminary students practical ministry experience in the church. Theological education is very important, however, experiencing ministry practical setting is priceless.
If you are in need of an intern, feel free to call us at 404.581.0300 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
2018-2019 Church Intern:
Nicolas Pettye - - North Decatur UMC
Christopher Weems - - Calvary UMC
Kylan Pew - - East Point First Mallalieu UMC
Paul McReynolds - - Conyers First UMC
Brenton Lopez --Conyers First UMC
Ray Allen - - Cliftondale UMC
Marcharkelti McKenzie -- Newnan Chapel UMC
Brenisha Sherman -- Headland Heights
The sanctuary of Fellowship Community Church was filled with family members and friends gathered to honor the graduating class on May 11 from The Interdenominational Theological Center (The ITC)/ Gammon Theological Seminary Celebration of Degrees and Academic Achievements.
Seventy five students received their Master of Divinity diplomas from The Interdenominational Theological Center (The ITC), including 21 Doctoral graduates. From this, Gammon graduated 1 doctoral students and 8 seminary students with M.Div. and/or M.A.C.E.
Judge Penny Reynolds Brown was the 2019 Commencement speaker. Judge Penny's life work includes social justice advocacy, legal expert, entrepreneur, former jurist, mediator, and public theologian. She graduated first in her class, with highest honors and a perfect 4.0 GPA from the Interdenominational Theological Center (I.T.C.), Atlanta, Georgia, earning a Master’s degree and receiving the James H. Costen Award for Excellence as an Emerging Leader.
Life… it is full of moments – ups and downs – that define our existence by testing the very core of our humanity. This is arguably the most inevitable phenomenon of life even as members of the Church. However, what does not always arise within us is a willingness to embrace and learn from life’s countless tests, especially for us, the Church. Unfortunately, in many instances we are sanctimoniously confident that our ideological convictions are precise and unadulterated, we have nothing much more to learn concerning the divine or the world around us, and we speak inerrantly and absolutely for God to others as if God does not ever speak through others to us. Since these realities often drive unforgiving walls of self-righteous piety between the Church and the world, in my opinion, what is ultimately more important is not the fact that we merely exist as a group called the “Church” but that we become human enough to allow the very core of who we are to be shaped by life. We must also value the experiences that perpetuate the life-long process of our shaping as human beings and as Christians. For me, one of these pivotal experiences was unquestionably the 2019 special session of the United Methodist Church’s General Conference.
Since the core matters of discussion were same-sex marriage and same-gender-loving clergypersons, it was quite enlightening to experience firsthand the impassioned sentiments of those who were on opposing sides of the debate. Having come from a theologically conservative household, I most often had heard theological rhetoric concerning homosexuality that was conservative, rigid, and exclusive. The language was centered in a theological conviction that God designed humanity to be procreational making only heterosexual union pleasing to God as it can produce offspring. Conversely, it was at a circle discussion activity organized for seminary students that I intimately experienced the theological views of people who differed just as passionately. With listening ears and an open heart, I was able to hear the testimonies of persons who mentor youth and young adults who are same-gender-loving and those of persons who are same-gender-loving and devastated by the UMC’s conservative vote on the matter that evening. I also witnessed the tears of those who endured years of confusion, ostracization, and self-hatred because of sexual feelings that they did not choose. They had finally reached a personal breakthrough when their feelings of shame were met by God’s unconditional love. However, they suffered a new disappointment when the UMC ruled that openly embracing all of who they are made them unfit for ministry and marriage within the UMC. Sitting with them in solidarity and simply listening, an act that many fellow believers are often unwilling to do, reshaped my embedded theology considerably since there was no theology that I had ever heard that could justify to me such exclusion. If homosexuality is a “sin” that makes persons unfit for ministry and marriage, then what about all the other sins that we all commit unapologetically or unknowingly… does (or should) God then render us all “unfit”? Does God have a hierarchy for sin or is the hierarchy sustained by human bias? Bearing in mind that we are United Methodists and not Roman Catholics, is this religiously socialized hierarchy of sin a legitimate Protestant doctrine? These are all theological and theodicean questions that reshaped my thoughts and heart during this life-changing moment.
The 2019 Special Session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church taught me that we as human vessels called the Church exist with at least two very critical blessings having been bestowed upon us. First, we are endowed with the ability to be shaped – intellectually, spiritually, and ethically – by life as opposed to simply having to exist. Second, we are granted didactic experiences that are divinely designed to be the instruments by which we are shaped. If we, the Church, a family of imperfect people who are not omniscient, do not humbly embrace the lessons that life’s experiences have to offer, then I fear that the righteous walls that we build would quell our growth and ability to spread transformative love and fulfill the Great Commission.