Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Curriculum for the 
22nd Annual CME Convocation
September 30 – October 3, 2008
Knoxville, TN

     Senior Bishop William H. Graves (Host Bishop), Bishop Paul A.G. Stewart (Convocation Chairman) and Bishop Thomas L. Brown (Program Chairman) along with the members of the Convocation Committee are working diligently in anticipation of this year’s Annual Convocation in Knoxville, TN. While planning for the many summer activities on our schedule of events, Dr. Tyrone Davis (Convocation Director) is also encouraging early registration for the Convocation in September. In light of the increased emphasis on the curriculum and class topics and themes, Dr. Carmichael Crutchfield (Convocation Curriculum Director) has provided the following overview of what you can expect in the classes.
     The front cover of “Rev!” magazine reads ‘Is the American Church in Crisis’? The article goes on to delineate the decline of the American Church by examining attendance trends in several mainline denominations. It then gives some suggestions for reversing this movement.
     Although the aforementioned article is worthy of consideration, the 22nd Convocation has decided rather than dwell on crisis and decline to offer classes that lift up ideas for transforming our faith. We have chosen a textbook as the basis for our study. It is entitled “Christianity for the Rest of Us” written by Diana Butler Bass.
     The book is a story of the research and findings of Bass as she listened to congregations. She asks the question, “Why do some succeed?” (p. 9) She is interested in spiritual community and the local expression of such community in congregations. Our classes will delve into her interest and look for ways to strengthen our own congregations.
     Bass uses the metaphor pilgrimage throughout her book with the idea that there is a destination. She says on page 11, “Emerging Christianity is about change—about changing from spiritual tourists to pilgrims—about transforming ourselves, our congregations, and our communities.
     Echoing the sentiments of Bass’ book, if you are satisfied with your local congregation, if you like the kind of Christianity that offers certainty and order in an age of change, if you think church is about closing your eyes; then the classes below are not for you. They are not for the comfortable, the certain, and religiously content. You are invited to pilgrimage through the classes at the convocation. You are encouraged to purchase the book that will be available to you at a discounted rate this summer. There are churches finding new life in the face of change.

The Classes

1. Where Everybody Knows Your Name
What are the practices of the local church that welcome others? Hospitality sometimes is relegated to a committee who seems to have as its goal to gain members for the church. This class is designed to examine the local church practice of hospitality and seek ways that improve the practice and lead to renewal and transformation of the local church.

2. Paying Attention
“Discernment requires that we pay attention,” writes Catholic theologian Wendy Wright; it “is about feeling texture, assessing weight, watching the plumb line, listening for overtones, searching for shards, feeling the quickening, and surrendering to love.” You have to pay attention when you are not entirely sure where you are going. This class is designed to visit the ancient church practice of Discernment with the purpose of discovering how hearing, seeing, touching and feeling God leads to church renewal and transformation.

3. Do you want to be healed?
We are all broken and in need of God’s healing. All sickness is not physical. Brokenness comes from the damage and power of sin. Healing is not always instant, but more often takes place over a process of transformation. The design of this class is to delve into the ancient practice of healing and seek ways it has relevance today in the local church in regards to bringing transformation and renewal in the local church.

4. Let all the earth keep silent
In the 21st century we spend a tremendous amount of money, time and energy to be connected. We use the Internet and many technologies, such as Blackberries, I Phones, and wireless networks, to connect with others. But how good are we as people of faith in connecting to ourselves, families, our communities and with God? The design of this class is to investigate the practice of contemplation and being silent and how this practice might transform and renew the local church.

5. Talk it Out
The entire New Testament is a testimony, a record of the experiences that early Christians had with the transformative power of God. Our early church experiences in the United States put great emphasis on testimony. This class is designed to evaluate the power of the practice of testimony to transform and renew the local church.

6. A Piece of the puzzle
As the demographics of our land changes what are we to do in our local churches? Are we to ignore that our neighbors are changing in their cultural outlook and maybe their race isn’t black? How diverse is the local church? Is our local church or denomination the whole puzzle or a piece of it? This class is designed to help us acknowledge the power of diversity in transforming and renewing the local church.

7. Let Justice Roll
Theologian Walter Wink writes, “The Powers That Be are not, then, simply people and their institutions, as I had first thought; they also include the spirituality at the core of those institutions and structures. If we want to change those systems, we will have to address not only their outer forms, but their inner spirit as well.” This class is designed to address how practicing justice, being the hands and feet of Christ, transforms and renews faith in a local church.

8. Merry, Merry, Merry
What is worship? What is its purpose? The design of this class is to look at how “worship needs to be an experience of God, rather than a reflection about God,” and how it moves from the head to the heart. In particular this class is designed to see how worship as celebration transforms and renews the local church.

9. All My Mind
All people of the church are theologians. The trouble comes when we do not activate our theological intellect. This class is designed to see that God calls us to love God with our entire mind, thus, thinking theologically is essential to the transformation and renewal of the local church.

10. Spiritual Revolution

     The summer of 2005 Newsweek magazine claimed in a cover story that Americans are looking for “spirituality” and not “religion.” The design of this class is to flesh out what this means and if it is true, what are the implications for the transformation and renewal of the local church?

You may inquire about additional information at (901) 345-4100.

We look forward to seeing you in Knoxville for the 2008 Annual CME Convocation!
     Submitted by General Secretary of Personnel Services Dr. Tyrone T. Davis.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mississippi Industrial College Properties Sold to Rust College
On Wednesday, August 13, 2008, in Holly Springs, MS, the 63-acre plot that formerly housed the Mississippi Industrial College and surrounding properties, was sold to Rust College (a United Methodist institution) by officials of the General Board of Personnel Services, Inc. acting under the auspices of the CME CDC (Community Development Corporation) after holding the property for approximately 25 years.
After soul searching and prayerful consideration, it was decided to sell the property to the 142 year-old Rust College, a fellow institution sharing the same main street in Holly Springs with Mississippi Industrial College for 103 years, which bolsters the opportunities for higher education in the Holly Springs/north Mississippi area. The two colleges, arms of two sister denominations, have shared similar mission objectives for all of the years of their existence. Bishop Thomas L. Brown, Sr., Presiding Bishop of the Fourth Episcopal District and Bishop Paul A. G. Stewart, Sr., Chair of the General Board of Personnel Services and a graduate of MI College, have both expressed their desire that these newly acquired properties by Rust College become part of a plan for increased educational opportunities for young people.
The decision to sell the property was influenced by several factors including 1) the continued depreciation, decline and deterioration of the property, 2) the continued cost to service the debt on the property, 3) the inability to continue to secure property and casualty insurance (fire insurance and liability insurance) because of the deterioration of the property, 4) the limitations of the use and restoration of the property because of the historic status of the property, and 5) the inability to generate and/or secure funding for the restoration of the property.
In the early 1980’s, the General Board of Personnel Services (acting on behalf of the CME Church) proceeded to redeem the properties when the College went into bankruptcy and made the first investment in the reclamation of the properties. Several options were proposed for the use of the land such as a health rehabilitation center and, more recently, a housing development plan which would include low and moderate-income single family housing, senior housing, rental housing, and commercial units. After considering a myriad of unsuccessful funding proposals including the sale of Church sponsored bonds, solicitation of a bond proposal through the City of Holly Springs, partnerships with investment entities, and funding from philanthropic entities over this 25 year period, the increased cost of maintaining the property coupled with investments to qualify for certain funding opportunities led to an accumulated debt of approximately $1.8 million (including a $975,000 mortgage with a current balance of $685,811 and accrued interest of $27,752). The $1.1 million sale of the property leaves approximately $700,000 in outstanding unsecured debts owed to entities, Episcopal Districts and individuals.
  Although the property was deeded in the name of the General Board of Personnel Services, the Board, serving primarily as fiscal agent for the properties, lent its financial and credit history to the support of the project, but at the request of the College of Bishops and the Board of Directors of the CME Church, it was delegated to the CDC the responsibility of developing strategic funding proposals and other important decisions regarding the MI College Properties. After considering the magnitude of the potential liabilities that would threaten the CDC and the CME Church because of the insurance exposure, the increasing costs to service the debt and pay down principal, and the additional impact of such losses on the operational ability of the General Board of Personnel Services to perform day-to-day operations, the CDC approved the sale to Rust College and directed the General Board of Personnel Services to conclude the transaction. Both entities, the CDC and the General Board of Personnel Services were pleased that this resulting transaction allows this historic property, which is dear in the memory of the CME Church, to continue to be used for educational purposes for the benefits of persons in the Northern Mississippi and surrounding areas.
At the sale and representing the CME CDC Chairman, Retired Bishop Marshall Gilmore, was Bishop Thomas L. Brown, Sr., Vice Chairman of the CME CDC. Signing on behalf of Rust College was Dr. David L. Beckley, President. Signing on behalf of the General Board of Personnel Services were Bishop Paul A.G. Stewart, Sr., Chairman of the Board and Presiding Bishop of the Third Episcopal District, Mr. Matthew R. Davis III, Secretary of the Board and Reverend Dr. Tyrone T. Davis, General Secretary of the Board.
Submitted by General Secretary of Personnel Services Dr. Tyrone T. Davis.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Funeral Arrangements for Rev. Dr. Charles H. Belcher

Services in St Louis, MO

St. John AME Church
1908 North Kings Highway Blvd
Saint Louis, Mo 63113
(314) 361-8236

Presiding Elder, C. Jessel Strong, Presiding Officer
Rev. Donald Hunter, Eulogist
Viewing 10:00 - 11:00
Services 11:00 AM

Austin Layne Mortuary
7239 W. Florrissant Ave
Saint Louis, Mo 63113 (314) 382-1214

Services in Berkeley, CA

Monday, August 18, 2008
Family Hour: 6 - 8 PM

Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Services 10:00 AM
St. Paul AME Church
2024 Ashby Avenue
Berkeley, California 94703
(510) 848-2050

Rev. Dr. Allen L. Williams, Pastor
Presiding Elder, Vernon S. Burroughs, Presiding Officer
Rt. Rev. T. Larry Kirkland, Presiding Prelate
5th Episcopal District, Eulogist

Fouches Hudson Funeral Home
3665 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland, Calif. 94609
(510) 654-8558

Cards and correspondences can be sent to
Mrs. Doris Marie Denson-Belcher
4324 W. Pine Blvd
Saint Louis, Mo 63108-2206

Monday, August 04, 2008

Funeral Arrangements for Mrs. Zora Bell Crutchfield

The funeral arrangements for Mrs. Zora Bell Crutchfield, mother of Dr. Carmichael Crutchfield is as follows:

Visitation, Friday, August 8, 2008, from 6 to 8 PM
RAWLS Funeral Home
790 Highway 69 N
Paris, TN 38242
Phone 731-642-1515
FAX 731-642-8368

Funeral is Saturday, August 9, 2008 at 11:00 AM
Barrs Chapel CME Church
5560 Briarpatch Lake Road
Paris, TN 38242
(actually located about 10 miles west of Paris in Como community with the above listed address)

Mrs.Zora Bell Crutchfield was 79 years of age. She had been ill for the last six months. Dr. Crutchfield is one of seven children (three brothers and three sisters.)

Please keep the Crutfield family in your thoughts and prayers.

Juanita Bryant
Executive Secretary
CME Church