On a recent visit to Alabama, Publisher, Bishop Marjorie Holt, had an opportunity to share the vision of The Interfaith Gazette Newspaper with Pastors and businesses that sent a wave of victory for the vision. Sharing the vision of The Interfaith Gazette Newspaper, and the gift of "bringing voices to print", came as a triumphant entrance as several listened at the possibility of expanding their ministries and churches throughout the Wiregrass area and communities in Southeast Alabama through the vehicle of newspaper.
Dothan, Alabama is located in Southeast Alabama and borders Florida and Georgia. Therefore it offers unlimited fellowship by, with, and among churches from all denominations and reformations and geographical locations. And this such fellowship was found to exist succinctly in the regularly Tuesday morning meetings that take place with Pastors whose responsibility it is to share the Sunday School lesson for the purpose of spreading theological perspective on the subject with their peers, homiletics, and how to present materials for a sermon. An enthusiastic group met on this Tuesday to do just that. However, one of the differences on this day was that they had opened the door for a guest from the outside, who was welcomed to share her vision with the group. And that guest was Publisher of the Interfaith Gazette Newspaper, whose task it was to share the vision of IFG.
As the Pastors eagerly listened to the vision of IFG, their welcoming introduction of smiles and nods, gave way to the possibility of furthering their visions. As I shared my "roots" on being deeply rooted in the wiregrass area during my developmental, formative years, it quickly gave way for the pastors to share their vision for the community by coming together for the case of unity among the brothers and sisters.
Pastor Harold McKissic Sr. President of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, I. M. A., shared with the Publisher the value that this group has in meeting weekly. He stated that their meetings are designed to further each of their ministries with growth through that of sharing, which is done in a teaching/lesson by Rev. Eddie Thomas, who has the responsibility for the homiletics. He also stated that the information shared is often times theme based, yet contextual in nature.
Rev. Robert L. Jones, host Pastor and Pastor of the North Highland Baptist Church, welcomed me to speak to the group. The meeting takes place at North Highland. And as the meeting continued, Pastors from different churches convened. One of such was Pastor James Dorsey, Pastor of the Countyline Missionary Baptist Church, Slocomb, Ala. He stated that he is proud to be a member of the group as he has been connected for 15 years. He is grateful because the members reached out to him as a young preacher, assisting him in his educational goals. He stated that the group has grown over the years and the African American body is well represented through the association.
Another individual who was also present was Rev. Paul Cowley. He stated that he appreciates the connection because it serves as great fellowship shared by all and that is irreplaceable for him, that it's relevant and meaningful. President McKissic also paid homage to one of the longest attending members of the group, Pastor Paul Grider. He further stated that the group is open to all regardless of denomination or gender. He welcomes any Pastor to join them as they meet weekly.
And as the meetings and gatherings continued during my return to my roots, another opportunity to connect and share the vision took place at one of the churches that was influential in shaping my world view and perspective on life; and that was Allen Temple COGIC. Being back on the grounds of such a historical place was just what was needed in corroborating with the Pastor, Dr. M. Earl Pulliam, as to what God had done and how the vision of Interfaith Gazette was encouraging and promising. In fact, he sowed a seed right on the spot after hearing about it. What a blessing to return to these grounds.
As the day progressed, another church in the Wiregrass area who welcomed the opportunity to share the vision was the historic Greater Beulah Baptist Church under the leadership of Pastor Dr. Rayford Malone. Having been the Shepherd for four years at Greater Beulah, Pastor Malone states that his journey has been a worthwhile and amazing opportunity to be at the helm of this house of God. He is not a neophyte in building the people of God. Greater Beulah is the third pastorate for him. He hails the area from the state of Texas, where he began a life of servanthood rebuilding and shaping the lives of people that would change the world. Pastor Malone is realistic about the challenges that he faces, yet optimistic that Greater Beulah is built for this time to rise and shine, giving God the praise and glory as it continues to progress onward, even in the midst of some past tumultuous times.
It is no doubt in my mind that the three churches that I had an opportunity to visit, Greater Beulah Baptist Church, North Highland Baptist Church, and Allen Temple Church of God In Christ, are alive and well and positioned to impact lives and change a generation. Our prayers are with Pastor Dr. Rayford Malone, Pastor Robert Jones, and Dr. M. Earl Pulliam, as they continue to serve the people of God in meekness with an intentional desire to please God. My time with all of you was worth it, well spent, and thanks for the open arms and warm welcome: To God be the Glory! I look forward to the future as we build upon new relationships. Again, thanks to each of you! Blessings.