By Allison Trussell
FLORENCE—God will empower each generation to do what He has called them to do. That was the message given to the United Methodist African-American clergywomen during their Annual Conference luncheon Monday, June 6.
Dr. Betty Deas Clark, pastor of Mother Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, was the guest speaker, and she challenged her fellow clergywomen to learn the lessons offered to Joshua when he took over for Moses.
“Be strong. Be courageous,” Clark said, noting that Joshua is told this three times in the Scripture of Joshua 1:1-18.
Clark, the first woman to lead Mother Emanuel, said there are three lessons to take from Joshua’s assumption of leadership. First, you must be a follower before you can answer the call to be a leader. There are things to be learned at the back of the line that you’ll need at the front of the line, she said.
Second, before you can lead others to change, God wants you to change. If you haven’t made the commitment to God’s ministry, why should anyone follow you?
Clark’s third point was that you must remember the past in order to lead forward. But she cautioned against putting all your trust in mankind.
“God gave Joshua the challenge to accept the reality of the moment. … Moses is dead. Let him stay dead,” she said. “You’ve got to lead through the vision given to you by God.” While Joshua received the challenge to lead, he was also given a promise and the assurance that God would be with him as well as a choice of what kind of leader he would be.
“If God has called you to be a leader,” Clark challenged the women, “then you’ve got a charge to keep. Sometimes to move forward on that charge, you must be strong and courageous. You’re required to look above and around those who want to lead you in the wrong direction,” she said.
More than 260 clergy and laity—the largest gathering in recent years—received Clark’s message with enthusiastic exclamation.
The clergywomen recognized retiring pastor the Rev. J. Jeannetté Cooper, as well as those commissioned as provisional elders (Eleanora Ellington and LaTonya Dash) and ordained as full elders (Lillian Davis, Sharon Gamble and Doris Bright).
The Rev. Redonia Thomas offered special music.