Bishop T. Larry Kirkland (right) greets (from left) Rev. Dr. Clement Fugh, Host Pastor John J. Hunter, and retired Bishop H. Hartford Brookins. (photo by C.J. Fossett)
By Cora Jackson-FossettSentinel Religion Editor
Concluding the 87th Session of the Southern California Conference and Fifth District Planning Meeting earlier this week, Bishop T. Larry Kirkland Sr. proclaimed ‘success' upon the annual gathering of thousands of African Methodists.
"I'm extremely pleased with the results of the Conference and Planning Meeting," declared Bishop Kirkland, presiding prelate of the 5th Episcopal District and president of the denomination's General Board.
"We are now spiritually and literally equipped to implement those programs and activities that will positively impact our churches and communities in a substantive way," he said as he and Episcopal Supervisor Mary L. Kirkland completed the services, sessions, and business to guide the district over the next year.
The Rev. Dr. John J. Hunter, First Lady Denise Hunter and the members of First African Methodist Episcopal Church - LA hosted both programs at the Los Angeles Airport Hilton Hotel from October 24 through November 1.
Among the notable participants were Bishop Sarah F. Davis, presiding prelate of the 16th Episcopal District of the A.M.E. Church; retired Bishop H. Hartford Brookins, retired Bishop John Hurst Adams, Rev. Dr. Clement Fugh, Chief Information Officer of the A.M.E. Church; Rev. Taurus Myhand, pastor of Wayman A.M.E. Church in St. Louis, MO; Rev. J. Edgar Boyd, pastor of Bethel A.M.E. Church in San Francisco; Rev. Dr. Williams Epps, pastor of historic Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles; Rev. Mose A. Jones, pastor of Greater Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Houston, TX; L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, and L.A. City Councilwoman Jan Perry.
"I'm very honored to be invited by Bishop Kirkland. This has been a great experience sharing with him," said Bishop Adams who was elected to the episcopacy in 1972 while serving as pastor of Grant A.M.E. Church in South Los Angeles.
"I've had a joyful journey for 60 years in the A.M.E. ministry and if we come to God by faith, He will do wonderful things. There's nothing more joyous than a church that serves the people," he added.
During the week, Supervisor Kirkland presided over the Women's Missionary Society Annual Convention as well as the Academy Awards banquet presented in conjunction with the Young People's Department. Also, Women In Ministry (WIM), the Lay Organization, and the Conference Choir presented programs and workshops.
In addition, powerful sermons were delivered by Presiding Elder Shermella Garrett at the WIM Luncheon, Rev. Mary S. Minor at the Opening Worship Service, and Bishop Adams during the Closing and Commissioning Worship Service held at New Philadelphia A.M.E. Church in Rancho Dominquez.
At one point in the closing worship, the sanctuary became suddenly dark due to a burning transformer on an outside telephone pole. Assuring Bishop Kirkland and New Philadelphia Pastor Darryl Walker that parishioners were in no danger, Southern California Edison and L.A. County Fire Department officials worked to correct the problem.
Bishop Kirkland confidently expressed to the congregation, "We can still praise God even in the dark, just as Paul and Silas did in the book of Acts." And the spirited worship continued until the lights were restored 45 minutes later.
Announcing the pastoral assignments for 2011-2012 conference year, Bishop Kirkland reappointed many L.A. area pastors including Rev. Dr. Hunter, Rev. Dr. Kelvin Calloway of Bethel, Rev. Dr. C. Dennis Williams of Brookins Community, Rev. Joseph Nixon of Ward, Rev. Darryl Walker of New Philadelphia, Rev. Dr. Clyde Oden of Bryant Temple, Rev. Mark Whitlock of Christ Our Redeemer, Rev. Michael Eagle of St. Mark, Rev. Reuben Ford of First - Santa Monica, Rev. Kenny Baker of Allen Chapel -San Bernardino, Rev. Vernon Burroughs of Grant -LA, Rev. Allen Williams of First - Pasadena, and Rev. John Cager of Second.
Rev. Najuma Smith-Pollard decided to step down from being pastor of St. James in Los Angeles to attend graduate school. The new pastor is Rev. Dr. Elmer Redding, formerly of Price Chapel.
Also, Rev. Dr. Fisher Hines retired as pastor of Grant - Long Beach. Rev. Myhand was assigned to lead the church.
Others receiving new pastoral appointments were Rev. Cedric Alexander, Price Chapel, Los Angeles; Rev. Roslynn Brookins, Walker Temple; Rev. Dewaine Jackson, Bethel - Barstow; Rev. Steve Atkins, Grace - Temecula; and Rev. Theodore Payne IV, A.K. Quinn - Moreno Valley.