By Lydia Derr
(pictured above: Dancers perform during the Closing Ceremony on Friday, June 13.)
“Our going to church on Sunday is like placing one’s ear to another’s chest to hear to unquenchable murmur of the human heart,” remarked writer Richard Wright.
Though it was not Sunday, such was the case Friday, the last day of the 121st Session of the Western North Carolina Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Spread across the Grand Pavilion Ballroom of the Embassy Suites were reverent worshippers who traveled from across the state to Winston-Salem for three days of meetings, seminars, prayer gatherings and other spirited activities.
“We had an optimistic time together,” said Right Rev. William P. DeVeaux Sr., Presiding Bishop of the Second Episcopal District of the AME Church. “All … went very well.”
The WNC Conference often meets in Winston-Salem. This year, like in 1940 and 1969, St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church on Patterson Avenue, served as the host church. St. James Pastor Steven. L. Lyons and his flock went out of their way to make all the visitors feel at home. The Western North Carolina Conference Branch Women’s Missionary Society (WMS), whose president is Nikki W. Lyons, St. James’ First Lady, held its conference here last week to coincide with the other.
The closing ceremony on June 13 began at 6 p.m. and included musical selections from a choir, scripture readings, praise dancing, communion and the reading of a list of those appointed as elders.
Bishop Paul J.M. Kawimbe of Johannesburg, South Africa was the guest speaker. His sermon, “How To Do God’s Work,” was directed at the new appointees.
“Do God’s work Biblically,” he exhorted. “We need preachers who are sanctified. “You have to do it God’s way and not your way.”
Kawimbe added that happiness was a necessary ingredient in God’s work. He said he didn’t know where the appointees would be assigned, “but go there with joy,” he urged. “Do the work of God with joy.”
An estimated 1,000 people attended last week’s events. DeVeaux expressed pride in the growth and future of the conference as a whole and of individual churches.
“(With) the caliber of people coming along, we should be more than OK,” he said.