Start of Something New
Ambitious Global United Fellowship brings international ‘Gathering’ to town
(pictured above: Global United Fellowship Presiding Bishop Neil C. Ellis (center) stands with (from left) Vice Presiding Bishops Joby Brady, Rudolph McKissick Jr., Carolyn Showell, Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, Judge Glenda Hatchett, Rev. Dr. Sir Walter Mack Jr. and Bishop Sheldon McCarter.)
Organizers of The Gathering, the first-ever conference of the newly-developed Global United Fellowship, expect some 4,000 parishioners from 400 churches across the globe to descend on downtown Winston-Salem this week.
They will hear about Bishop Neil C. Ellis’ grand plans for GUF, whose aims include to more aptly equip church leaders, enhance marriages and help Christians build a stronger covenant with God.
“We have to come together to unite and equip churches to serve the needs of our people. When God brings us together it is not for us to have church but to be the church,” Ellis, senior pastor of Nassau, Bahamas’ Mt. Tabor Church and GUF’s presiding bishop, said Tuesday at the downtown Embassy Suites, where much of The Gathering is taking place.
A long list of heavy-hitters are scheduled to take part in The Gathering’s sessions, special events and concerts. They include Juanita Bynum, a noted televangelist and author, and Dr. Jamal Bryant, the pastor of Baltimore’s Empowerment Temple who recently created a social media row with a sermon that has been dubbed, “These Hoes Ain’t Loyal.” Gospel stars Yolanda Adams, Tasha Cobbs, Hezekiah Walker and Shaback will also take part, according to organizers.
A cross-denominational group of religious leaders have been appointed by Ellis to lead various GUF auxiliaries. Winston-Salem’s Dr. Sir Walter Mack Jr., pastor of Union Baptist Church, is among them; he has been charged with guiding the fellowship’s evangelism wing. Mack said this city is the right place to launch such an ambitious effort.
“Winston-Salem, one, has always been doing things to impact the globe, and two, it is a challenge for us to do greater work,” Mack said. “I believe that is the intention of Global United Fellowship and the thrust of it is mission, evangelism and having a community impact.”
Conference sessions, which began yesterday, will tackle dozens of topics, things like “Building a High Impact Staff,” “Balancing Between Church and Family” and “Reaching the World Through Social Media.” Ellis wants to give attendees the tools they need to revolutionize the modern church and tackle challenging missions. GUF plans to provide clean drinking to developing nations, feed a million children around the world during the summer of 2015 and help former prisoners re-enter society.
Glenda Hatchett – a former Fulton County, Ga. juvenile court judge who went on to host her own daytime courtroom show, “Judge Hatchett,” – will play a role in making those goals reality. She has been appointed GUF’s global spokesperson for families.
“We are in a crisis, globally, with our children and our families,” she said Tuesday as she joined Ellis, Mack and others to kick off The Gathering. “We are going to be dealing with the health of our families and our children. We are going to be dealing with the education of our children and our families, and dealing with economic empowerment.”
The Gathering attendees have come from near and far. Hermean Sturrup and Wendy Nixon traveled from Nassau, Bahamas.
“We came for a global and Christian experience. I think it will be very rewarding, enlightening and very spirt-filled,” she said.
Sophia Christie came from Atlanta. She is a longtime fan of Bishop Ellis’.
“I am looking forward to a supernatural blessing,” she said. “The bishop is a man who is holy-ghost-filled, and I know he has a word for everyone, including myself.”
Mischeal Goldsmith is a noted singer and a member of Winston-Salem’s Greater Cleveland Avenue Christian Church, whose pastor, Bishop Sheldon McCarter, has been appointed a GUF vice bishop. He’s expecting good things this week, too.
“I think it is an excellent fellowship. You get a chance to meet new people and hear some fresh ideas as it pertains to your ministry,” he said. “It has been a pleasure meeting people from all over the country and the globe.”
For more information about GUF, visit www.globalunitedfellowship.org.