I am still basking in the wonderful honor that was bestowed on me last Sunday at my church, The Church of God Tabernacle in Liberty City.
Please believe me when I tell you I was overwhelmed at the outpouring of love and appreciation. I was told that I was being honored for all the good works that I do for the church and the community. And while I truly, truly appreciate everyone who came and every kind word that was spoken, it seems a little strange to me to be honored for something that I feel I am just blessed to do.
Years ago, I started praying for the Lord to bless me to use my gifts to glorify Him. And He has. I love reaching out to others. It makes me happy to know that I have helped to brighten someone's otherwise gloomy day. For that, I feel that I am the blessed one.
On Sunday, my friends came from far and near — a goddaughter, Nicole Burkes Canty, flew in from Baltimore. She is a flight attendant and couldn't get home to Atlanta before coming here because of the weather-canceled flights. “I'm coming Bea-bea,” she said, “if I have to wear my uniform to the service.” She didn't have to wear her uniform; she arrived Friday evening and we went shopping on Saturday.
My dear friend Juanita Mond thought she wouldn't make it. She lives in Atlanta and was told that there wasn't a flight leaving because of the weather. Later, she got a call telling her to come to the airport. She hurriedly repacked her suitcase and headed out, only to learn the flights to Fort Lauderdale were held up because of the construction. She got here late Saturday night.
My only sibling, my brother Adam, drove down from Melbourne to be with me. My son Shawn couldn't make it because of another snowstorm in the east. My godchildren kept him posted by sending pictures to him almost hourly. And granddaughter Afra, who is appearing in Motown on Broadway in New York, sent a beautiful letter that was read during the service.
My Miami family, including daughter-in-law Debra, who gave a moving tribute to me, granddaughters Nykeva and Laquonia and great-grandson Jaylen were all here. Granddaughter Jamie now lives in Orlando and could not make it back. I missed her and great-grandson Tavaris.
My other family, which includes Taffy Gould and her family, also shared the day with me.
I especially want to thank Nancy Perez (for her wonderful brownies) and her friend Jane Steele, who left their own church to be with me on my special day. And for my longtime friend Dr. Dorothy J. Fields, who left a celebration at her church to come and pay tribute to me, and my goddaughter Cecily Robinson-Duffie, who also spoke on the program.
The highlight of the day was when the Rev. Dr. Walter T. Richardson preached a stirring sermon on the value of showing appreciation. He said we all do better when we know we are appreciated. He came with his wife, Dolores, and their children LaMark and Lakisha, who are also my godchildren. LaMark and LaKisha have 12 children between them; most were in church with them.
I tell you, dear friends, there was so much love flowing in the sanctuary, I couldn't hold back the tears. I was so humbled to know that my church family, led by my pastor Bishop Walter H. Richardson and Evangelist A. Frances Nixon, thought I was worthy of such an occasion.
So, a heartfelt “Thank you” to all of you. I love you, and God bless you.
Chicago rabbi to discuss black-Jewish relationship
In celebration of Black History Month, the Jewish Museum of Florida will present Rabbi Capers C. Funnye Jr. as the featured speaker at 3 p.m. Sunday at the museum, 301 Washington Ave., Miami Beach.
Funnye, dubbed President Barack Obama's rabbi by The New York Times, is the spiritual leader of Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in Chicago, one of the largest and oldest black synagogues in the United States. He will speak on the topic “The Black-Jewish Community in Chicago, 1918 to the Present.”
After his talk, Funnye will be joined by a panel of scholars who will discuss the subject of Jewish racial and ethnic identity in America and around the world.
The panelists will include Sar Ahmadiel Ben Yehuda Ahmadiel, historian for the African Hebrew Israelites in Israel; Dr. Jake Dorman, history professor at the University of Kansas and author of Chosen People: The Rise of Black Israelite Religions; Dr. John Jackson, University of Pennsylvania professor of communications, anthropology and Africana studies; Dr. William F.S. Miles, Northeastern University political science professor and author of Jews of Nigeria: An Afro-Judaic Odyssey; and Dr. Tudor Parfitt, program organizer and FIU religious studies professor and expert on global Judaising movements. His recently published book is Black Jews in Africa and the Americas.
The program is free and open to the public.
South Miami Lutheran hosts flea market
South Miami Lutheran Church will have its Annual Spring Community Flea Market from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 1. There will be about 50 outside vendors. In addition, the church, at 7190 SW 72nd St., will have its popular lunch menu and homemade bake goods for sale.
Call 305-665-2562 for more information.
Churches join forces to celebrate Lenten season
The Lenten season will begin March 12, and five churches in the South Miami area will hold services, rotating the locations and pastors.
This is the fifth year the churches have come together during Lent and Advent to hold these services, according to Elaine Mills, who submitted the information.
“It has proved to be very effective,” Mills said.
The first service will be at 7:15 p.m. March 12 at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1770 Brickell Ave., with the Rev. Arnold Perry serving as pastor.
A light supper will be served at 6:30 p.m., before the worship service, for those with reservations.
Future midweek services will be held at South Miami Lutheran, St. Mark’s Lutheran, St. James Lutheran and St. John Lutheran. The theme this year is “Making Change.”
For information about individual church services, call Mills at 305-235-3036.
FMU’s gospel concert showcases talent
You gospel music lovers out there are in for a treat if you attend a concert presented by Florida Memorial University's Music Department at 5 p.m. Sunday.
The concert will be in the university’s Lou Rawls Center for the Performing Arts, 15800 NW 42nd Ave., Miami Gardens.
The concert not only promises to uplift the spirit, but it will showcase students and alumni who are making a mark in the music industry. The program will feature the FMU Chorale as well as other groups and soloists.
“The concert explores the rich history of gospel music, from traditional to contemporary,” said Melvin White, vocal professor and director of the popular FMU Ambassador Chorale.
“We have graduated so many excellent musicians. They're out there doing fantastic stuff,” White said of the performers, many of whom studied under him.
Performers will include Mark McCleary; DeMarcus Williams; Raymond Jackson, minister of music at Antioch Baptist Church in Miami Gardens; and Phyllis Jones, who started the first gospel choir at Nova Southeastern University.
The concert is free and open to the public.