There are some youngsters who seem to be “marked,” as my mom used to say, for a certain status in life. That’s the way it was with the Rev. Canon J. Kenneth Major, who served as rector of the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation for 35 years until his retirement in 2010.
Back in the day, when we were attending Booker T. Washington Junior/Senior High School, it seemed everyone knew that Kenneth (as we called him) would be a priest. It was the way he carried himself, with a kind of spiritual seriousness that made him walk differently from the other boys his age. Today, he probably would be called a nerd. (I don’t think that we even knew back then what the term meant.)
I got to know Major well when I was in the 10th grade and he was a junior and running for student council president. It was a big deal, and campaign volunteers were allowed time away from their classes to go from room to room to campaign for their candidate.
It was an exciting time. Major was destined to win the election. His speeches took on the tone of a pulpit-pounding Baptist/Pentecostal preacher as he drove home his points as to why he was the best man for the job. He was a delightful sight to watch — both serious and funny at the same time. And the students and teachers loved him, electing Major with an overwhelming number of votes.
So, it surprised no one when Major went off to St. Augustine College in Raleigh, North Carolina, and later to Berkeley, the Episcopal Seminary at Yale University, to study for the priesthood. It was even more predictable when he actually became an ordained priest 50 years ago.
On Jan. 26, he was honored at a Service of Thanksgiving for the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. The retired Archdeacon the Rev. James Palacious, from Nassau, Bahamas preached.
“It was a milestone,” Major said of the anniversary. “I was at one church throughout my entire ministry. That’s significant because Episcopal priests usually do not remain at one church for 50 years. When I was first ordained, I served under the Rev. Tyrrell Dear. He left after two years and the bishop appointed me to be in charge of the church, which at that time was a mission. In June of 1974, I became the rector, and the mission became a parish.”
Major said it was the Lord who kept him at the church for 50 years. “Every time I went to the pulpit, my prayer has been, ‘Lord, always let me reflect you.’ I put the Lord first and He blessed me.”
Although he is retired, Major is a staple at the church, always available to volunteer whenever he is called to serve.
“How can you expect pay when you love what you do. I love the Lord, the church and the Lord’s people,” he said.
Major is a widower and the father of five grown children, with six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Black History Month celebration
Bishop Walter H. Richardson, pastor/overseer of The Church of God Tabernacle (True Holiness), invites the community to its 38th annual Black History Month Celebration. The celebration will begin at 10 a.m. Sunday at the church, 1351 NW Sixth St. in Liberty City, and will feature educator and student advocate Marilyn Lawson as the keynote speaker.
The 2019 theme for Black History Month is “Black Migrations” and the service will also feature “A Slave Mother’s Grief,” a brief, original monologue by Yours Truly, that tells the story through songs and dialogue of the Africans arrival to these shores; their tribulations, and how they survived.
On Sunday, Feb. 10, the 10 a.m. worship service will feature an original, short skit by Melba Chenise Pompey, director of music at the church. The Rev. Dr. Walter T. Richardson, pastor emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in Perrine, will be keynote speaker.
The 10 a.m. service on Sunday, Feb. 17, will feature Deacon Horace Wright, an orator who will recite Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s entire “I Have a Dream” speech.
The Black History Month Celebration will culminate at 10 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, with Demetrius Walton, a consultant for New Urban Development, as keynote speaker. The Youth With Voices Ensemble, directed by Sister Ashley Barnes, and the church youth department are in charge of the worship service.
Everyone is welcome. Feel free to wear African attire.
Black History Month concerts
The Miami Oratorio Society will present the first of two concerts in commemoration of Black History Month at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at the North Dade Regional Library, 2455 NW 183rd St. in Miami Gardens.
The second concert will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16, at the North Miami Public Library, 835 NE 132nd St. in North Miami.
The concerts, “Spirit I” and “Spirit II” are celebrations of the music, culture and history of African Americans and highlights the music of the black people that began in the 17th century, with the simple unison melodies of the African slaves.
Director Ander Anderson will lead the Miami Oratorio Society in highlighting the richness of black culture and music from Negro Spirituals to opera to modern jazz with gospel soloist Tiffany Hall, and the Tim Watson Jazz Band.
The concerts are free and open to the public. Call Judy Feldman at 305-610-0500 for more information.
Cynthia M . Clarke and members of Circle II at the Church of the Open Door invite students in elementary, middle and high school to participate in a Black History Month Oratorical Contest at 4 p.m. Monday at the church, 6001 NW Eighth Ave. in Liberty City.
First-, second- and third-place prizes will be presented to winners in each grade category. The deadline to register is 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12. Applications can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rev. Adrian D. McLean serves as interim pastor of the church. You may also call 305-59-033 to RSVP and for more information.
Black Migrations exhibit
The second event presented by South Florida People of Color will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at the Brockway Memorial Library, 10021 NE Second Ave, Miami Shores. The program will include a Black Migrations exhibit and reception.
The exhibit will feature three important aspects of Black Migrations: a forced migration from Africa; migration patterns of blacks in America that occurred after slavery until the 1970’s, and Caribbean migration to South Florida, particularly Miami, according to a news release.
The program will feature Haitian spoken word artist Mecca AKA Grimo, and soulful saxophonist Cory Jones. It’s free. Appetizers and wine will be served.
Red Tent Book Club
The community is invited to hear Rabbi Robyn Fisher of Temple Beth Or’s Red Tent Book Club at 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, when she reviews the book “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande. In the book, the author discusses in an open and sometimes sentimental, and always realistic manner, the aging process and what one can do to live life to its fullest. The program is a part of Beth Or’s initiative on Death Over Dinner Speaker Series.
Because seating is limited, please RSVP as soon as possible at bethortmple.com, or by calling 305-235-1419. Leave a message for Vicki Brail. Temple Beth Or is at 1115 SW 87th Ave. Light refreshments will be served.
Journey through blindness
Virginia A. Jacko, president and CEO of Miami Lighthouse For the Blind, will be the guest speaker at Ahavat Olam Synagogue at 7:45 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, at 1055 SW 112th St. on premises shared with Killian Pines United Methodist Church.
In keeping with Jewish Awareness and Inclusion Month, Jacko will speak from her book, “The Blind Visionary,” which tells the story of her journey through blindness and how it is possible to lead a productive and full life.
She will also discuss her recent trip to Israel to visit the Jewish Institute for the Blind, as well as the Nalagaat Center in Jaffa, and the Eliya School in Peta Tikva, developing Miami Lighthouse’s intentional partnerships in Israel. It’s free.