Last Sundaywas a day of great celebration for my church family. Bishop Walter H. Richardson, the pastor and overseer of The Church of God Tabernacle in Liberty City, was honored at a special service on the eve of his 92nd birthday.
It was a wonderful service, with several people giving testimonials of what Bishop Richardson has meant to them during their Christian journey, and great music. It was, indeed, a hand-clapping and foot-stomping good time. And to copy a phrase from the late Charlie Whited after he had attended such a worship service, I felt like “my soul had had a bath.”
Lucine Joseph and her sister Seadell Roundtree spoke of how he has been both their spiritual father and teacher nearly all their lives. Missionary Marva Martin spoke of how Bishop Richardson’s “compassion and love” for the church family, and even those who are not members of the church, have impressed her. “He is a wonderful man of God,” she said.
I can attest to that. When I accepted the Lord as my personal Savior in 1961, Bishop Richardson was an evangelist at the church. I have always been impressed with his teaching of “righteous living” and the fact that he leads by example.
When my husband was killed a year and a half later, Bishop Richardson became a surrogate father (godfather) for my two young sons Rick and Shawn, and his late wife Poseline, became their godmother. They did this for me, although they had two sons of their own. Both sons, the Rev. Dr. Walter T. and Elder Alfred J. followed their father in the ministry. (Bishop is now married to the former Betty Forbes. The live in the Bunche Park area of Miami Gardens.)
As a young single mom, there was so much I didn’t know or understand about my newly found Christian walk, or about life in general. But sitting at the feet of this wise and spiritual man, I learned what it means to have patience and be at peace, even with my enemies, and how to seek the Lord for guidance in everything I attempt to do. It was great advice for a young mom of two sons.
It was no surprise to any of the members of the church when, after the death of our former pastor Evangelist Mamie E. Richardson in 1965, the Lord anointed Richardson to become the spiritual leader of the church. She was also his aunt, and he learned much from her, which he unselfishly passed on to the congregation.
I learned from him that my journey in this life would not always be strewn with roses, but if, per chance, there were roses along the way, I must be aware of the thorns that could prick me at any time. But I was not to let that deter me in any way, he taught. It was wonderful advice, especially when I became the first African American woman reporter for the Miami Herald and encountered much racism.
Through his teaching and wise advice, I learned to focus on the good things and the wonderful people who looked beyond the color of my skin and helped me in spite of what some of their colleagues said or did. And as usual, the advice worked.
On April 25 and 26, Bishop will celebrate his Golden Jubilee Anniversary as pastor of the church. The congregation and the community will celebrate this great milestone with a banquet at the Signature Grand on April 25, followed by church services at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on April 26. His pastoral anniversary makes him one of the longest serving pastors in Miami.
So, as I sat in church during the service honoring my Bishop, these are some of the thoughts that ran through my mind. And although I wasn’t one of the speakers, I am a witness to what those who spoke said.
Happy birthday, Bishop!
While we on on the subject of celebrations, I want to send out warm congratulations to Samuel and Queen Armstrong, who are celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary as you read this column.
I wrote about the Armstrongs, who live in Richmond Heights and their 64-year-old stove that still works, at Thanksgiving time. The family still uses the antique stove to prepare family meals — both great and small.
On this, their wedding anniversary Samuel Armstrong said: “I’m going to take my wife out to dinner. She likes to go out, I don’t. But wherever she wants to go, I’m going to take her. We still have fun together. She never ceases to amaze me.”
Said his wife Queen Armstrong: “I thank God that He has kept us and that we still have our sound mind and body.”
The Armstrongs are the parents of five, Arlie Holliday, Gwendolyn Johnson, Jewel Player, Samuel, Jr., and Apryl Armstrong.
Happy anniversary, and may you live to see many more.
You are invited to a “surprise movie viewing” presented by the Inter-American Chapter of Hadassah at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 15, at the Cuban Hebrew Congregation, 1700 Michigan Ave. in Miami Beach.
A contribution of $8 per person to Hadassah will be accepted.
Temple Beth El of Hollywood invites the community to all its services.
Weekly services are: Thursday morning Minyan at 8 a.m.; Friday Shabbat service is at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday morning Torah study is at 9:30 a.m., followed by the service at 10:30 a.m.
On Jan. 11, the termple invites you to its Winter Concert featuring Cantor Manny Silver and Luisa Lubell at 4 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.
The temple will have “Shabbat Under the Stars” at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 23. Everyone is invited to all services and events.
Temple Beth El is at 1351 S. 14 Ave. in Hollywood. For more information call 954-920-8225 or go to their website at: www.templebethelhollywood.org.
You need to know that Savion Glover, the award-winning tap choreographer will be in Liberty City at 2 p.m. Saturday to share his story in a free community conversation at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, 6161 NW 22 Ave.
The program is a part of “Sankofa: Looking Back, going Forward,” a year-long series of events and performances that bring alumni back to the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center to inspire the next generation of talent. It is in celebration of the center’s 40th anniversary and receives funding from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as part of the foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge.
Glover is the founder of The Hooferz Club School for Tap, which emphasizes the history and specific traditions surrounding the art form of tap dancing and The Hooferz. Students attending the school explore theory and musicality, while identifying with the creative process that can revise and refine their own approach to tap dancing.
Joining Glover will be our very own, homegrown talent Marshall Davis, Jr., and alumnus of the center. Davis is the recipient of Issac Hayes’ Breaking the Barrier Award for his achievements at such an early age. He currently is the adjunct professor at Queens College and can be seen through motion capture performance in the animated movie “Happy Feet Two”.
The event is free and open to the public. For more information call the center at 305-638-6771 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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