YOUTH LEADERS—Valerie Wimms and Min. TaNikka Shepherd, leaders of the Rodman Youth group. (Photos by Gail Manker)
by Karen Harris Brooks
The East Liberty area of Pittsburgh provided the foundation for the 2013 Lott Carey Spring Missions Conference. True to form, the Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church, under the direction of Rev. Dr. Darryl T. Canady, took a leading role in reviewing new ways to “move outside the walls of the church.”
‘The Street’ opened her doors and hearts as they played host to the compassionate leaders of the theological world. Hailing from across the country, pastors and preachers, laypersons and missionaries, and committed Christians and volunteers travelled from the states of North Carolina, the District of Columbia, Maryland and New York, to name a few.
From Thursday, April 18 through Saturday, April 20, members of the Lott Carey community gathered at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and the Rodman Street Church to fellowship, plan, discuss mission strategies, and review and promote critical issues facing local and international communities.
Founded in 1897 by African-American Baptists, Lott Carey now encompasses an assembly committed to local and foreign mission, including the recent fellowship with the American Red Cross. Rev. Lott Carey, one of the first missionaries to travel to West Africa, placed evangelism, education and health care at the forefront of the pioneering missionary team. To date, the objectives of the organization also include discipleship, leadership and development.
“Taking Care of Your Pastoral Self” was the topic of Rev. Dr. John Mendez, pastor of the Emmanuel Baptist Church of Winston-Salem, N.C. Innovation provided the core for the educational lectures with discussions addressing issues that are not easily accepted. The NAACP’s National Manager of Health Programs, Rev. Keron Sadler, candidly talked about “The Black Church and HIV.” Another topic of great magnitude affecting the African-American community is the “Need for Pastors to End Mass Incarceration,” a session delivered by Madeline McClenney-Sadler PhD, founder of the Exodus Foundation in Charlotte, N.C.
Reverend Dr. Gregory K. Moss is the esteemed president of the Baptist Foreign Missionary Convention. Rev. Moss refers to himself as a “Servant Leader.” The influential pastor of the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte believes that the church needs to get “outside the walls in order to build relationships and go beyond.” He emphasizes the necessity for a “beloved community,” stressing our need to “equip people to live out their dreams,” he said. “Lott Carey is the leading edge in raising the conversation and tackling difficult issues that face the church, as well as the community.”
Empowered to empower women everywhere is the theme of Antoinette W. Winslow, president of Women in Service Everywhere. A native of New York, Winslow tackles issues of physical and mental abuse among women. The organization is also instrumental in their attempt to end the modern day slavery of human trafficking. A devoted member of Lott Carey for more than 30 years, this amazing missionary travels to the far corners of the earth to touch the “least of these.” Winslow insists that although the women counseled are grateful, the women of WISE are the ones who return to their homes with a love and respect for those to whom they rendered help.
Those affected by disaster are touched by people like Deacon Tony Taylor, a Short Term Missions Leader for the organization and a member of the Convent Avenue Baptist Church in Harlem, NY. Recently returning from Haiti, Taylor states that the experience has left him “very humble and blessed as an American.” His pride is evident when he speaks of the Lambi Village in Haiti, where 38 of 56 homes under construction have been completed. He recalls the “strong faith and lack of despair of the Haitian people” following the devastating earthquake and confidently states that “My faith reinforced the fact that God is still in charge.”
The leaders of today are facing and dealing with a variety of issues that have become critical to the survival of the African-American community. Nurturing pastors for today’s world, while developing a new generation of leaders for tomorrow, ensures effective leadership necessary for that survival.
Instrumental to the Lott Carey organization are the young people who have the tools and desire to train young men and women for the future. Passionate about equipping the leaders of tomorrow is the Rev. Dr. TaNikka Shepherd of Columbus, Ohio.
“Enraptured by the Lott Carey Youth Seminar at a very young age,” Shepherd’s desire is to “prepare, pray and inspire.” As she works to make her vision a reality, this young minister with a deep love and commitment for young people, believes that they will provide the anchor to change the world.
Touching the lives of the “least of these,” the mission leaves an indelible mark on those who receive their services and also those who devote themselves to serving.
The work of the Lott Carey Mission continues throughout the world through the dedication and commitment of those who work to “transform love without boundaries.”
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