“Preparing Leaders for Today and Tomorrow” was the theme for New Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church’s annual Men’s Day program held Sunday, Feb. 12 at 11 a.m. The Rev. Dr. Lorenzo Neal serves as pastor of the church which is located at 2202 Decatur Street in Jackson.
The speaker for the occasion was U. S. Congressman James Clyburn, serving the 6th Congressional District of South Carolina. He was introduced by U. S. Congressman Bennie Thompson, serving the 2nd Congressional District for Mississippi. Retired Presiding Elder George W. Tyler served as program chairperson.
A host of dignitaries came out to be a part of the Men’s Day Celebration at New Bethel during Black History Month.
The welcome and occasion was given by Tony Cardin who stated that when he called a few friends to invite them to Men’s Day they responded “I’ll try and make it,” but when they were told Congressman Clyburn would be the speaker their first question was “How did you all get him?” His response was Clyburn likes to be around God’s people and that God doesn’t always go on the normal beaten path.
Neal shared moments in Black History by recognizing the achievements of several icons, one of which was Bishop Richard Allen who was born into slavery February 14, 1760.
Allen and his brother were able to convince their slave master that slavery was wrong and the slave owner allowed them to buy their own freedom. In 1794, Allen founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first independent black denomination in the United States.
Presiding Elder George Tyler introduced Congressman Thompson and told the attendees of the congressman’s many achievements. He gave an in-depth introduction of Thompson that could easily have been mistaken as an introduction of the keynote speaker. The attendees gave a standing ovation as Thompson approached the podium.
Thompson in his introduction said at one time Clyburn was the highest ranking official in the House of Representatives and is the individual that if anyone in the country wants to go anywhere in government, they seek his council. He reminded those present that it was Jim Clyburn that met with President Joe Biden after losing the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries that when he came to South Carolina he needed to tell the voters that if he was elected, he would nominate a black female to fill any vacancy that might come up in the supreme court. Biden took his advice and the crowd went wild after he made that promise and the next day Biden won by an overwhelming vote in the South Carolina primary that swept over the south. Thompson added, “And now Joe Biden is president.”
Prior to the keynote message, Ray Magee sang “I can’t Even Walk, Without Him Holding My Hand.” This rendition brought the audience to their feet.
Clyburn in his message seemed to have delivered a sermon. He referenced the book of James, Chapter 2. “James, wrote this book after Christ had ascended and left His followers to carry out His work, but there were disagreements amongst the workers,” Clyburn stated. Some thought all you had to do is have faith and obey the word of God but James, the brother of Jesu, knew that more was required. Clyburn said to the listeners, “If you say you are a believer and not take on the responsibility for the people of this community, then something is wrong with that. That is not what the Christian faith is about or what faith leadership is about.”
Clyburn told the audience not to just get involved when there is a presidential election. He said, “Presidents don’t get involved in school board meetings.” He told them that they must work together as a church and as a community. He ended his message with a lesson his father taught him and his two brothers when they were having a physical argument.
Their father called them from across the street and handed a cord string to the youngest son and told him to pop the string. The youngest son could not, so he gave it to the next son whom he said was older and stronger. He could not pop it either. Their father told Clyburn he was the oldest and strongest; however, he could not pop the cord string either. Their father took the cord string and rubbed his hands together. The more friction he created the more the string unraveled and it wasn’t long before the string was in three pieces.
He gave one piece to each son and with very little effort the three boys popped the string. He said, “Sons, let this be a lesson to you, for as long as you live, don’t let disagreements that crop up among you create so much friction that it separates you because if you do the world will pop you apart.”
Clyburn closed by stating, “We may not always agree on what to do or when to do it, but let us not allow these disagreements to cause too much friction amongst us.”
He said in this world we live in, there are forces that will pop you apart and you may never know why until it’s too late.
Senator John Horhn, (D) MS District 26, told The Mississippi Link, “Congressman Clyburn did a masterful job of laying out what our plan of action should be.” He said the message we must take away with us is that we have to stick together and come up with a plan of action that works for all of us – in order to make America work for all of us.”
Chevon Chatman, Esq. is lead organizer for Working Together Jackson. She said, “Rep. Clyburn reminded everyone that the church still has a critical role in the building of community and in the larger fight for democracy.
See photos on page 5.