71st Annual Women’s Day Observance at The Street – Women’s Missionary Society hosts annual event, this year steeped in grand mystery

Farish Street Baptist Church Women’s Missionary Society Photos By Chris Young

By Christopher Young,
Contributing Writer,

Farish Street Baptist Church Women’s Missionary Society Photos By Chris Young

Farist Street Missionary Baptist Church was packed to capacity for the 71st Annual Women’s Day Observance April 28, 2024. The Women’s Missionary Society handled it all, from conducting the entire Sunday service, to an enhanced choir – dubbing themselves The H.M. Johnson Singers, readers, keynote speaker and presentation of the Rosie Mitchell/Sadie Hendricks Woman of the Year presentation.
Scores of visitors came from as far away as Georgia to support the event and its participants. Senior Pastor Reverend Dr. Hickman Morgan Johnson provided an invitation to church membership and endearing closing remarks and a benediction.
The theme of this year’s event was: “Stepping into Our Destiny with Faith in God,” which was espoused so deeply and beautifully throughout the service. Dr. Ursula Harris presided over the event conducting the call to worship, introducing various segments and the speaker, Angela D. Stewart. The invocation was provided by Mary Alice Latham. The scripture, Jeremiah 29:11-13, was read by Tonia Smith. The occasion/welcome was provided by Kisa Harris, and the special Woman’s Day Litany was read by E.B. Topp Circle member Juanita Brown.

L-R: Women’s Missionary Society members on the dais, Dr. Delores Hopkins, Dr. Ursula Harris, member E.B. Topp Circle and event speaker Angela Stewart, Kisa Harris and First Lady Gladys Marie Johnson

The period of mediation honoring those who came before was presented with such reverence and audience inclusion by Ada Robinson. A thorough recognition of visitors was provided by Ramona Cork, and the fellowship of sharing and offertory prayer was provided by Cotina Wicks.
While the music at Farish Street Missionary Baptist Church is always moving and uplifting, there are special days – this writer can attest – beyond beautiful, surely enough to make a grown man cry. Coming right out of the gate with The Clarke Sisters’ “I’m Looking for a Miracle, you can understand how this was one of those days as Brendsha Roby, Kemsye Smith, Patricia Edwards, Tambrela Thompson and Alisa McDonald shared their amazing talent – truly a choir of angels, with Alisa McDonald serving as official guest soloist. Accompaniment was provided by music director Jerry Smith on piano, Larry Robinson on organ and Landon Daniels, son of Elizabeth Daniels, on drums.
Speaker Angela D. Stewart delivered in heart and substance extraordinaire. Stewart is the archivist of the renowned Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University, and her experience as a historian, archivist, podcaster and author has made her known and sought after locally and nationally. She is a member of Farish Street Baptist Church and of the E.B. Topp Circle. Rising to the lectern, the emotions of the memories of this congregation of supportive and generous people, including her late mother, Dorothy Stewart Samuel, were beautifully shared. She acknowledged family and friends in the audience and began with prayer before noting the contributions that women have made to the National Baptist Convention USA, first highlighted by Nannie Helen Burroughs – mission work and keeping churches alive and open and thriving.

“The H.M. Johnson Singers, L-R: Brendsha Roby, Patricia Edwards, Alisa McDonald, Kemsye Smith and Tambrela Thompson

“We know that women bring something special to God’s Kingdom. God’s grace empowers us to be the women we were meant to be. Even in today’s scripture reading, Jerimiah 29:11-13, the last verse says, “you will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart.” She went into the theme for the day, “Stepping into our Destiny with Faith in God,” embracing it from historical, Biblical, practical, and modern-day perspectives. Her sharing was a gift of the highest order.
“All these things you do in your life, but if you aren’t looking out for the poor, the aliens, the widows – none of that other stuff matters.” What does this theme mean to us as Christians?, she asked. “It means that as we step into our destiny with faith in God we should live intentionally, following God’s purpose for our lives. God has always known our purpose and has equipped us for it. Looking back on our lives we can see that God has been guiding every step of the way. God keeps promises, He listens to our prayers, and He reveals Himself when we seek Him. It does not mean that our life will be worry-free, yet even in the storm we can find peace. With God’s promise, trust in his plan, even when his plan doesn’t seem to make sense to us.…God wants us to pursue him with sincerity, devotion and a desire to know him intimately.” Just a portion of her incredibly inspiring message.
Surely you recall being told as a youngster, “God works is mysterious ways.” Well, even though that is true, there are some women at Farish Street who work in mysterious ways, too. How else could they pull off the impossible – selecting Clemontine Whitaker as the 2024 Rosie Mitchell and Sadie Hendricks Woman of the Year awardee, without her advance knowledge. Wait, oh, you wanted to know why that is a nearly impossible feat? ‘Clem’, as she is called by friends, a member of Farish Street Baptist Church since 1962, is the chairwoman of the Woman’s Day committee itself. Mysterious ways indeed.
Clemontine Whitaker was raised in Holmes County and belonged to Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Tchula, Mississippi. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Jackson State University. She regularly attended the National Baptist Convention where she met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Lucille Eddie Campbell-Williams.
She was visibly surprised by the honor, and gracious, expressing touching gratitude in accepting the award and flowers, to a booming and heartfelt applause.


71st Annual Woman’s Day Observance speaker Angela Stewart


L-R: Ushers, Nettie Stowers and Gwen Horton


L-R: Brendsha Roby and 2024 Woman of the Year recipient Clemontine Whitaker


A laugh recalling that as a child Stewart was baptized by Reverend Johnson.




Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.