African Methodist Zion Hold Historial Conference in Pensacola

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By: Shirley Stone

History was made in Pensacola Fl, as the AME Zion Church ushered in their first African American Methodist Episcopal Zion Church Bishop.  Bishop Seth O. Lartey is The 100th Line of Procession African American Presiding Prelate to take office in the United States of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.

Bishop Seth O. Lartey was born in Monroeville, Liberia. He is a 1976 graduate of the A.M.E. Zion Academy, Monrovia, Liberia, attended the Liberian Baptist Theological Seminary in 1980 and received his Bachelors of Theological degree.

Bishop Latey received a B.A. Degree in Intermediate Education from Livingstone College, Salisbury, North Carolina in 1987.  He’s a graduate from the School of Divinity at Duke University where he received a Master’s degree in Religious Education.  He also received his Divinity of Ministry degree in 2003 from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.  Bishop Lartey has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors among them, Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities, Presidential Scholar, NAACP presidential Award and the State of North Carolina NAACP Man of the Year.

His pastorates began with St. Matthias A.M.E. Zion Church (West Africa) from 1980-82.  He moved to St. John A.M.E. Zion, Wilson, NC as Associate Pastor in 1983-85.  He was made Interim Pastor at Trinity AME Zion Church in Wilson in 1985.  Later, in 1985 he was made Pastor at Invitation to A.M.E. Zion in Snow Hill, NC 1985-1987.  He was moved to Mt. Zion A.M.E. Zion Church in Elizabeth-town, NC in 1987-1992.  In 1992 he was moved to Goler Memorial A.M.E. Zion in Winston-Salem, NC where he would remain for 20 years.  Bishop Lartey was elevated to the episcopacy from Goler Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church as the 100th Bishop in Succession.

The Bishop is married to Mrs. Jacqueline Inez Williams-Larety, Missionary Supervisor of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and they have three wonderful children, Solomon B.D. Lartey,

Alicia E.A. Lartey and Victoria D.K. Lartey.  She served with her husband in the Western West Africa Episcopal District.  Because of her involvement and dedication to the empowerment of women and the education of children in Africa two schools (Liberia, Cote d’lvoire) was named in her honor.

She is a member of the Board of Directors for the Janie A. Speaks Hospital in Afrancho, Ghana.  In 2012, Mrs. Lartey was enstooled as Queen Mother in Ghana.  Mrs. Lartey has served on many boards and organizations.  She is a member/officer of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.  She has served for 18 years, as a Co-founder and Administrative Officer of the Goler Institute for Development and Education, Inc. (G.I.D.E. Inc.), Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Throughout her life, Mrs. Lartey has worked tirelessly with her husband in creating programs/organizations whose primary goals have been to assist children and youth to prepare them for a promising, successful and productive future.     

The historical annual conference took place Tuesday, September 6 – 11, 2016.  The Host Pastor was Reverend Donald Harris and First lady Karen Harris of Houser Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church, Pensacola, FL.  This glorious event started with a  Home Missions Banquet on Tuesday  at   7:00pm at the Pensacola Bay Center, 201 East Gregory St. Pensacola, FL 32503. The theme was a “Night To Remember”.

In attendance were the Florida Episcopal Districts of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Churches:  Houser Memorial, Talbot Chapel, St. Paul, Mt. Moriah, Isaiah Chapel, St. Mark, Escambia Chapel, Springhill, Edwards Chapel, Greater Little Zion and Community of Hope.  The attire was after five with each church district representing their chosen colors of distinction.  Dinner was served with a full entre, selections of Fish or Chicken, served with a salad, beverages and desert.

The highlights of the Banquet were two selections of spoken word delivered by Shirley Terrell-Stone, the Jazz-Spell Psalmist; “Looking In the Mirror and “The Red Carpet Of Leadership”.  Afterwards came the crowning of the Reverend M.S. Chatman Memorial Home Missions District Queens followed by the Presentation of Episcopal Leaders.  Ending Remarks and Benediction was given by Bishop Seth O. Lartey, Presiding Prelate and First Lady Jacqueline Lartey Missionary Supervisor.

Throughout the week various activities included meetings, workshops, communion services, and reports for Church i.e. Delegates, Pastors, and Presiding Elders.  This also included The Episcopal Address,  Christian Education Reports, Missionary Convocation, a candle light Service and a Life Members Stoling Ceremony.

The Annual 2016 Conference ended Sunday  2016 with the Bishop Message of “Let’s Keep It Moving” taken from scripture reading:  Genesis 13:12-18.

His message was that “we must continue to hold on, don’t give up; to remember that every storm is not intended to destroy you.  When God is in the picture your age doesn’t matter.”    He spoke about the U.S. President; of how God took a black man from Kenya, Africa and introduced him to white women out of Wichita, OK and they bore a son named Barack Obama; stating that his name meant praise. That we must keep it moving for it is a dangerous thing to be in a neutral zone.

The climax of the service was when the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church did it’s Ministry of Kindness offering-they blessed a family in need with $1,000.00.

Ending the service with Pomp and Circumstance, the Grand Ushers’ March, the reading of the deceased and acknowledgement of the victims of 911 brought everyone into a solemn occasion.   

The vision that Bishop Lartey and First Lady Jacqueline Inez Williams-Larety has for the Alabama and Florida Episcopal District A.M.E. Zion Churches is: “1. To ignite within each person the passion for winning souls and making disciples. 2.  To unleash the maximum capability of each local church to be an effective witness for Christ and their local communities; which means then that we will have to work towards empowering our minister, empowering our members to be effective salt and light in their respective communities.”

Our final question for the Bishop was “What would be your sustaining remarks as the first African American to visit Pensacola and how would your Adoptive Goals for the Western West Africa Episcopal District benefit the Gulf Coast Region?

The Bishop’s response was “Well as we continue to share in ministry here in Pensacola we know that there will be opportunities for people here in Pensacola to know people in Western West Africa and vice versa, because as you well know the world has become a very small place and it is possible to have begun in the morning here in Pensacola and have dinner in Africa.  And since we are all in this Kingdom business it is going to be wonderful for there to be an exchange of ideas and talents and skills sets as we build God’s Kingdom together.  The Pensacola Voice also asked “being that this was an election year as our first African American Bishop to visit the Pensacola area, what kind of sustaining remarks would you say in the voting rights of African and Black Americans here in regards to choosing a President.. His response was “what we want to focus on is getting our people registered to vote, educating our people on issues and encouraging them to exercise their civic duties because this opportunity has not come easily.  It has come through struggles; people have died, have been lynched, people were killed, people shed their blood, their sweat and their tears for this day to happen and so for us, it is a matter of encouraging our people to realize that they have a responsibility.  The scripture says you are the salt of the earth and the light of the world and so we are encouraging our people to truly exercise their civic duties and responsibilities”.

Speaking with The First Lady Mrs. Jacqueline Inez Williams Lartey, her vision for the Zion Church specifically for women is to work with the women to make sure they are empowered to be the women that they desire and want to be.  First Lady was also in agreement with Bishop; to empower the women to be disciples, to have control of the communities, to produce and to work with their children.  “Our children are to become that holistic family that we were made and created to be,” she said.

As being the Missionary Supervisor of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church she feels that this position would serve to be beneficial to the Gulf Coast Region in such a way; that the women would be empowered to be productive to do great professional things. “By, allowing us to always improve ourselves in terms of education for our children and our communities– this would allow us to make demands and get thing done as how to educate and handle our children.  As you can see we are losing our children to the drugs, weapons and the streets for lack of education.  As educated and empowered women we will be able to take back that control of teaching our children, for we are mothers, the hands that the book says that rocks the cradles; To take those things back by taking control and putting things back into the order that God intended them to be.  By having dominion over the things we were created to have dominion over, making a difference by giving our children an opportunity to become teachers, productive citizens and be able to not make it and survive not only in Pensacola but throughout the world and globally.”

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