Christian Debutante & Masters Commission (DMC) : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

How is the DMC structured in your local church/Episcopal District? It is my belief that this feature of the AMEC functions much like a rite of passage for high school girls and boys. However, judging by the number of participants I'm convinced we are not reaching the majority of these young men and women. One of the chief obstacles is removing the barrier of cost burdens for participant and family. The amount of money required for being a debutante or master can be a significant outlay for lower income families. As a consequence those families that are financially able participate and those that aren't do not. The schism created by wealth disparities also fosters class division. While organizations like Jack & Jill and The Links have been around longer in helping nurture "soft skills" (read: charm, etiquette and grace) for young black girls, these same organizations tend to be democratic in their membership invitation. If our churches are going replicate the services provided by sororities, fraternities and a myriad of social organizations, it would be wise to remember the words of our true Master - "Whosoever will, let him come". Afterall, it wasn't that long ago that aristocratic black members in New Orleans enforced the brown paper bag code with skillful tenacity. QED

-- Anonymous, June 03, 2002


Bill as you know I am new to the denomination so please fill me in about the debutante and master's ball. Do you know when it was started? Is it done in the church. One last question is there any one on the board who participated in this ball.

-- Anonymous, June 04, 2002

The Philadelphia Conference Branch YPD holds a Cotillion every two years. Debutantes and escorts range in age from 15 to 17. In addition, a younger group has been added that includes Rosebuds and Pages. I believe their ages are 8 through 11.

My daughter participated in past years as both a Rosebud and last year as a Debutante. It was truly a wonderful experience for her. The young people are taught Christian values, AME Church history, the social graces and they form lasting friendships with peers and also adults who mentored them through the cotillion classes and rehearsals. Usually, the education process begins in September and they meet monthly (sometimes twice a month) until the actual ball which takes place at the end of April.

The cotillion is held at the First District Plaza,3801 Market Street in Philadelphia. (A modern spacious banquet facility owned by the AME Church.) The Debutantes are dressed beautifully in long white flowing gowns while their fly Escorts dress in tuxedoes. During the year a professional dancer "The Diva" is brought in to instruct the young people (male and female) in various dances which they perform the night of the cotillion. The Escorts, on their own, perform a step show/dance routine they specially prepared for the Debutantes. Each Escort and Debutante is presented a plaque, savings bond (and flowers for the girls). In addition, each Debutant's father and/or guardian is dressed in a tuxedo and participates in a waltz with the deb. It is absolutely beautiful to see.

It can be quite expensive to participate in a cotillion. There is the cost of the tuxedo rental for the Pages, Escorts and fathers. The Rosebuds and Debutantes incur costs for dress fabric, jewelry, shoes, etc. There is also an additional cost for ads and patrons. The church sponsoring the young people usually defay some of the cost to the parent. Also, various church organizations such as the missionaries and YPD help out a lot. Many times, individual church members help with the cost so that no young person is denied the cotillion experience. In all my years in the Philadelphia Conference I have never seen a young person denied being in the cotillion because of money. If a YPD Director is made aware of a particular child's circumstances every action is taken to insure that person participates. In addition, I personally know of individuals who provided young people with money, clothing, etc. when the parents werent' able to contribute.

When you have wonderful leadership it makes a difference. Diane Smart, the Philadelphia Conference Branch YPD Director loves her young people and they lover her in return. The cotillion experience is valuable and I pray it continues.

-- Anonymous, June 11, 2002

Mary thank you so much for sharing with me what the ball is and how it impacts so positively on our young people. It sounds wonderful!! I am definitely going to put this on my prayer list for this is something to do in the upcoming years. Our kids would love it! And so would the parents. Mary my Bishop told me he met you recently when he was in the first district. Thank you for your kind words. Isn't this board incredible. For me as a new A.M.E pastor and with a new A.M.E church I have been mentored so lovingly by you and others on the board. Thanks for explaing the ball it sounds like fun.

-- Anonymous, June 11, 2002

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