Are there any cooks in the church? : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

With recent fallout of the accounting scandals and the new phrase "cooking the books", could this be the case within some of our churches and figures reported during the business session of an annual conference? Do some of our churches suffer from bloated figures dealing with the size of the membership and amount raised? I shudder to think of such things...especially within the church!

-- Anonymous, August 10, 2002


Whether intentionally or unintentionally, our books are cooked for internal political purposes. I have no confidence in the publicly reported membership totals. It is commonly stated that the AMEC consists of 2.5 million. What is this based on and how frequently is this updated? For several years I have been asking why can't we just commission a census before each General Conference to get an accurate count. Seems to me this should be a paramouont goal of Clement Fugh's office in Nashville. The problems of Rev. Henry Lyons and the National Baptist, USA began with exaggerated numbers about the denomination. Our methodology for defining membership is in need of serious repair. If I have to keep a record log on who attends my local Church School why can't pastors be required to do a census each Sunday about who attneds? I would appoint the usher board in charge to do a head count twice- 1st the general offering, 2nd, right before the pastor delivers his sermon. If we are not careful this issue about under/overreporting our membership and concomitant financial status will be our Trojan Horse. "He that hath ears to hear, let me hear" QED

-- Anonymous, August 10, 2002

Somehow I knew the above response was from Bro. Bill, even before I got to the second sentence.

At my congregation, the ushers do take a count each week, but the figures are never published. Even when I was a trustee, I was generally unable to get the the count through "official" means. [sometimes I simply asked the ushers doing the count]. We, congregationally and connectionally, have fudged our figures for quite some time and they contain more "yeast" than Mrs. Jimerson's rolls. (Mrs. Jimerson is the best roll baker in St. Paul). Yes, it is political. The United Methodists and some other major denominations have adjusted their figures downward and are trying to address the matter of declining membership while we continue going merrily along as if all is okay. It will probably take leadership from the laity to effective bring the matter to the forefront.

-- Anonymous, August 10, 2002

Dear Brother

The laity can and should make a difference. I fully agree with the comments of Professor Dickens. We may be guilty of cooking much longer than most.

God's best to you all

Bro. Nalton

-- Anonymous, August 12, 2002


While I am certain that there definitely are cooks in the church and that they have cooked for some time, yet I think the problem is not as great as we suppose it to be. I am almost certain that the figure 2.5 million persons is an accurate one based on the work of our Presiding Elders who know the " real" truth.

The notion that we seem to be losing a lot of members does not take into account the shifts to some of the larger congregations, which have slowly but surely grown. A look at such churches as Ebenezer in Detroit--one of the earliest true mega-chruches, Saint Philip in Atlanta, And First AME in Los Angeles will bear this out. Those in attendance of most Connectional meetings also know that most cities where we have met have been overwhelmed, surprised and hard pressed to accommodate the number of persons who attend. However, neither of these negates the fact that we still need to keep an accurate record and publish the count.

More often than not the shift occurs when some unthinking copycat pastors try to make us something other than AME. A Methodist Church without the method, the order and its distinctive form of worship becomes null and void. The AME Church cannot be and was not intended to be everything to everybody. It is inherently and distinctively AME. No one is holding a gun on anyone and saying becomes an AME. But there is room for all and there are those who will always be AME and proud to be.

My own Episcopal District consists of more than 500 pastoral charges-- some of these charges have three churches--no matter what their size. My Episcopal District is also one of the largest. It has six Annual Conferences (combined from eight) and more churches and members than some of the multi-state Districts found in the west. Many Bishops have stated that they have been surprised that the Atlanta-North Conference is as large as that of New York. The Atlanta-North also presently has 108 pastoral charges.

When I attend a District-wide Meeting, I am also impressed with the large number of youth who attend. I am made proud when their talent is put on display. For they are alive and well and their talent is truly blessed by God. So if we dared to take a look and take an accurate count we might be pleasantly surprised that our work has grown and been richly blessed by God.

-- Anonymous, August 12, 2002


Bro. Robert, you are, as always, on point with this. The wisdom just flows here.

There's always going to be some issue where number fudging may be present...that's the fleshly part coming out. Being a member of your district, I attest to your comments. Referencing to being and understanding AMEism( my little term) is what has made the denomination what it is.

Yes, I am proud to be an AME. It's a family legacy(at least on the paternal side). Simply speaking, I love being able to worship at any AME service and be able to follow, along with other aspects. I love our methods...our ways of worship. Yes, it is important to not be totally and solely caught up in the rituals. It is imperative that the Holy Spirit is allowed to flow and move and work. But, our rituals are an important factor of what and why we are.

Bro. Ray, This is a concern that I too feel can be a quest for the Lay Organization. But whatever the case may truly be, I also feel there are alot more pressing issues to pursue in kingdom building.

Press On!

-- Anonymous, August 17, 2002

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