136th Session of the Texas Annual Conference Concludes

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The 136th Session of the TExas Annual Conference concluded its week of work last Saturdyy, October 5. Hosted by Dr. Marshall Hobbs, Sr. and the Payne Cathedral of Faith (Houston) at the Sheraton Bush Intercontinetal Hotel, Bishop McKinley Young (109) conducted a meeting filled with great preaching and higher expectations of his ministry team. In the interest of brevioty I am enclosing my notes from the opening and closing sermons. The opening sermon is reprinted with permission of Rev. Thelma Maxwell.

Choir Selections Lift Up Your Heads O Ye Gates God Gets the Glory Highest Praise

Annual Preacher - Rev. Thelma Maxwell, Pastor, Wolridge Chapel, Houston

The conference began with a rapid processional of the 53 pastors, 56 MNPs, stewardesses, two elders, choirs, Mayor Lee P. Brown of Houston, and the bishop of the tenth, McKinley Young to the accompaniment of "We're Marching to Zion". The Mayor of Houston, the Honorable Lee P. Brown, greeted welcomed the conference as a member of Payne Cathedral, and presented to Bishop Young a proclamation for the week as "Texas Annual Conference Days". Bishop Young, in his introductory comments, observed that several "did not answer the call", and went on up. He exhorted the conference to remember, "we know somebody who is able", that "we're not smart enough, we're not rich enough". For some the year has been to long, for others, the year hasn't been long enough. Bishop noted that we have identified a "preacher in the midst of the fellowship." Rev. Thelma Maxwell has pastored at Wolridge Chapel for 7 years. She received her undergraduate and Master of Education from TSU, and her M. Div. from Houston Graduate School of Theology. Rev. Maxwell began her presentation with an extensive roll call. Rev. Maxwell took the time to thank Payne Cathedral for the music, her church for taking off from work and school to be at the conference, her mother, Lillian Maxwell, who stood by her since her announcement to preach, and her mentor, Mrs. Bundage. Taking her text from Joshua 17:14-18, Rev. Maxwell preached on the subject "Challenges to the Children of the Anvil". The Opening Sermon

To get to the Promised Land, you have to navigate your way through the wilderness. All of us encounter obstacles and challenges along the way. How we respond to them and view them as the most important decision that we make. A path with no obstacles does not lead anywhere. Success does not come without challenges. You can always measure a person by the amount of opposition it takes to discourage them. When waters rise, you can too. You do not have to go under, you can go over. Even if you cannot swim, you can float. You can make it. It's all up to you. Under the leadership of Joshua, the Israelites had pushed across the Jordan and had established a command center in Gilgath. Now Joshua was old and advanced in year, and the Lord said to him "You are old and advanced in years, and there's very little land left to be possessed. " God reminds Joshua that he's getting old, but "I have assigned you a task." When God gives us an assignment, He expects the job to get done. The longer we wait, we only make it difficult on our own selves. Because God has not changed His mind; as a matter of fact, He says, " I the Lord, change not." Nobody else can do what God has assigned for you to do. We have battles to win, territories to conquer, but we must be dependent upon God for the victories. There is no question that God wants us to possess what He has given us. The scripture says it is the Lord's good pleasure to give to you the kingdom. The Psalmist says "The Lord takes pleasure in the prosperity of His servants." God wants you to have the fruit of life. God wants you to have the fat of the lamb. God wants to give to you the increase. And now, a problem, a complaint. And the children of Joseph said to Joshua, "Why has Thy given me but one lot, and one portion to inherit, seeing that I am a great people?" A great people - Not only were they great in number, but they believed themselves to be great in God's eyesight. Ephraim and Manasseh were the sons of Joseph, born to him after he was elevated to a position second only to Pharaoh in authority in Egypt. Ephraim - God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my afflictions. Manasseh - the oldest - God calls me to forget all of my problems. Joseph was father. Joseph was daddy. Joseph name brought a hush to any crowd. Their grandfather Jacob had blessed them and told them that they would be great. They were a great people. They were related to somebody - Joseph's son. Their relative Joshua had been chosen boy God Himself to lead all of Israel. Joshua was blood, from the tribe, a homeboy, bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh. They were a great people. We as African Methodists are a great people. Many here today are second and third and fourth generations. We are a great people. We have a rich heritage. From our Founder, Richard Allen, to the great horsemen William Paul Quinn, Daniel Alexander Payne, and Henry McNeal Turner, we are a great people. From an anvil shop until now, we are great people. For over 200 years, she has rebuked the demons of racism and poverty - we are great people. She has shined a beacon light and presented a source of hope and brotherhood. Her motto was stamped in the heart of her father and runs in the veins of her children. We are a great people. But remember the words of Jesus - "to whom much is given, much is required." Now Joshua had a response. Joshua had an answer, "If thou be a great [people, cut down some trees." The mountain is yours, as well as the valley. Now the children of Joseph wanted more, but they didn't want to work or pay for it. The Canaanites had chariots. It was a challenging place for them. If you want more, climb the mountain, cut down the trees, and go into the valley, drive out the enemy, and possess the land! And father Jacob had to wrestle all night for A blessing, and it left him injured, and he walked with a limp the rest of his life. But he got just hat he wanted from the Lord. Remember church, faith without works is dead! We as children of the anvil have rested too long on the achievements and contributions of our forefathers, while there remains very much land to possess. Ephraim and Manasseh had a Burger King mentality. Too many of us have adopted that same approach. We want it, don't fool yourself, oh yes we do, we want it, but it must be our way. We have forgotten that we will not be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease. With biological warfare looming, suicide bombers, war on the home front, political and social injustice in the land, there remains very much land to possess. Quoting Julian Bond: "One political party is shameless, and the other spineless." Drugs are still a major factor in our communities. Crack, the drug of preference for most black men, is now hard to get. More black men in jail than on college campuses. There is a growing number of our prison population being infected with HIV, and being released back into the general population. More black sisters, than any other population, are being infected with HIV because of bisexual husbands and lovers, and intravenous drug use. Babies having babies - there remains very much land to possess. Police brutality on the rise - when you can beat a teenager that is already handcuffed, and then jail the one who reported the incident, there remains very much land to possess. Fortune 500 CEOs falling like dominoes, Wall Street shaking, Martha Stewart jiving, and Bush just full of … There remains very much land to possess. We as Children of the Anvil look in disbelief and amazement. We don not have the luxury of resting on our history, based on the fact that "We are a great people." We must continue to shape and mold history. We pattern the model after his story - Yes his story - "God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." Now the challenge: You will not inherit the blessing of God without faith and hard work. Now the challenge - climb the mountain. Mountains are steep. The latitude is high. It takes some energy to climb mountains. Not only does it take energy, but because of the altitude, it can be difficult breathing as you climb up. My God wants to take you higher, but for some, the altitude will kill them. So they try to keep you down, because if you take them too, the altitude will kill them. Nevertheless, we as children of the anvil have to elevate our thinking and broaden our horizons. The African in our name only indicates that we are of African descent, and not just a "black church." Our neighborhoods have changed with us in the midst. Elevate your thinking. What society has thrown away, we must reclaim. After the feeding of the 5000, Jesus said gather up the fragments that remain so nothing will be lost. Climb the mountain. Cut down the trees. Go into the valley. Drive out the enemy. And possess the land. Once you reach the top of the mountain, there's still more work to be done. Cut down some trees. Challenges: it was not enough to climb the mountain, but there's still more work to be done. Tired from climbing the mountain, out of breath, and you has to cut down some trees. Others died from just trying to climb the mountain. Climb the mountain. Cut down the trees. Go into the valley. Drive out the enemy. And possess the land. Cut down trees - dope, fear, disbelief, mistrust, misplaced loyalty, prejudices, sexism, little church-big church attitudes, jealousy, envy - Climb the mountain. Cut down the trees. Go into the valley. Drive out the enemy. And possess the land. Now some have the attitude "let's stay where we are. Don't worry about the valley." That's the challenge. The Canaanites had iron chariots, but God expects us to possess what he has given us. Ephraim and Manasseh viewed the Canaanites as a challenge to large for them to tackle. Joshua had already assured them of the victory. All they had to do was climb the mountain. Cut down the trees. Go into the valley. Drive out the enemy. And possess the land. Our God is a mighty God. Nothing is too hard for him. If he says I am victorious, then I am victorious; I am all that God says I am. I am the head and not the tail, I am more than a conqueror. Climb the mountain. Don't' stop short of your victory. You don't have to settle for a marshland when you can have the whole thing. Children of the anvil, you are a great people. Don't let Satan steal your victory. Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. Climb the mountain. Cut down the trees. Go into the valley. Drive out the enemy. And possess the land.

Closing Sermon
The Rev. Samuel Green - St. Mark, Orlando, FL (11) "Blow the Shofar" We bless the name of God to day in this house. God is an awesome God, and a wonderful God. I love Him, I love Him, I love Him. I'm grateful to him today for life, health, and strength. God I thank you and I bless you in this house today. Anybody here want to bless God today? I come to bless not because of what he can do, but for what he's already done. I thank him for saving me, I'm not ashamed of saying and acknowledging that I'm saved, and I thank him for salvation. To the bishop of this conference: I honor him and thank him for bringing me here this morning. I thank him for what he's done in my life and his commitment for helping others. I thank him for the invitation to come and share in this annual conference. I thank Dr. Dorothy Jackson young. She has sweetness and a pleasantness that causes you to be able to be yourself. To her daughter who is sharing here today, I greet you. To the general officer, the presiding elders, the host pastor, all the assembled pastors, visiting elders, and pastors, and all of the protocol established by bishop young, in greet you in Jesus' joy.' While you are reaching for your bibles and turning to the book of numbers, I like to acknowledge that I am a candidate for the office of bishop. I acknowledge your candidate from the 10the, but you do know that they are going to elect 7. I just want to be one of the other 6. The book of numbers, 10th chapter, reading at verse 8. (NLT) "Only the priest, Aaron's descendants, are allowed to blow the trumpets. This is a permanent law to be followed form generation to generation. When you arrive in your own land, you must sound the alarm with trumpets so the lord your God will remember you and rescue you from your enemies…" Turn to your neighbor and say "neighbor, blow the Shofar." The Shofar is a horn that comes from a Yemenite goat in Africa. It was imported to Israel/. It was used as an instrument throughout the bible. Throughout the bible the instrument we're more familiar with in English is "trumpet". If you translate it back to Hebrew it will denote Shofar. But a Shofar in biblical days was not used just as a musical instrument. It was a powerful instrument used in various ceremonies as well as battles. Today in our text the bible tells that the Shofar was to be blown as an ordinance from God. You do know that ordinance means command, order, or law. We have been ordered by God, commanded by God, it's a law from God that we should blow the Shofar. God is making it a law and not an option. You can't make a choice today on whether or not you're going g to blow it. It is a law from God that on this day you should blow the Shofar. It is not just a musical instrument. At times it was used in ceremonies and battles. It was use throughout various scriptures for various reasons in war. It was blown to summon soldiers, to let the soldiers know it's time to get up, put on the whole armor, and deal with the upcoming enemy. We have to learn to blow the Shofar to summon the soldiers who're on the battlefield for our lord. At other times it was used to warn the city that there's an invasion on the way, to let the folk in the city know to wake up, the enemy's on the outside, hiding behind trees and in ditches, circling all around the city. Sometimes they would call for the men to stand and blow the Shofar to warn that there was an invasion on the way. At other times it was blown in battle to tell the children of Israel it was time to attack. The Shofar was not only a musical instrument, but as an instrument of spiritual warfare. It's time for us to declare war on Satan. I know my brothers and sisters that some of you have been fighting a long time, and you've been fighting from conference to conference, and you'll feel like there's no more fight within you, but I come to tell \you that there's a war still going on. Satan is still busy, trying to steal men, ruin our children, causing havoc on your job. We've got to come to the point that we're ready to attack the enemy. It's time for us to fight. This conference year as you face new challenges and new opportunities, you have to take on the people of God. This community don't belong to you, but it belongs to the lord. You remember the story of Gideon? When Gideon had 3000 men and God downsized his army to 300? Do you remember when Gideon stood there in the valley; Gideon took his men and surrounded the Midianites in the valley? Gideon told them to put torches in your left hand, and the Shofar in your right hand. And at the proper time, the bible says s that told them to blow the Shofar. If you learn how to blow the Shofar, it will cause your enemy to fight one another, and kill themselves off. The reason why the Midianites started fighting against one another, in Revelation 1:10-11 it tells us that the trump sounds like the voice of God. I declare to you today that the voice of God will confuse the enemy every time. You've got to learn how to blow the voice of God in your family affairs, your financial situation, and your sickness. It's time for you to stop losing your mind up in here, because of something the devil's done to you. Today my brothers and sisters, whatever he has been doing to you, it's time for you to stand up and say "i ain't gonna take it no more." I ain't gonna take your hands on my money, my family, my territory, my job, my life. Throw your head back and say "I ain't gonna take it no more." You ought to tell the devil "Hit the road jack, and don't you come back no more." The bible says it's time for us to start fighting back. The bible say only the priest shall blow the Shofar, and they shall blow it from generation to generation. I thank God today for Jesus Christ, who made it available for the priesthood of all believers. That means everybody today ought to be able to blow the Shofar. The bishop, elders, pastors, stewards, trustees, the youth - every body can blow the Shofar. The bible says the lord will hear the sound of the Shofar. It will get the lord's attention. As we minister, pastor, counsel, and teach, we need the lord's attention. Every Sunday, every day of the week we need to know it's time for us to get God's attention. You' We been getting everybody else's attention, who's who's attention, it's time to get God's attention. God says I'm waiting on you to sound the alarm to get my attention. In the 9the verse it tells us if you bow the Shofar it will bring forth victory. When you arrive in your own land - your new appointment, or your appointment - when you go out in your communities and you fight against drug abuse, school dropout rates, families falling apart, the ills of our society. When you sound the alarm, the lord your God will remember you and give you victory. Bless his name. I don't know about you, but I know today that I've got victory. If you just call on the name of God, the bible says that you've God victory. God says I'll give you victory - down in the valley, on the mountaintop, I'll give it to you. But you've go to learn how to blow the Shofar. How can I blow the trumpet? I don't even own an instrument? What will cause God to turn his attention to my situation? I'm so glad you asked me that. I heard in the book of psalms "let everything that hath breath praise the lord." "Make a joyful noise unto the lord, all ye lands." I come to tell you, you may not have a trumpet, but you ought to have some praise. If you praise him, it will get God's attention, because God inhabits the praises of his people. Shout yeah! If you blow it, the crooked will get straight, the rough will get smooth, the exalted made low, and the low exalted. God will make a way out of no way. I'm going to blow it. Preachers, when you get back to your churches, stop trying to be cute and stop trying to show how well you can exegete, and all your homiletic skills. Blow it. Blow it when you're up, down, when you want to go, when you don't, on the firsts, second, third, fourth, even fifth Sunday. When you blow it, power will come down. Anybody here ready to blow the Shofar? Say yeah! I want to know if anybody here knows that God has been good to you, that God has brought you a mighty long way. Anybody here can praise the lord? Anybody here can magnify him? Anybody here want to give God praise and glory? Anybody here know that if it had not been for the lord on your side, you would not be here today? Wave your hand, shout yeah! Glory! Hey! I dare you today to turn to your neighbor: "neighbor, I don't know about you, but I know that the lord has been good to me, and I can praise him for who he is and what he's done. He's done great things for me. Picked me up, turned me around, placed my feet on solid ground. One Friday he saved me gave me the Holy Ghost, and power. I love the lord; he heard my cry. I promised the lord a long as I live, when troubles rise…

-- Anonymous, October 09, 2002

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