Thursday, August 19, 2010

Youth Convocation’s 30th Anniversary

By Deaconess Carol Viaer

Our Youth Pastor, Rev. David Francis, had an idea that was presented to the youth leaders early in the year. He outlined several themes and scriptures for us and requested that we choose one for our youth to live up to for the full year and possibly the next. We all had to memorize the theme and instill in the youth to do the same:

We Are S.P.I.R.I.T.
Showing God’s love to others
Praising God in His presence
Included in God’s family
Returning a part of our blessings
Inviting others to know Jesus
Training to be like Jesus

Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. I Timothy 4:12

The task seemed easy but there were many unforeseen obstacles and challenges in our path that had to be overcome. We had to put aside past differences and come together for our youth. Putting on our armor of God and staying prayerful, we strived to meet our goal which was to put the past behind us and show all that as ONE we would prevail.

We began our celebration with the Saturday Church School closing where our youth poured out their talents. The Primary class, under the leadership of Deacon Rhona Russell, portrayed Jonah Learns to Obey God. The youth made the props for the scene. The Junior class displayed the book of Ruth in A New Life for Us, a skit written by Ajee Davis Burley under the leadership of Deaconess Carol Viaer. And the Intermediate class displayed Lessons To Remember, portraying several scriptures learned throughout the year in a game show version of What’s My Line?, under the leadership of Deacon Johnnie Davis, Jr., Jacqueline Gilyard, Mark Green and Sandra Francis.

For this year’s Convocation, Ms. Anna Caldwell had a vision for a musical concert. She brought her ideas to the Youth Board and together we proceeded to make her vision a reality. The youth were given challenges to assist in making this a memorable Convocation. Needless to say, it was no easy task. This concert presented many problems for us all--space for rehearsals, the children being able to attend rehearsals, and more than one ministry utilizing the same children.

Dance the Word Youth opened our concert with an African dance choreographed by youths Daquan Anderson and Mia-Michelle Russell. It was exciting to see one of our alumni youth, Sade Henry, performing with the African dance group. The Youth Mime Ministry also ministered a piece that was outstanding.

Securing the alumni youth was an even greater task for all, but mainly fell on the shoulders of Deacon Michael “Grand Pooba” Russell who believes in staying in contact with our youth either by phone or computer. All resources were utilized to bring all the youth together and the end result is what was witnessed on Sunday, June 13th. The youth came from Maryland, upstate New York, New Jersey, Virginia and Georgia. Getting them to rehearsals was another feat, but the end results were truly breathtaking.

The concert brought tears of joy to many of us as we danced in the aisles, clapped our hands, stomped our feet and played imaginary instruments, as we listened to the angelic voices of our youth. One could not help but praise God, just to see our youth on one accord singing the praises of Zion. It seems not so long ago that these same youth came in second place in the McDonald’s Gospelfest. It was good to see Isarel Walker conduct his “children” like old times, with no restrictions on him, and Junior Deacon Edward Taylor in a new role as conductor of the Church School Choir. Anna Caldwell tickled those ivories in a brand new way. Pastor Johnson truly enjoyed himself when he joined the youth in the choir loft, keeping in step as he sang and even played an instrument.

The youth continued the celebration of their convocation with activities on Monday, June 14th when they explored their African heritage by learning of their past from the elders of Canaan interviewed by the youth; Tuskegee airman Darby Montgomery; former Black Panther Leon Harris, and NAACP Youth Officers of the Mid Manhattan Branch, Mia-Michelle Russell, President and Wesley Sinckler, 1st Vice President. On Tuesday, June 15th the youth displayed their talents in a radio show on WCBCC, with radio personalities DJ Sandman (Coach Bill) and DJ Mini Me (Mia-Michelle), and with skits from various youth groups and a poem from our neighboring youth, Akira Carr of First Corinthian Baptist Church. On Wednesday, June 16th the youth led the church in prayer and devotion at the Wednesday Midweek Prayer Service.

The youth and the adult youth leaders truly enjoyed this celebration. There are so many to thank for this marvelous celebration of yet another Youth Convocation. All praise is given to our Heavenly Father who instilled in us that, through Him, everything is possible.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Reverend Aldridge "Pop" Miller Health Station

One of the greatest blessings in my ministry has been meeting, knowing and serving with the late Reverend Aldridge Miller. For many years Reverend Miller or “Pops” as he was affectionately called, served as Pastor of Visitation for Canaan Baptist Church of Christ. His commitment to Christian ministry was nothing short of remarkable. To the very end, he was a preacher and pastoral care giver to so many Canaan Disciples and others throughout the community. His ministry was one of showing mercy to others.

Among our many achievements in year 4, I am very proud of our decision to rename our nurses room as the Reverend Aldridge “Pops” Miller Health Station. Through the hard work of Bethesda ministry, the good will of others who choose to be unnamed and the support of the Canaan Family, this heath station is equipped with a comfortable recliner, first-aid material, diagnostic equipment for hypertension and diabetes and appropriate beverages for those who become ill during our worship service. This new heath station is a huge step in the right direction. We are now prepared to bring aid to those taken ill while at Canaan with a modernly equipped room and a qualified nursing staff. We have already seen the benefits of this ministry and I am certain we will have a growing appreciation for health care services provided at our health station.

Anyone who knew “Pop Miller,” will understand how appropriate it was to name this center for a man who truly exemplified holistic ministry in both word and deed. He was blessed with the gift of healing and each one of us is the better because he passed our way. Thank God for the REVEREND ALDRIDGE “POPS” MILLER HEALTH CENTER!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Evangelism: Still the Mission of the Church

This blog is part 2 of pastoral reflections leading up to the celebration of my 36th year in ministry and my 4th year as Senior Pastor of the historic Canaan Baptist Church of Christ.

Most of you reading this probably don't recognize the name Bennie Hicks. Bennie accepted the Lord Jesus Christ on an August afternoon during our annual evangelism cookout in E.M. Moore parking lot. He was presented to the Canaan Congregation, completed his new disciples training, was baptized (after several delays due to repairs on our baptistery) missed receiving the right hand of fellowship but attended Church soon thereafter to receive his fellowship and baptismal certificate. Some of you will recall that I invited Bennie to the pulpit to receive this acknowledgement.

In 36 years of ministry, I have never witnessed an individual who pursued their membership in the Body of Christ with such passion. He was relentless. After several postponements he even admonished me about when his baptism would occur. When I eventually baptized Bennie, he remained in the pool for several minutes before ascending the stairway to celebrate his new found faith. I will never forget the Sunday I presented Bennie his baptismal certificate. Not many hours after the benediction that day, Bennie died after being hit by a car on Henry Hudson Parkway in New York City. That day we lost a special person in our congregation and our personal lives; but he went to God with ticket in hand. He met in Savior at the Evangelism cookout, and saw his savior on the Lord’s Day, the day he received the right hand of fellowship into the local church.

Evangelism doesn't get much press in the modern Church. That's okay because Evangelism was never intended to be the public relations department of the Church. It is the means by which the Church honors The Great Commission; going into the world and preaching the Gospel to every creature. Evangelism is not something we choose to do; it is something we must do.

While I look forward to eventually assigning a minister of Evangelism, the Canaan Evangelism Commission works tirelessly to reach out to those in the world with a message from the Lord. As part of our church wide vision, the Commission, under the leadership of Chairperson Gloria Evans, conducted a sidewalk ministry in front of Canaan in connection with the Spring Revival. They sang hymns, passed out tracts and witnessed to walkers bye about God and invited many to attend our services. I am so proud of this dedicated group of Christians and I look forward to seeing what God will do through our Evangelism Commission next.

I dedicate this blog in loving memory of Brother Bennie Hicks!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Reflections of a Pastor

April 2010 is a special time in my life as a Christian minister. In a couple of weeks, I will celebrate my 36th year as clergy and my 4th year as Senior Pastor of this historic Canaan Baptist Church of Christ. Leading up to our congregational celebration of my pastorate, I will be writing several blogs highlighting, from a pastoral perspective, what God has helped Canaan and Pastor to accomplish during the past year. I will be most appreciative to Canaan Disciples and persons who visit our website around the world if you would take time to read my reflections.

This week I took a little time of to rest and reflect on what God continues to do in my life, the lives of my family members and those whom the Lord has sent me to serve. This is something I encourage each of you to do from time to time. It is only when we step away for a moment that we can fully appreciate what is amazing about God’s grace. The Apostle Paul was right; His grace is sufficient to keep us.

For 36 years I have tried to honor the calling on my life to shepherd the People of God wherever the Lord sent me. I lost count many years ago of how many sermons I have preached, Bible studies conducted, marriages performed, babies dedicated and funerals preached and so much else ministers all called upon to do in the parish and beyond. During the last few days I have tried to look back and capsulate my collective experiences as a Pastor. Needless to say, they have far exceeded my imagination and the expectations of others. I can truly say God has been faithful! My colleagues in this vocation will surely agree that ministry by any standard is extremely challenging. And yet, most of us who are called to this work continue to press toward the mark to receive the approval of God. Not every preacher reaches the 36-year mark of service. I have and I am grateful to God. I was 17 years old when I preached my first sermon in April 1974. The Lord has been with me every step of the way. Praise the Lord!

I will continue these thoughts via my blog from now up to the anniversary celebration. Thank you for visit our website and for sharing these reflections with me.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Dear Lord,

Today, through your servant Barack Obama, millions of Americans will be lifted into the circle of affordable healthcare, allowing them to enjoy a quality of living heretofore reserved for the "haves." We thank you! And, we pray that you will protect our president and all those who took a stand for what is right. Today, oh Lord, our eyes have seen Thy glory.

In Jesus' name,

Amen! Amen! Amen!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Be Counted: 2010 Census


This issue of the Canaan Voice comes at a very important time in the life of our community and nation. This month, more than 103 million addresses across the United States will receive a 2010 Census form. The U.S. Constitution requires a national census once every 10 years for the purpose of reapportioning the U.S. House of Representatives. Every person living in the United States must be counted. This includes all people of all races, ethnic groups, citizens and noncitizens. Additionally, census data directly affect how more than $400 billion per year in federal funding is distributed to state, local and tribal governments.

By now or very soon, you will have received your 2010 Census form. It is very important that you complete and mail back your form. Also, you should encourage your family, friends and neighbors to do the same. This is so important! The data collected is used to determine voting districts for all levels of city, state and nationally elected offices. Also, you will help guide funding decisions for our schools, hospitals and childcare centers. More importantly, you will strengthen our community’s voice in Congress. There are also other benefits for our community using this census data:

· Attraction of new businesses to our community
· Directing funds for service to the people in poverty
· Planning for congregations
· Developing adult education programs

These are just a few benefits of being counted.

For the past ten years, we have witnessed the erosion of so many initiatives, which have historically catapulted countless people who began their quest for self-reliance on the margins to the fulfillment of quality education, home ownership, full time employment and adequate health care. Unfortunately, too many people in our community have been left on the margins. There are so many ways the community of faith can bring a rising tide to boats stuck at the bottom. Among our resources is our own government whose commitment to serve is all-inclusive. For one hundred forty-five years, African Americans have worked to be included as full-fledged citizens of this great republic. Many sacrifices have been made which have enabled our race, family and community to enjoy the rights and privileges afforded to us by the U.S. Constitution. Today, we have yet another opportunity to help ourselves, our children, their children and future generations. Complete your census form and return it to the U.S. Census Bureau without delay. Stand up and be counted! You will not have this opportunity again until the year 2020. If you have questions, you can get answers by logging on to

God bless each of you and God bless Canaan Baptist Church of Christ.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

President Obama Needs Our Prayers

Recent days have been most troubling for our Commander-In-Chief. Since taking office one year ago, this bright young man, full of intellect and vision set our country out on a course toward new opportunities while healing ourselves from the vestages of two wars, a failing economy, record national employment rates, eschalating home foreclosures and a national citizenry grown weary with Washington's inability in inact change for the benefit of families, senior citizens, children and communities across the country.

Our President has had a tough time from day one. He came into office with our finances in a total wreck. He came into office as a war president, engaged in theatres on two foreign fronts. All the while, he has given so much of himself to move a health care bill through Congress that would enable tens-of-thousands of Americans to receive quality heath care. Barack Obama is a man whom we can truly say is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. And then, at the end of the day, he has a family; a wife and two lovely daughters who need his nuture, some of his time and a great deal of his love.

We must pray for our President. For behind the scenes, out of view of the national press, you will find a man and his family. The Obama's! Take a moment right now to lift our nation's First Family in prayer. Ask God to provide protection, insight, courage, wisdom and hope for this rising star in world history. God bless the President and his family.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Offering for Haitian Crisis to be received Sunday, January 31, 2010

Good Afternoon Beloved: The humanitarian needs for Haiti continues to increase as each day passes since Tuesday, January 12, 2010 when an earthquake devestated this small Carribbian Island inhabited by nearly two million people.

On Sunday, January 31, Canaan Baptist Church of Christ will receive a freewill offering from our disciples and other people of goodwill to send to the mission to save lives and restore homes of countless who have suffered tremendous loss. I am asking each of you to pray about what you may be able to give for this cause. Our Social Action Commission will be working with the American Red Cross to facilitate our contribution in the region. So remember, Sunday, January 31, 2010 is Haiti Relief Day at Canaan. Please come prepared to make a generous offering to support this cause.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Canaan Will Respond To Crisis in Haiti

By now we are all aware of the devestating earthquake that took place in Haiti earlier this week. Our prayers go out to families who have suffered loss and are missing loved ones; the govermental leaders of Haiti; relief workers on the grounds and on the to Haiti to assist in rescue and recovery.

Please be assured that Canaan will do her part in supporting the relief effort in Haiti. I have asked our Social Action Commission to take the lead in this effort. I expect to speak with Commission leader Howard Inman in the next few days and as soon as possible, we will announce to the congregation what we intend to do and how each disciple can help.

For now, let us continue to pray that God will relieve the suffering on the part of the People of Haiti.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Canaan Week of Fasting and Day of Prayer

Happy New Year to the Canaan Family and to all our friends around the world who keep in touch via our Website. Our prayer is that 2010 will be a year of good health and prosperity for each of you. This week, January 4-9, Canaan is observing of week of fasting and prayer. On Wednesday, January 6, the sanctuary will be set aside for a day of silent prayer. You are invited to come to Canaan between the hours of 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. and prayer with others as we seek help and guidance from the Lord. For those of you who may not be able to attend, please remember Canaan in your private and public petitions to God. To assist you, I am providing a list of our prayer concerns and other information relative to our Day of Prayer.

Canaan Baptist Church of Christ
Harlem, NY
Our Theme for 2010 – WE BELIEVE! (Philippians 4)

Day of Prayer
Wednesday, January 6, 2009
9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.

”And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Matthew 21:22

Throughout this day, our church family gathers to express our thanks to the Savior and to beseech the help of The Almighty to aid us in this season of challenge. We encourage each disciple to enter the sanctuary and spend to with God in prayer. Listed below is a list of prayer concerns for which we ask you to take before the Lord.

· For Forgiveness of our sins
· For peace in the United States and around the world
· For Canaan Baptist Church of Christ and each of her disciples
· For Our Senior Pastor, Rev. Dr. Thomas D. Johnson, Sr. and his family
· For our Pastor Emeritus, Rev. Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker and his family
· For our Pastoral and Administrative Staff
· For the Vision God has placed among us through our Senior Pastor
· For Unity within our Church Family
· For our outgoing Chairs of the Official Board, Deacons Marvin Pettus, Anthony Petersen and Robert Turner and their families
· For the incoming Officers of the Official Board Deacons Johnnie Davis, Louise Gadsen and Walter Mayo and their families
· For outgoing members of our Board of Trustees including Chairman William Bazemore
· For incoming trustees including our new Chair Gertene Winston-Luccas and their families
· For the sick and shut-in disciples of our church family
· For the poor and grieving families among us
· For all commissions and ministries in our congregation

Reverse side
· For the Holy Spirit to inspire love and true fellowship among us
· For the end of this economic recession and the increase of employment opportunities for our disciples and others around the nation
· For Tommy Rembert and Leslie Powell, parents of the late Kyle Rembert
· For strengthening of our stewardship and financial blessings upon Canaan and each of her disciples
· For President Barack Obama; Governor David Paterson and all others who lead us during this time of economic crisis.
· For the end of war in Iraq, Afghanistan and in other places in the world

Please Feel Free to Add Your Prayer Request and Leave for others as they enter for Prayer!
God,Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,the Courage to change the things I canand the Wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;Enjoying one moment at a time;Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life,and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.

May God richly bless you and remember, "We Believe!"