Tuesday, March 28, 2017


Whether you support him or not, one of the most poignant charges former President Barack Obama issued in his farewell address was this: “… whether you’re young or young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your President … I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.” Each of us has the ability and capacity to make a difference in our lives and the lives of others, if we choose to do so. It’s a choice; a conscious decision and, when you pray about it, it may become your assignment.

We are living in challenging times and, in many ways, it appears our country is going backwards instead of forward. The marches and protests of the 60s and 70s may soon become critical to fostering change and making a difference. Rather than sitting back and hoping things turn out alright, we may be called upon to get up, get out and make our voices heard – in the streets and at the polls. When our children’s education and their future are at stake, we can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines and hope for the best, or pray for someone to come along, save the day and change things. When the gains that we have made continue to be eroded or undermined, we have a responsibility to speak up and make our voices heard, if not individually, collectively, peacefully and where it matters – at the polls and with our purchasing power.

Each of us has the power to make a difference – economically, socially and spiritually. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

”Peace and power.

© Dr. Melvin O. Marriner,
Grove Church
March 2017

The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities will host its 53rd presentation of the humanitarian awards on Thursday, March 30, 2017, at the Westin Virginia Beach Town Center. The awards celebration honors individuals and organizations for making significant humanitarian contributions to the South Hampton Roads community.

The 2017 Tidewater Humanitarian Awards Recipients are Norfolk Mayor Kenneth C. Alexander with more than two decades in public service; Kim S. Fink, community activist and leader; Caroline W. McCartney, a top selling Realtor; James K. Spore, first president and chief executive officer of Reinvent Hampton Roads, following 24 years of service as city manager of the City of Virginia Beach; Craig S. Wansink, Professor of Religious Studies, Virginia Wesleyan Colege.

The 2016 Tidewater Distinguished Merit Award Recipient is the The Hands United Building Bridges (HUBB) whose purpose s to connect religious leaders in Hampton Roads for the common purpose of strengthening our diverse community, searching for a common ground through building bridges that connect humanity. HUBB has involved nearly 60 faith leaders from around the area in dialogues, as well as some leaders of faith-based organizations and members of law enforcement. They meet every four to six weeks and have discussed topics ranging from education to community policing and from understanding Islam to approaches to poverty. This organization is led by Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz and Dr. Antipas Harris.

The Humanitarian Awards are presented annually in communities across the state by the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. Begun in Tidewater in 1965, when the organization was part of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Humanitarian Awards honor individuals and organizations who have demonstrated a commitment to the promotion of respect and understanding among people of diverse racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.

The 2017 VCIC Tidewater Humanitarian Awards dinner is being chaired by Charles V. McPhillips, partner with Kaufman & Canoles, P.C.

For 82 years, the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities has been addressing prejudices, in all forms in order to improve academic achievement, increase workplace productivity, and enhance local trust. Today through workshops, retreats, and customized programs, VCIC works with schools, businesses, and communities to achieve success through inclusion.
For more information about the organization, go to www.inclusiveVA.org.

She was Aaron’s wife and sister-in-law to Moses and Miriam. Comments are limited about Elisheba in the Bible, but she was probably well known to the Israelites as wife of Aaron; the high priest. She was the mother of four sons after marrying Aaron. Leviticus 10:1-2 describes the death of her first two sons. Instead of following God’s instructions in worship, they made an unauthorized incense offering. God punished them and they were consumed by fire. It is a known fact that soon after the incident, God warned Aaron and his sons not to drink before worship (Leviticus 10:8-11). Scholars of biblical studies wonder if they were drunk at that time when worship rituals were really taken seriously by all Israelites.

The women of the Bible studied in several categories. We know about named, unnamed, wives, daughters, daughters-in-law, mothers, widows and other women. We are all very important to God. Whether we as women are mentioned in books, have been award winners or have been known worldwide, God cares, His son died for us and therefore we have not been forgotten by Him! Since we are guided by our Creator to do His will because we have a special connection to Him. We are to reach out to others and to help them understand God’s role in their lives.

In our time, we as Christian mothers may faithfully witness to our children. Sometimes we can help them and often we are unable to get their attention. With this family, God provided for us a positive role model in Elisheba, as a believing mother, with great blessings. Eleazar, Elisheba’s third son, honored his parents’ faith by following in their footsteps. He became the head of the Levites and then became a high priest in Aaron’s place. What is the value of godly role models? God may have put certain people in places of authority to have helped Moses and Aaron as well as the assistance we need today. The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Get Aaron and his son Eleazar and take them up Mount Hor. Remove Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar, for Aaron will be gathered to his people; he will die there” (Numbers 20:23-26). With childhood to adult observations of Moses and Aaron before helping Joshua with whom he was paired to lead the Israelites into the promised land. As a trusted advisor, Eleazar, probably supervised everything in the tabernacle. We, as modern-day believers, can continue to ask God to point out helpers, advisors and valuable role-models to help us fulfill His will in our lives. God puts people in our lives to help prepare us for His work. We can also ask God to help us persevere. Thank Him for His compassion and everlasting love, forgiveness and patience with wisdom to share helpful information with others.

All women of God want to be proud mothers, but if that is not possible we can be role models to children in the family and in our communities and add on foreign mission sponsorships. Since we continue to look to God, who is always in control, we can follow Elisheba’s example and be proud of His unexpected positive blessings of parenthood!

Mrs. Gladys R. McElmore, a resident of Norfolk’s Middle Town Arch Community, is a New Journal and Guide Freelance Contributor on religion. She is a native of Essex County, Va.


I. Hosanna’s Out! Crucify In!
Garments spread in the way! Gone!
Palm branches strew in the way! Gone!
The ride into Jerusalem! Ended!
The Temple purified! The Fig tree cursed!
The Olivet Discourse, Parables, Taught!
The Last Passover eaten! The Lord’s Supper Instituted.

II. Upper Room, Last Supper, Feet-washing Maunday Thursday.
Troubling, Agonizing, Gethsemane Maunday Thursday.
Plotting, Betraying, Seizing Maunday Thursday.
Denying, Condemning, Arraignment Thursday.
Six Trials, 18 Hours, Judgment Halls, Thursday.

III. The Year of the Redeemed is now come.
The 70 weeks Determined are now accomplished. (Dan. 9:24)
Transgression Must be Met.
Reconciliation Must Be Made.
Jesus the Messiah King Must Be Cut off. (Dan. 9:26)
Salvation’s Plan is Finished. Tetelestai.
The “New Mandatum” Must Be Ushered In.
(John 13:34)(John 15:12-13)

Jesus’ New Mandatum

The term “Maundy” is derived from the Latin “mandatum” meaning mandate. Mandate is defined as commandment. This is where we get the term Maundy Thursday or New Commandment Thursday. On Maundy Thursday Before The Cross, Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment or mandatum that fulfilled the Ten Commandments given to Moses by Jehovah God. Jesus said:
“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”
(John 13:34)

And again Jesus said:
“This is my commandment that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you.”
(John 15:12-14)

Jesus strikes a hard bargain. He challenges us to friendship by obeying His commandment to love as He loves us. This type of love is sacrificial love. He pushes us beyond all types of love known to mortal man: maternal, paternal and fraternal love; eros, platonic, familial and agape love.

To love others as Jesus has loved us is walking through the valley of the shadow of death love. It’s going to the cross love. Jesus’ love is divine sacrificial, unconditional love. Jesus is God. Jesus, Father God and the Holy Spirit are one God. “Hear O Israel The Lord Our God is one Lord.”(Deut. 6:4)

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Jn 3:16)

“We love Him because He first loved us.” (1st Jn 4:19) There exists a tremendous difference between The Ten Commandments of Moses and The New Commandment or Mandate of Jesus Christ. Moses Law demands love (“Thou Shalt love …”). Jesus’ Commandment is love, creates love and exudes love.

Loving others as Jesus Loves us is to drink of Jesus’ “cup.” The “cup” is interpreted by Jesus as the symbol of His sacrificial love – death on the cross when His Holy Soul was made a sin-offering for our sinful souls and bodies. Jesus asks His disciples this question: “Are ye able to drink of the “cup” that I shall drink of…?” Jesus answers His own question. “Ye shall indeed drink of my “cup …”
(Matt.. 20: 22-23)

To Be Continued….

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The Reverend Dr. Rebecca R. Rivka, LPC, is former School Psychologist, Portsmouth and Norfolk Public Schools; (ret.) Professor of Psychology, Norfolk State University; (ret.) Licensed Professional Counselor, Commonwealth of Virginia; Local Elder, The Historic Saint John’s AME Church, Norfolk, VA. The Reverend John D. Burton, Senior Pastor. Saint John AMEC is the Mother Church of African Methodism in Virginia.

Each of us has the power to make in difference in our life and the lives of others. We also have a responsibility to pay in forward. The manner in which we decide to pay it forward may vary. Some of us don’t have the time or resources to make a huge or time-consuming difference, but we can support, encourage and pray for those that do.
A national mentoring organization (www.mentoring.org) reports that young adults who were at-risk for falling off track, but had a mentor are:

• 55 percent more likely to enroll in college
• 78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly
• 90 percent are interested in becoming mentors
• 130 percent more likely to hold leadership positions.

Most of us who are positive and productive contributors to society can name at least ONE individual who made a significant difference in our lives – who mentored, encouraged, supported or prayed for us. Perhaps – if it wasn’t our parents – it was a neighbor, a sibling, a favorite aunt, uncle, teacher, counselor, or coach. We owe it to those individuals to pay it forward. So how are you making a difference in someone’s life?

It may not be your God-given assignment or purpose to become well known or famous for your contribution, but I encourage you to seek God to find out what your assignment is and pursue it. Each of us has one. If we can’t be there in person for someone, perhaps our assignment is to support and encourage those who can, give resources to a cause or agency, or donate equipment. Only YOU know what you can do to make a difference and, if you are unsure, ASK God! Seeking a response or confirmation from Him may not come by whispering a quick prayer every now and then; it may require fervent prayer. It may also require you to spend more time with God so that when He speaks, you recognize that it is His voice and not you setting your own agenda.

”Peace and power.
© Dr. Melvin O. Marriner,
Grove Church
March 2017

We may see ourselves in parables, but greater thoughts help us to know who God is! We also learn more about His goodness and mercy. These stories can become mirrors in which self-recognition may become self-understanding. The heart and mind of God reveal who we are and help us to know more about Him. Read the parables in the Gospels of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Can encouragement come to us as we read parables? We soon learn that these life examples are not new. In them we meet ourselves with God’s assistance. Sometimes the Lord used parables as veils to hide certain truths when responses to Him indicated that they were under divine judgments. Review Matthew 13 as Jesus clearly explains Himself in verses 10-13. Here the disciples asked Jesus why did He speak in parables. A partial quote tells us in verse 13: “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” Jesus explains how the prophet Isaiah fulfilled the same teaching in Matthew 13:14-17. As we read and learn, we become aware of exposures of conditions in our world that may also offer divine remedies with words of encouragement for our spiritual growth.

With natural ability to understand these stories we need extensive imaginations to feel that we are living in first century times and that we are sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to these real life examples as they are given orally! Can familiarity breed complacency? Do we tend to think that we know the answers to many of life’s problems?

We may think we know these parables, but we may always read them carefully. So, now, as we pretend to sit again at the feet of Jesus to listen to His wonderful words of life, we must try to listen as though we are doing it for the first time! Again, using flashback thoughts, we must leave our twenty-first century western world of technology and think of first-century Palestine, the Jewish villages and feel the dust of the Galilean roads. Undoubtedly as we enter that world, these stories will come alive in our hearts and minds like emerging fresh air!

Parables have never been isolated stories. They were told to answer a question or to address a particular situation. We also need background information to completely understand what was being taught. Isaiah 6:9-10 give us confidence in Matthew 13 because the fulfillment is repeated information that can be easily understood.
May we obtain grace from God with much passion for His glory and also His love which endures forever!

Mrs. Gladys R. McElmore, a resident of Norfolk’s Middle Town Arch Community, is a New Journal and Guide Freelance Contributor on religion. She is a native of Essex County, Va.

Pat Turner
Dorothy Vaughan in her twenties.

Family Light Baptist Church in Newport News recently honored two women in history for their accomplishments.

Dorothy Vaughan, whose story as a human computer during the early days of NASA was told in the book “Hidden Figures” and the block buster movie by the same name was one.

The second was Patricia Turner, one of 17 Black students in Norfolk who integrated the city’s public white high schools in 1958.

Kenneth Vaughn Jr., thanked the church for portraying his grandmother.  Meanwhile, Vaughn’s granddaughter Michelle Vaughan-Webb said, “Our grandmother died early, but she raised six children on a single income.”

The grandchildren were also quick to point out a couple of inaccuracies in the movie: Their grandmother never stole a library book, and she didn’t fix cars.

“I don’t want you thinking my grandma stole anything,” Kenneth Vaughan Jr. said.

When Turner addressed the crowd and told the story of her integration experience, she encouraged the children in the audience to pay attention and realize how difficult it was for Black students to receive an education.

“They spat in my face, pushed me down the steps, jabbed me with pencils and took away my food,” she said. “But that didn’t hurt.”

Turner remembered in her neighborhood, she was shunned because she was seen as a traitor for choosing to attend a mostly white school. But she persevered and continued going to classes because she knew how important it was to challenge notions of separate but equal. She went on to graduate from Norview High School and eventually found a career in schools, continuing the effort for equality in education.

She said she was recently asked if she would endure those challenges again, she responded, “For the children of today, I’d do it again, again, again.”

“I have one life and one chance to make it count for something… My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can, with whatever I have to try to make a difference.” Former President Jimmy Carter

Complaining is easy, but deciding to do something to make a difference can be difficult, timely, costly and even overwhelming. In our busy and sometimes chaotic lives, we have a tendency to play ‘Monday morning quarterback.’ We point fingers and talk about what ‘would’ve’, could’ve, should’ve been done, but only a few of us lift a hand to make a difference.

We need only look at the recent (and, for some, painful) Presidential election as a case in point. The United States Elections Project reports that of the 231,556,622 Americans eligible to vote, some 40 percent did not exercise this right and privilege. And, without giving a history lesson on the Electoral College process, it operates on a ‘winner take all premise.” The mismatch numbers between the electoral and popular votes came about when Trump won several large states (e.g., Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) by very narrow margins, gaining all their electoral votes in the process, even as Clinton claimed other large states ( e.g., California, Illinois and New York) by much wider margins. Trump’s share of the popular vote, in fact, was the seventh smallest winning percentage since 1828.

That said, we can and should make a difference as we look to the future, not just on the political front, but also in our neighborhoods – our backyard – and in our churches. For example, the media reports that since the beginning of the year, more than 250 homicides have occurred in Chicago. This is a daunting reality for any community. It is also a problem that can’t be fixed with a band-aid or by sending in federal troops. Black-on-Black crime and disregard for human life is a systematic problem. It didn’t happen overnight and it won’t be solved overnight. However, if one person would take one other person under his or her wings, talk with individual, spend time with that person, it can change one life.

”Peace and power.

© Dr. Melvin O. Marriner,
Grove Church
March 2017

“Be careful what you wish for – it just might come true!” is a saying most of us have grown up with. It comes with no guarantee or assurance that what we ask for is what we will get. In fact, according to some, it may be the exact opposite and result in problems.

Wishing is imagining something in our minds that we want to come true – believing that our lives will be better or filled with happiness or joy or riches. It is wanting our lives to be more fulfilling or better or happier without our having to do anything or making any effort or changes.

But wishing is different from hoping – especially the hope that believers have in God. We can have unflinching and unwavering hope in God because He has done everything He has ever said He would do. There is no room for any doubt in Him or any of His promises. They are well documented and are a testimony to the fact that God is faithful and can be trusted to keep His Word.

God’s faithfulness, the psalmist reminds us, is so predictable that it has become “a law in Israel.” And this testimony of God’s faithfulness is to be passed on by fathers to their children so they put their hope in God and “never forget His deeds.”

God wants fathers to teach their children that hope does not come from politicians or policies. Nor does He want fathers to teach their children that they are to place their hope in acquiring wealth or worldly goods. And He does not want them to teach their children to place their hope in the knowledge or skills or talents they possess.

Visit us at: SowerMinistries.org

Rev. Brenda Boone Productions & Higher Praise Community Choir of Hampton Roads held its annual Black History Gospel Praise Celebration Concert Sunday (Feb 26) at the Village Church in Portsmouth.

The concert featured performances by Gospel Vocalist Geri Davis, Rev. Brenda Boone & Higher Praise Community Choir, The Gospel Travelers of Garysburg, NC, Danny Hill & Group Determination, Van Jones & King David’s Harp, Elder Ronald Harper & the Harmonizing Echoes, and The Word Singers.

The concert’s headliners were Frankie Davis & the Mighty Stars and Rev. Luther Barnes & the Sunset Jubilaires of Rocky Mount, NC.

By Randy Singleton
Community Affairs Correspondent

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