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Black Church News in Virginia

Annual Church Conference Highlights Women’s Self-Esteem Issues

By Rosaland Tyler

Associate Editor

New Journal and Guide

When Tupac Shakur wrote a book of poems titled, The Rose That Grew from Concrete, he obviously was not describing the first self-esteem workshop that Dr. Phyllis Young hosted in Virginia Beach, the year after she miraculously was healed of colon cancer in 2010.

Pointing to how the rose defies nature and pokes up through a slab of stone, Tupac wrote, “Long live the rose that grew from concrete.” In a sense, this description sums up many of the women who have attended The Queen in You Conference, which Young launched a year after she was healed of colon cancer. The two-day event offers worship services, workshops, awards and a luncheon. This year’s conference will be held Jan. 21-23, 2016 in Baltimore at the Holiday Inn, located in the Maryland Inner Harbor.

“People should come to the conference because it will ignite a passion that they did not know they had,” said the Rev. Dr. Phyllis Young, who launched her first conference in Virginia Beach, the year after she discovered she had colon cancer during a routine colonoscopy in 2010.

“Surgery was scheduled for the next week,” Young said. “They removed the tumor and said the cancer was contained in it so I did not have to have chemo.

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“But I had a supernatural experience before I had surgery,” Young added. “They circled around me in the church and began to pray for me. I felt a hand on my stomach. But no one was standing close to me. They were standing out away from me in the circle. I believe the hand of God touched my body and healed the tumor. It was a miracle.”

Does this mean the survivor’s mindset pushed Young to launch the first conference? “I believe I have sometimes been a procrastinator,” she said. “But I decided not to wait. I am amazed at what can happen when you don’t hesitate but just go on and do it.”

According to experts, the survivor’s mindset separates victims from survivors. “Hope is often the only thing between man and the abyss,” Dale Archer M.D. wrote in Psychology Today on July 31, 2013, defining the survivor’s mindset.

“Hope is an emotion that springs from the heart, not the brain,” Archer said. “Hope lays dormant until its amazing strength is beckoned, supplying a sheer belief that you will overcome, you will persevere and you will endure.”

Or as Tupac said of the survivor’s mindset in his poem, “We wouldn’t ask why a rose grew from the concrete. We would all celebrate its tenacity, we would all love its will to reach the sun, well, we are the roses, this is the concrete and these are my damaged petals, don’t ask me why, thank God, and ask me how.”

Each year Young picks a theme. “Our theme last year was Arise from The Ashes, said Young who was licensed as a pastor in 1983 and ordained in 1989. “One lady said she came to last year’s conference not knowing what to expect but it exceeded her expectations and she will never miss another conference. One lady said she was healed from problems with her leg. It was phenomenal.”

While attendance has slowly increased – that is, about 50 people attended the first conference at the Holiday Inn in Virginia Beach and about 80 people attended the 2014 conference in Long Island, N.Y.

At each conference, Young urges women to focus on how: How do you survive physical or verbal abuse? How do you open a business? How do you start a new intimate relationship? How do you increase your income? How do you remain optimistic in tough times?

“We all are queens,” Young said. “But situations in life make us suppress the queen inside of us. And we will not allow her to come forth. We are fearfully and wonderfully made; but verbal and physical abuse may make you suppress who you really are.

“What we do at the conference is we provide tools that will help women heal and realize their destiny,” Young said. “For example, say you want to open a business. Well, we want to nurture that in you because God put it in you. Say you have health problems. I want to help people rise to their full potential, to who they are in Christ. I want women who know, and those who do not know God to come.

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“I didn’t have a clue this is where God would take me,” said Young, who grew up as one of six children in Gladys, Va., on a farm outside of Lynchburg.

While she learned lessons about hope, tenacity and faith from her father, Emmett Morgan who passed in 1969 and her mother, Geneva P. Morgan who passed in 2004, only life has taught her that hardships can bloom into blessings.

For example, she is a single-parent of two children who are now adults. She worked for 28 years in human relations in the North Shore Health System before retiring in 1999. Her son Bishop David Gates became a pastor in 2005 and a bishop in 2014. He is a pastor at Miracle Assemblies in Hempstead, N.Y. He is also the president of the Hempstead NAACP and director of marketing at Emblem Health of New York, according to his church’s website. Her daughter, Dr. Jacquelyn Gates has worked in ministry for over a decade.

“I am blessed,” Young said. “I have three grandchildren ranging from 27-9. But no, I did not see any of these blessings coming when I was raising two children as a single mother in New York,” she said. “My son was always smart. When he was young I did not have to repeat things to him. So I already knew he was smart. But I did not know all of those experiences would lead me to this blessed season of my life.”

To register for the conference, please phone 687-8658 or register online at

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