Beverly to AACW: God will continue to call

By Allison Trussell

GREENVILLE—With a message of encouragement illustrated with personal stories, Dr. Arnetta E. Beverly, a retired member of the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church currently serving St. Stephen’s UMC in Greensboro, spoke at the South Carolina African-American Clergywomen’s Luncheon June 10.

She started by asking if her listeners remembered their call and jokingly said sometimes the call came when we were in places we shouldn’t have been! Her call came when a member of her home church asked her to be the Sunday school superintendent. For every excuse, the member had an answer.

“She put me in a place where God called me,” Beverly recalled. “For 42 years, I’ve answered the call, but I didn’t want to go in the first place.”

Calling and your role don’t stop at the church door. Leaders in the church should be leaders in their communities, she said, reminding the group that her background includes being a funeral director and a deputy with the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department.

Sometimes the call is interrupted with static, she said. But clergywomen need to remember the call comes from God not from their congregants. At one of her early appointments, she had a member who did not want a woman in the pulpit. He was vocal and insisted on calling her “Brother Pastor” instead of her name. Eventually, she won him over and he started calling her “Sister Pastor.”

Sometimes the call gets dropped. Pastors grow tired of the politics, jealousy and pettiness that can come in their ministries, but they must keep listening for the call. When the temple guards and Sadducees told John and Peter they could not teach or speak of Jesus, John said he served the king of kings. “So we keep on preaching even when we’re tired,” Beverly said. “God will continue to call.

Beverly thought retirement would be easy with nothing to do. But then, she said, conference leaders asked her to go to St. Stephens, her home church. As a mischievous child, she was constantly getting into trouble even at church, but God was calling her back there.

“Keep on preaching and serving God,” she told the women. “We need to stop taking cues from pews, trying to be who others think we are and worrying about the next appointment. Lead and serve where you are!”

Clergywomen who were recognized during Sunday night’s Service of Commissioning, Ordination, Recognition of Orders and Retirement were honored during the luncheon. Special music was provided by Heart and Soul from the Hartsville District accompanied by Cheryl Fisher.

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