Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church is the host church for the Philadelphia Annual Conference, a milestone accomplishment in that it’s the 196th Session. The conference theme, “Reach, Reclaim, Engage, Empower” (Luke 10:1) — the conference is scheduled to run from May 23–27, 2012, at Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, 419 South 6th Street, Philadelphia, Pa.
Men and women from across Pennsylvania, and as far as California and international locations, including Bermuda, have converged in Philly to celebrate the 196th Conference Session. “I’m just praying that the Lord will bless us real good,” shared Rev. Edward M. Bailey, Lancaster, Pa. A native New Yorker, he now shepherds a Bethel AME Church in Lancaster. “I’m an African Methodist, and there’s nothing like an AME conference … the singing, the preaching, the worship experience is outstanding,” shared Bailey. He’s also very hopeful that the conference goes well because it’s the last conference for Bishop Richard Franklin Norris, the presiding bishop and Episcopal leader.
“I’m been a member of Mother Bethel since 1995,” shared Rev. Lisa R. Cross, an ordained elder at Mother Bethel AME. Cross continued in expressing her job about the conference, “This is a great conference, and my expectation is that the new vision that is being planted throughout all the churches will be instilled in the leadership (represented) here. It’s wonderful to be here at the Mother church because our heritage means more to me now than ever before; if we don’t tell the story, who’s going to tell it?” Cross is responsible for Congregational Care services.
Delores Lyons is the operations manager for Mother Bethel AME Church, and the general chair for the Philadelphia Annual Conference. According to Lyons, she hopes that the visiting conference attendees will experience, “Joy, joy, joy!” She’s been a member of Mother Bethel for over 25 years, and her expectation for the conference is for “everyone (to walk) away satisfied, satisfied, having been filled with the Spirit and renewed to go forward to evangelize for Christ.”
Rev. Dr. Mark Tyler, senior pastor of Mother Bethel AME Church, shared this about the 196th conference, “Well, this is a bit overwhelming, obviously, but it is a great honor to be standing in the historic steps of Richard and Sarah Allen (the church founders). To think, 196 years ago, the AME Church began holding annual conferences; the first was in Baltimore; a year later, it was in Philadelphia. So, we’re the second oldest annual conference in the entire world — and now, there are annual conferences held on five continents.”
For more information about the conference, or Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, call 215-925-0616.