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My Truth: Faith and Leadership

By Cheryl Smith

Don’t you just love seeing women in positions of power, influence and leadership? In answering her question recently during the 2019 Miss Universe Pageant, Miss South Africa Zozibini Tunzi of Eastern Cape talked about women in leadership. The very favorable response to her statement was encouraging and impressive.

She ended up victorious, winning the title of Miss Universe! Now, too often, women are discouraged; sometimes we discourage ourselves from pursuing leadership roles because we are too young, too old, too big, too small, uneducated, over-educated, we don’t have the look, and I could go on and on. Sadly, some of us think that only men should hold certain positions of leadership.

I love seeing the responses I get from women, young ladies, and girls; when I compliment them. Maybe if we affirmed one another more the world would be a much better place. Someone said, if women were running the world, we’d have fewer wars. Someone also said, if the woman of the house is not happy, nary a soul in the house will be either!

I’ve seen, on numerous occasions, the marginalization of women. If we are absolutely truthful; there were men AND WOMEN who didn’t have a legitimate reason for not voting for Hillary Clinton for President of the U.S. Sadly, deep in their hearts, they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a woman. There are still those who want to keep women out of the boardrooms, pulpits, locker rooms, and yes, the White House. Women deserve leadership roles.

We don’t want to hear about “flaws,” because that hasn’t stopped men from serving. Women have shown up and shown out, time and time again. Women have always been the sounding board and the voice of reason. I am so grateful to have so many dynamic women who, some I have never met, but know their works, paved the way for me.

Which brings me to my truth. This upcoming weekend Laverne Whitehead Reed will be installed as the senior pastor at Warren Avenue Christian Church in Dallas, TX. I’m excited for her, the church, and the community for starters because she clearly has taken the necessary steps for this opportunity, for a time such as this. In her words, she is “grateful that God has given me this opportunity to serve.” Actually she has lived a life of service, living “God’s Plan versus Reed’s Plan.”

She’s been a nurse, an educator and eventually, she became a Chaplain, before serving in various clergy positions at hospitals and churches. Currently serving as Southwest Regional Chaplain for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Dr. Reed has a number of firsts in her portfolio, including becoming the first African Methodist Episcopal Board Certified Chaplain (BCC) in the state of Texas by the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC), first African American to serve as Secretary of the Brite Divinity School Student Government, and first professional female and African American Chaplain at Baylor Carrollton Medical Center where she was responsible for the development of the Pastoral Care Department.

Hailing from Memphis, TN, Dr. Reed actually marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Once she moved to Texas she earned an Associate of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Divinity and Doctorate of Ministry degrees. Add a Diploma of Vocational Nursing and completing further studies at The Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, GA; clearly she was building a solid foundation. A past president of the Community Ministers’ Fellowship, the Texas Christian University alum said you must “always be open and available to what God has planned for you.”

She has served as Interim Pastor of Romine Avenue Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). A retired Healthcare Chaplain and retired Ordained Itinerant Elder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; she has also served as Minister of Counseling and Life Support at Smith Chapel AME Church, Dallas. Her Pastoral appointments included Dean of Richard Allen Chapel at Paul Quinn College and Senior Pastor of St. James A.M.E. Church, Denton, TX, the oldest African American congregation in Denton County.

She is a member of several professional and civic organizations. A certified crisis intervention counselor, she is a life member of the NAACP and the immediate past Texas/New Mexico State Chaplain for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. It is important to note that as she prepares for her installation and looks forward to the Church celebrating 150 years in existence; Dr. Reed realizes that Church is not just the building, it’s a place where they will address the whole individual and have a presence throughout the community.

It’s an exciting time as she invites everyone to come out for the new beginnings and new works as Warren Avenue Christian Church looks at the needs of the people and the community. Pastoral Installation Celebration: December 14, 2019, at 7:08 pm, a Pre-Installation Celebratory Musical with Mrs. Gladys Facen, Minister of Music and guest musician Dr. Glenn Nixon. December 15, 2019, at 10:30 am Morning Service with Rev. Dr. Marshall Hobbs Sr. and 3:08 pm Afternoon Service with Rev. Dr. Ouida E. Lee. Come out and see what women do when given the opportunity!

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