Monday, July 18, 2016

Women: ‘You Were Created for More’

Women gathered around Evangelist Patricia Merriweather to receive a blessing.
(Photo by Wiley Henry)
The message was clear and unencumbered by “rhyme and rap,” which preachers sometimes invoke, said Evangelist Patricia Merriweather, when they invite parishioners to come to Christ. Merriweather, who delivered a power-packed message on July 16 at The Word Church, avoided this practice and simplified the message to hone her point.
The parishioners – the majority of them women – listened intently and responded to the evangelist’s message with their hands held high in reverence to God and their heads tilted back to welcome the Spirit in the house. When Merriweather began hitting her stride, they uttered, many times, “Amen!”
The message resonated with the parishioners, which was derived from the theme of Women’s Month – “You Were Created for More” – the church’s month-long observance centered around women seeking God and contributing to the building of God’s Kingdom.
 “We’re looking for something from the Lord. We’re looking for something in these dire times. You need a word that will convict, that will set free, that will deliver,” said Merriweather, the guest evangelist from Redeemed Fellowship Ministries Church in Holly Springs, Miss.
The church is suffering and the children are suffering, said Merriweather, a Shelby County Schools principal. She’s also the founder of A Woman of Standard Ministries, which empowers people to live a holy life according to the standards of Jesus Christ.
The church’s praise and worship team fired away on all cylinders at the onset of the women’s program and galvanized the assembly with the late Andrae Crouch’s signature song: “Bless the Lord.” They sang, “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul / And all that is within me / Bless His holy name…”
Their voices were a harmonic blend and warm-up act that segued into a spoken word piece by Iyuana Childs (“I Was Created for More”), a praise dance by Shana Schaeffer, and a riveting testimony by Min. Wanda Taylor, CEO of Ladies in Need Can Survive, Inc., a refuge for troubled women.
“It’s time for women to get excited about women. It’s time to support each other. We are living in a world where women need support,” said Paula Richardson, a member of Evangel Temple Church in South Memphis and the program facilitator.
In her heartfelt espousal, Richardson reflected on the world’s problems, issues and circumstances affecting women and children the most. “When children are confused, when mothers are confused, we have the answer,” she said.
Without prodding the audience or tipping them off, they knew full well the answer – God – and responded with a nod, a handclap, or simply uttered Amen. This was a call and response typical of the African American church.
Although women are the driving force of this month-long observance, Richardson said too many of them have been sitting down for too long. “This is a call to action. You are reporting for duty,” she said. Then a song came to mind, which she could not contain:
“Jesus I'll never forget what you done for me  / Jesus I'll never forget how you set me free / Jesus I'll never forget how you brought me out / Jesus I'll never forget no, never…”
The Rev. Aaron J. Litzsey Jr., senior pastor of The Word Church, and his wife, Lakisha, hosted the women’s program.

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