I learned my freshman year in Seminary, 1978, of three annual events that I could not miss.
First was the Anniversary of the Atlanta Gospel Movement at the Grace Covenant Baptist Church. It was gospel music as I had not experienced it. Among their annual guests was the Cathedral of Faith COGIC ‘Showers of Blessings Choir’. The first time I heard them sing, this choir had me pinned to my seat. They sang from the prophet Hosea in the tune of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony— “If my people, would just humble themselves, humble themselves and turn, from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven!” When you experience Church at this level there will always be a longing for… The Gospel… Movement!
Then there was Revival at Antioch Baptist Church. Pastor Cameron Alexander’s name is to be said in reverence. A very close friend and I would slip away from Central on any Sunday that Dr. Lowery was away from the pulpit and head down Northside Drive to Antioch. But each year of my three Seminary years, I attended all five nights of Caesar Clark’s annual Revival at Antioch. He was known as ‘the preacher’s preacher’. What with all the ‘Preachers of Atlanta’ sitting at the feet of Caesar Clark? Just can’t explain it.
And then there was King Week. During my student ministry years at Central, the Pastor’s wife, Evelyn Gibson Lowery founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference/ WOMEN. As a founding member, I attended her in many of the events that the SCLC/WOMEN planned and sponsored. Her vision for the ‘Drum Major Awards Banquet’ is one that lives on with greatness. I was a hostess at the first Banquet. Got ‘pushed’ by Martin Luther King, Senior as I led him to his seat. He had ‘shown up’ in the doorway of our Homiletics (preaching) class on a day that Professor Mance Jackson was away. At the Banquet, on our way to his table he bumped me (my guess to let me know he remembered me from class) and said to me “so you wanna preach, huh?”
Evelyn had also gotten the organization involved in some very important issues to include the ‘Missing and Murdered Children’s Crisis’ of Atlanta while the city was in the throes of this demonic force. Many of the mothers of these children joined SCLC/WOMEN as Evelyn’s vision began to manifest. Would take days to talk abut the work and vision of Evelyn Lowery in SCLC; but when you stroll Auburn Ave today you will see the SCLC/WOMEN’s name carved into the building indicating the leadership she took in rebuilding the SCLC organization.
SCLC sponsored the First ‘King Week’ at this time and I participated in most all of the events. Most memorable for me of the activities was the Arts Program held at Wheat Street Baptist Church on Auburn Avenue, a stone’s throw from SCLC headquarters. Stephanie Mills sang. But a young white male did the most anointed liturgical dance I have yet to witness. Dressed as a battered soldier of Jewish faith, the narration was a letter home to his mother of the casualties of war— all that he had seen and all that she had taught him in preparation for the world. He ended by saying, ‘but mother, you forgot to tell me about Jesus!”
This is also the year that Stevie Wonder did the Concert at the Omni— “They say that heaven is, ten zillion light years away… Where is your God!… And I say, it’s taking Him so long, cause we’ve got so far to come. But in my heart I can feel it… Feel His Spirit…”
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