Leadership Team


Celebrating International Women’s Day 2017

International Women’s Day took me by surprise. I was not paying attention to the preparations women all around me were making to engage in community service, provide child care and support women who would have to work on Wednesday March 8, 2017.

As a male, I acknowledge that we should all be paying attention to the women in our lives and to the awesome contributions that they are making in all areas and professions. The reality is that many times I take it for granted until somebody points out the extreme multitasking and momentous achievements that the women in my life are making daily.123_1

I look at the history of my family and remember that Jeanette A. Thomas, my grandmother was a phenomenal woman, She raised seven children in Cincinnati, Ohio after moving from File, Virginia. She set the example of educational achievement by attaining a Master’s in Education from the University of Cincinnati in 1959. She instilled this passion for education in each of her children who all achieved a Masters in different fields and three achieved doctorates. That passion and value of strong women on International Women’s Day is expressed by her granddaughter Dr. Marya l. Shegog PH.D MPH, “International Women’s Day is a day to honor the very essence of women, not merely for their accomplishments but for their existence and willingness to stand without waiver for love and passion.” 

The full expression  of this experience is not limited to my family. Virginia Sowell in Atlanta reflects and says, ”She’s not just somebody’s wife, daughter, or mother. She is someone! International Women’s Day is about bringing to the forefront women’s contributions throughout history that have been minimized. I am grateful for the strides to recognize marginalized people and that we are trying to learn more. Today we lift up women as humans, as equals, not as simply support to a man.”IMG_4001

In Maryland, my good friend Christine Kumar works faithfully in the church and reflects this way, “International women’s Day is a celebration of how our female ancestors bravely paved the way for us to be who God has called us to be. We move forward exercising our rights and building women from all walks of life up in this journey.”

God has created women not to be limited to the stereotypical narrow roles of being housekeepers, caretakers and  rearing children  but women all across the world are designed by God to be leaders, engineers, preachers, musicians,  business owners, CEOs, technology innovators, philanthropist and so much more. We all celebrate what God is doing in and through the women all around us not just today but everyday.

 

Marya L Shegog Ph.D MPH – Director of a Health programs, The Lincy Institute, School of Community Health Sciences, Editor of The Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Virginia Sowell – Director of Communications, Oak Grove United Methodist Church, Decatur GA

Christine Kumar – Business Administrator, Baltimore Metropolitan District, Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church

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God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might  become the righteousness of God.   2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)

This past Christmas season I heard about people attending “Ugly Christmas Sweater” parties. The invitation asks guests to wear a sweater they had perhaps received as a gift, but considered too ugly to wear under normal circumstances. The party’s host even awards prizes for the ugliest attire. In this day and age, most gifts we don’t like go back to the store shortly after Christmas, to be exchanged for something we will likely use. So, there’s no good reason to have a drawer full of ugly sweaters to begin with.

This Lenten season we are reminded our lives are full of spiritual “ugly sweaters” – those deeds and thoughts we know are too sinful and embarrassing to show in public. We do our best to hide them, or pretend they are not in our closet. It’s not enough to just bury them in the back of the drawer. We need a way to exchange them for something we are glad to wear.

Today’s verse captures the wonderful message of the Good News of Jesus Christ made available to each of us. In this description, we find God’s Great Exchange. In Christ, all my sin and ugliness was laid on him, and I can exchange it all for God’s own righteousness. Righteousness is a word that speaks of us having the right relationship with God. Not hiding from him or running from him, but knowing we are loved, protected and provided for. If my sinful history (and future, too) is replaced with a right relationship toward God because of what Christ did, I can live a life of peace and joy in Christ. I don’t have to bury stuff, I just exchange it by faith that God means what He says. God really intends to have me live with new clothing – a robe of righteousness that is dazzlingly beautiful in God’s sight.

So, this season realize that repentance is the act of agreeing with God that we have ugly sweaters in our closets, but God has assigned Christ the task of wearing all our ugliness and bearing God’s just wrath that must be expended against that sin. In the Great Exchange we are freely clothed in beautiful garments no one would ever dream of hiding in a closet. Display the righteousness of God in all you do, because it’s freely yours.

Prayer: Father, I thank you that Jesus was willing and able to bear my ugliness and take my place under your wrath. I thank you that because of your great love, I am now treated as one who is fully right with you. Help me to be joyful in living as your child. By the Holy Spirit, continue to show me the ugly sweaters I hide, and exchange them for Your beautiful righteousness. Let me see myself wearing your beauty, and shining with heavenly light in a dark world. Use me to help others take advantage of your Great Exchange. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Steve Burke

Jackson Chapel UMC

Frederick, MD

 

 

2014 Lenten Devotional

You can request our Lenten devotional to be sent to you daily. Email to info@infinitegracefellowship.org

6 things all leaders should solemnly swear Just as doctors take the Hippocratic oath when starting out in their careers, so corporate leaders should swear a pledge acknowledging their duties and obligations, writes Kevin Eikenberry. He suggests a pledge that includes promises to ask more questions, to acknowledge and work to understand dissenting views and to be patient with change-resistant employees. “And if you care to join me, you will be making a commitment to communicate more effectively, and lead with greater influence,” he writes. KevinEikenberry.com

http://blog.kevineikenberry.com/communication/take-this-oath-to-communicate-change-more-effectively/

There are many struggling churches in mainline denominations that aspire to Make disciples for Christ, Serve the Community and Impact the World. Often they struggle with limited finances, limited energy and few people. Efforts to reach more people and share the life changing message of Jesus Christ seem futile and the few ideas that do work seem to never provide the traction necessary to change the direction of the congregations decline.    I believe that there is something to learn from relevant success stories of congregations that have already gone through the process of revitalizing and restoring their mission. The role of the transformative, revitalizing pastor is to help the congregation discover the best practices to achieving the long term mission and vision. . As a pastoral and leadership coach here are some suggestions to accelerate the learning curve:

  1. Find multiple examples of congregations with similar demographics and a similar ministry context that have coped with equivalent challenges successfully. Learn from their mistakes, experiences and successes
  2. Find congregations that model excellence in the ministry areas that you desire to grow in even if the resources are outside of your denomination in a congregation that has no ministry context similarities.  Learn what the best practices are and let them become the standards that your strive for as you revision the ministry.
  3. Develop a step by step logic model of the reasons for the best practices and the success of the turnaround churches. Look for features that they share in common.
  4. Present these shared “success factors” as precepts, guidelines, and principles that can be implemented by all those who wish to achieve similar levels of success.
  5. Document your journey by video, journaling, pictures and recordings.
  6. Celebrate mini successes along the journey and review the ultimate goal and objectives often

B. Kevin Smalls

 

Several years ago, I accompanied my son to his new high school’s orientation and the principal began his speech with what he called non-negotiables.  One was, fighting.  The other was cheating and I don’t remember the rest of them.  I kind of like that concept.  I’ve been comforted lately by listing what my non-negotiables are as a leader and a pastor.  Here they are.

1. From time to time I would hear that “we are not being heard.”  I will listen to anyone but I will not accommodate negative, disruptive and problematic attitudes. There is a difference.

2. I will not make room for prejudice, judgementalism and religious elitism.  

3. I will not apologize for aggressively reaching those seeking shelter from the cold walk without God.  They are the priority for all of US.

4. I will not allow abuse to me or my family.  I will confront…

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For immediate release August 14, 2013

Media contact: Donna Dodson  (410) 945-8397
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FORMAN JOINS INFINITE GRACE FELLOWSHIP LEADERSHIP TEAM

Dr.  Scheherazade W. Forman has joined the leadership team of Infinite Grace Fellowship of the Baltimore-Washington Conference. Dr. Scheherazade W. Forman will begin her ministry with Infinite Grace on July 1. The church is located at 5130 Greenwich in Baltimore, on the city’s historic “40 West” corridor.

Dr. Forman, a native of Newark, NJ, was formerly co-pastor of Grace Renewed Community Church, in Baltimore, where the mission was to restore men to their families and unite the family around Christ.

During her time in ministry, Scheherazade has served in the children and youth ministries, music ministry, women’s ministry, marriage ministry and pastoral counseling.

“In 1 Peter 5:10 God promises He will strengthen and settle us. God has given me a passion for the family. My devotion to God and commitment to relationships drives me to foster restoration of families.”

Forman is married to Rev. Anthony L. Forman and they have seven children and six grandchildren. Her educational background includes a bachelor and master degree from the University of Maryland, University College and a doctorate from Morgan State University with training at the International Harvest Bible Training Center.

The Baltimore-Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church is comprised of 694 congregations with nearly 200,000 members. It is the home of Methodism in America, with the founding of the denomination at Lovely Lane Chapel in 1784.

 

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