By Tricia Hall
The Truth Reporter
“Women of God be Fearless and Courageous Because God is in Control,” was the theme of this year’s Women’s Day at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church. The annual celebration began with Sunday School, morning worship service concluded with refreshments for all guests. All women in attendance wore all-white attire with gold accessories.
“Greetings to all of you! It gives me great pleasure to give these words of greetings on behalf of the Women here at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church,” said Rav. James H. Willis, Sr, DMin. “I am overly excited by the fact that this is my 20th year serving as pastor here at St. Paul. I can truly say that God has blessed us over the years. I congratulate the women of St. Paul for all they have done to make this Women’s Day a great celebration.
“We are honored to have our speaker this year from Chicago, in person, Minister Tashia Small. She has been a part of the planning process from the beginning to help make this a successful Annual Day. We are making progress with the pandemic that has been before us, and we are still depending on God to deliver. The theme chosen for this year speaks volume and clarity for such a time as this. The theme, ‘Women of God be fearless and courageous because God in control,’ from Deuteronomy 31:6, and as we reflect on the scripture, it speaks of a change in leadership. Moses term as leader is almost over, so he commissions Joshua for an assignment. The message back in the Bible day, is the same as today, so the women here today at St. Paul are taking a stand to move forward and not fear, because God is in control.”
Praise and worship were led by Sister Deborah Gardner of St. Paul MBC, Vera Sander of Ebenezer MBC and Margaret Huntley of Warren AME Church. The celebration continued with a Call to Worship led by Toledo City Councilwoman Cerrsandra McPherson of Braden United Methodist Church.
“I extend war greetings to the strong, dynamic, and courageous women of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church as we celebrate Women’s Day 2023. Our world would cease to exist without women, who are breaking barriers and making history. Women who are exhibiting grace and beauty in the midst of trials and tribulations,” shared First Lady of St. Paul, Linnie Willis.
Lord’s Prayer was led by Deborah Gardner, official welcome delivered by Valerie Walston, Women’s Day Litany led by Vontyna Smith, selections by the Women’s Day choir, alter call led by Councilwoman McPherson, and also alter and offertory prayer led by Elder Jenai Hicklin of Canaan Manifested Word Church.
“To the Most High God, where heaven is your throne and the Earth is your footstool. To our pastor, Rev. James Willis, First Lady Willis, assistant pastor Rev. Stanley Clark, and Sister Pamela Clark, St. Paul family and friends. I could it all joy to once again serve as chairperson and share this commitment with Sister Daisy Fisher as co-chair. All praises to God for this day of celebration, dedication and unification of Christian women of St. Paul Baptist Church and surrounding churches of this community. We welcome you and thank you for joining us,” said Yvonne Gayle, chairperson.
Candlelight memorial service led by Fashionette Sullivan in which Mother Juanita Brown, Mother Maureen Curl, Sister Mary Chandler, Sister Cheryl Fox, Sister Toyce Cherry, Mother Sara Peoples, and Sister Cynthia Cooper were honored by lighting of candles by their family members and each received a white rose.
Tribute to Unsung Shero shared by Celina and Aufwiedershen Winfield, scripture by Kaitlyn Diggins, introduction of the speaker by Elaine Vonner, and solo sang by Valecia Nurruddin of Mt. Nebo Baptist Church.
“Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am extremely humbled and honored to serve as the Women’s Day 2023 co-chair alongside our awesome chairperson, Sister. Yvonne Gayle. I thank Rev. James Willis. with a sincere heart for his leadership and continued support of the women of St. Paul MBC. I greatly appreciate my amazing sisters in Christ of St. Paul MBC who so willingly give of their time and God given talents year after year,” said Daisy Fisher, co-chair.
The guest speaker was Minister Tashia Small. Minister Small is a speaker and accredited Behavioral SuperPowers Coach. She grew up attending church with her aunt in Saginaw, Michigan, accepted Jesus as her savior in her 30s and took on leadership roles within the church including lead greeter, leader of the Evangelistic team, lead facilitator of her women’s Bible study, taught women’ Bible study and adult Sunday school classes.
Small spent her career caring for veterans at the VA Medical Center as a registered nurse for 30 years and, upon her retirement, she began attending Pastor Bill Winston’s Living Word Schools of Ministry in September 2019 and graduated in 2020 with high honors. Minister Small resides in North Carolina with her husband of 32 years, she has three adult children and eight grandchildren.
“So good to have you in the sanctuary, even if you’re joining us via Facebook Live. I’m talking to the ladies today but the men can ease drop if they want to. I want to ask you a question, has God given you a dream or promise that you felt was for someone else, that you were the wrong person? Think about it. Write it down and really think about it. I want you to walk out today with the strength and courage to trust in God and do his will, because that was me at one point,” shared Minister Small.
The service concluded with Rev. Willis leading the invitation to discipleship, Debbie Dean acknowledging all visitors and sharing announcements, Yvonne Gayle delivered closing remarks and Rev. Willis delivered closing remarks and closed the service with a benediction.
Historic St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church is located at 1502 N. Detroit Street in Toledo under the leadership of Rev. Willis Sr. The chairperson is Yvonne Gayle, co-chairperson Daisy Fisher; program committee members: Sharonda Diggins, and Valerie Walston, co-chair, Katie Davis, Barbara Ifeduba, Mary Reed, Elaine Vonner, Yvonne Gayle, Daisy Fisher and First Lady Linnie Willis; Publicity Committee: J’Vann Winfield, Fashionette Sullivan, and Debbie Dean; Finance Committee: Celina Winfield, Carol Adams, Lorette Quinn, Elizabeth Flournoy, and Amanda Woods; Decoration Committee: Beverly Beasley, Katie Davis, Barbara Ifeduba, and Elaine Vonner; Devotion and Women’s Choir Committee: Deborah Gardner, Marvine Brown, and Dorothy McDougal; Music Ministry Committee: Deborah Gardner, Mike Odum, John Richardson, and Richard Ellis; Nurses Committee was Mary Liggins, Ushers Committee was Aufwiedershen Winfield and Women’s Day Book Committee was Veronica Faulkner.