January - July 2020

Congratulatory Announcements

**Bishop Frederick C. James (Retired) &  Episcopal Supervisor T.G. James to Commemorate  75th Wedding Anniversary December 30, 2019

Retired Bishop Frederick Calhoun James, the Ninety-Third Elected and Consecrated Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal and Dr. Theressa Gregg James, Episcopal Supervisor Retired, will commemorate their Seventy-Fifth Wedding Anniversary, December 30, 2019. They were married on December 30, 1944.

Happy 75th Wedding Anniversary!!!

Wedding Anniversary congratulatory messages can be emailed to: 

BishopFCJ@aol.com or BISHOPFREDCJAMES@aol.com
Or mailed to:
Bishop and Mrs. F.C. James
2421 Lang Street
Columbia, SC 29204
Phone: 803-256-8756

Or mailed to: 

Office of Bishop Frederick C. James
3700 Forest Drive #420
Columbia, SC 29204
(803) 787-8201
(803) 787-8215 – FAX


**Retired Senior Episcopal Leaders, Bishop Philip Robert Cousin and Episcopal Supervisor Dr. Margaret Joan Cousin commemorate 65th Wedding Anniversary

Please join us as we celebrate Retired Senior Episcopal Leaders, Bishop Philip Robert Cousin and Episcopal Supervisor Dr. Margaret Joan Cousin as they commemorate their 65th Wedding Anniversary! They were married December 27, 1954. They will celebrate surrounded by family.

Happy 65th Wedding Anniversary Bishop and Supervisor Cousin!

For expressions of love:

Bishop Philip Robert Cousin

Dr. M. Joan Cousin

1322 Rosemary Drive
Bolingbrook, Illinois


Attorney Derek E. Bruce, Managerial Shareholder, Orlando Office, Gunster Law was selected by Best Lawyers in America 2020 in his practice area of Government Affairs/Lobbyist.


 Attorney Derek E. Bruce, Managerial Shareholder, Orlando Office, Gunster Law was selected by Best Lawyers in America 2020 in his practice area of Government Affairs/Lobbyist. He was one of seventy-seven attorneys, ranging in a variety of practice areas at the Gunster Law Firm for Business, to be honored.

The Best Lawyers in America was first published in 1983. Since then, the same tried and tested peer review process has been used consistently for more than thirty years in the selection process. 

The core mission of Best Lawyers in America is to highlight the top legal talent in America. 2018 was Attorney Bruce’s inaugural year to be honored as a Best Lawyer in America.

With nearly twenty years of practice, he has developed experience in numerous areas of the law, ranging from the representation of clients in complex business litigation and property tax disputes, to the negotiation of large real estate transactions and the resolution of sensitive land use issues. 

Today, he primarily represents clients before state and local governments throughout the state of Florida on land use, procurement/regulatory issues and hospitality and leisure.

Before joining Gunster, Derek led the statewide governmental affairs team for one of Florida’s most recognizable entities and Central Florida’s largest employer. In that capacity, he developed relationships with some of the state’s most influential decision makers in government. Derek is dedicated to accomplishing his clients’ goals by working effectively with government officials and their staffs. His experience in dealing with elected officials on all levels, helps him to provide clients with a comprehensive understanding of how governments operate. 

At the local level, Attorney Bruce previously served on the Orange County Board of Zoning Adjustment and the Orange County Planning and Zoning Commission. While serving in these capacities, Derek became familiar with Central Florida’s development rules by not only applying the requirements of Orange County’s code on a daily basis to cases that came before his boards, but also by familiarizing himself with regulations in neighboring jurisdictions and municipalities in order to understand how those regulations interact to advance a regional approach to development. Having litigated multiple cases to favorable verdicts early in his career, Derek has the experience and skill necessary to take his clients’ cases before administrative or judicial tribunals if necessary.

 For example, he was named special counsel to the City of Eustis in 2014 to defend the City against a far reaching challenge to growth-friendly changes to its land use code and, as a result of Derek’s aggressive litigation approach, the challenge ended up being dismissed in its entirety.

A Florida native, Derek has lived in Orlando since the age of seven and is passionate about the community he calls “home.” He has served on the boards of numerous statewide and local community organizations, including Leadership Florida, the Central Florida Foundation, the African-American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida, American Kidney Foundation and the Randy Roberts Foundation, to name only a few. He also has had the privilege of serving as president of the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida, chair of Business Force and chairman of the Orange County Redistricting Advisory Committee. Most recently he served on the Transition Team for the first African American to be elected Mayor of Orange County.

A devoted Gator fan, Derek holds graduate degrees from the University of Florida in broadcast journalism, law and business administration. He currently sits on the University of Florida’s Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Upon joining Gunster in 2013 as one of the founding shareholders of its Orlando office, Derek’s leadership capabilities were quickly recognized. He was asked to serve as co-chair of the firm’s Diversity Committee in 2014 and has remained in that capacity since.

Attorney Bruce is the youngest son of the late Dr. Yale Benjamin Bruce, Sr. who served the Connectional Church as Director, Department of Worship and Evangelism, 1985-1992 and Gloria Sykes Bruce, now residing part-time in the Second Episcopal District and a member of Mt. Pisgah AME Church, Columbia, MD.

His siblings are Clifton Bruce, Architect, MLM Architects, Orlando.

Yolanda Bruce Nash, Attorney, Housing and Urban Development, Washington, D.C. and resides in Upper Marlboro, MD.

Words of support or congratulations can be expressed via email.

 dbruce@gunster.com       brucegs@bellsouth.net

Orlando Office - 407.406.5234  Tallahassee Office - 850.521.1980


*Congratulations to Rev. Jonathan C. Augustine for having his groundbreaking research on the AME Church, "And When Does the Black Church Get Political?

Congratulations to Rev. Jonathan C. Augustine, senior pastor of St. Joseph AME Church (Durham, NC) for having his groundbreaking research on the AME Church, "And When Does the Black Church Get Political? Responding in the Era of Trump and Making the Black Church Great Again, published in the Hastings Race & Poverty Law Journal.


A former law professor, Pastor Augustine is a graduate of Howard University, Tulane University Law School, and United Theological Seminary. He is completing his dissertation and expects to earn his doctorate from Duke University in May 2020.

The Rev. Jonathan C. Augustine, JD, MDiv.

31st Pastor, St. Joseph AME Church

National Chaplain, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. 





 *Bishop Frederick Calhoun James, Retired, the Ninety-Third Elected and Consecrated Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church celebrates his Ninety-Eighth Birthday, Tuesday,  April 7, 2020

Ecumenical theologian, advocate for fair and decent housing, proponent of civil rights, political leader and public servant are only a few of the characteristics of Bishop Frederick Calhoun James.

Bishop Frederick Calhoun James was born on April 7, 1922 in Prosperity, South Carolina, the son of Edward and Rosa Lee James. He graduated from Drayton Street High School, Newberry, South Carolina, and earned his B.A. degree in History/English from Allen University (1943), and his Master of Divinity degree from Howard University School of Religion (1947). He also studied at Union Theological Seminary in New York. He married Theressa Gregg, December 30, 1944.

In 1972, he was elected to the AME Bishopric and was assigned as the Presiding Bishop of the AME Church in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia, and Mozambique. Headquartered in Cape Town, South Africa, he established schools, a publishing house, churches, and other institutions. Bishop James later was assigned bishop in Arkansas and Oklahoma (1976). He formed a lifelong friendship with then Attorney Bill Clinton. In 1984, he was assigned to the 7th Episcopal District, State of South Carolina. In each of these positions, he built housing projects, strengthened schools and led two colleges to full accreditation; Shorter College, N. Little Rock, Arkansas in 1981 and Allen University, Columbia, South Carolina in 1992. In 1992, Bishop James was assigned Ecumenical Bishop and Chaplaincy Endorsement Officer of the African Methodist Episcopal Church International. In 1993, he was given major fiscal and reconciliation duties as Bishop of the Second Episcopal District (Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and North Carolina) of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and he stabilized the District. In 1994, he was selected by President Clinton as an official member of the delegation to attend the inauguration of South African President Nelson Mandela, and in 1998 he was again chosen to accompany President and Mrs. Clinton on an official visit to South Africa.

Bishop James is a former member of the White House Advisory Board on Historical Black Colleges and Universities, the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Board on Religious Freedom, and National Vice President of the Interfaith Alliance. A life member of the NAACP, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and a 33-degree Mason, he was inducted into the South Carolina Black Hall of Fame (1991) and the Columbia Housing Authority Wall of Fame (1994). In January of 2003, Bishop James was awarded the state’s highest honor, The Order of the Palmetto, for his significant contributions to South Carolina
He retired from active duty in 1996 and he and Dr. Theressa Gregg James, Episcopal Supervisor, retired, returned to live at their home in Columbia, South Carolina.
Bishop Frederick Calhoun James’ motto: “Leadership, Life, Lift and Light; the way forward is Faith in the Lord Christ Jesus Forever.”

Birthday Greetings can be emailed to:

Email: BishopFCJ@aol.com (Office Email)
BISHOPFREDCJAMES@aol.com (Office Email)

*General Officer's Family Congratulatory Announcement-Chaplain Captain Dianna Nicole Watkins-Dickerson earned Ph.D Degree

Chaplain Captain Dianna Nicole Watkins-Dickerson earned her Ph.D. from the Department of Communication and Film at University of Memphis after successfully defending her dissertation on April 6, 2020. She wrote a seminal study titled “’Daring to be Herself’: Womanist Rhetorical Theory and Black Women’s Presidential Campaign Announcement Speeches.” Dr. Watkins-Dickerson, who earned the B.A. from Spelman College and the M.Div. from Vanderbilt University, is a chaplain in the United States Air Force and a member of the ministerial staff at St. James AME Church in Memphis, Tennessee. She is married to Dr. Dennis C. Dickerson, Jr., Ed.D., a Latin teacher at Christian Brothers High School in Memphis, and they are the parents of Dennis C. Dickerson III. She is the daughter of Ms. Jerrie Watkins and the daughter-in-law of Mrs. Mary A. E. Dickerson and Retired General Officer Dennis C. Dickerson, Sr., Ph.D.

Communications may be emailed to diannanicolewatkins@yahoo.com


*Faith in a Time of Fear | Louisiana Public Broadcasting

Dr. Herman O. Kelly, Jr. Pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Baton Rouge, Louisiana was interviewed regarding local and connectional Church response to the Coronavirus.  He is an adjunct Instructor at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and The Chair of The Board of Examiners, Eighth Episcopal District

Link below:

Congratulatory messages can be emailed to: spidermh7@yahoo.com

***Connectional Officer's Family Announcement - Bethany Strong, MD, recently passed Board Certification Exams in General Surgery and Preventative Medicine

BETHANY STRONG, MD, is a Surgical Critical Care Fellow at University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Dr. Strong attended Spelman College for her undergraduate degree in Biology and minor Biochemistry graduating as summa cum laude and Valedictorian. She completed her MD at Harvard Medical School in 2012 where she was active in the Student National Medical Association and student government. 

She completed her General Surgery residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. During her research time, Dr. Strong completed a Preventive Medicine residency at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. There she focused on injury and violence prevention through work at the Maryland Department of Health, Baltimore City Chief Medical Examiner Office and advocacy on Capitol Hill. Dr. Strong is a board-certified Preventive Medicine and General Surgeon physician working as an advocate for social change.

Bethany Strong, MD, is the daughter of the Reverend Leodis and Mrs. (Allena A.) Strong, President of the Connectional Council of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and Servant Pastor of Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church in Selma, Alabama.  Dr. and Mrs. Strong are overjoyed with this recent milestone in their daughter's life.

Congratulatory well-wishes can be emailed to: leodis-strong@att.net

**Birth of First Grandchild of Rev. Gloria Lasco of the Tennessee Annual Conference

Congratulation to Hadiya Gilchrist, Zoie Regin Gilchrist was born on April 21, 2020. Hadiya is the daughter of Reverend Gloria Lasco, pastor of Saint James AME Church, Pryorsburg, KY. North District, Tennessee Annual Conference. This is Pastor Lasco first grandchild.

Congratulatory messages can be emailed to:  Gloria.lasco@hotmail.com


***Pastor receives the Africana Service Award from the African and African American Studies Program at Louisiana State University for the academic year 2019-2020

Dr. Herman O. Kelly, Jr. Pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church Baton Rouge, Louisiana received the Africana Service Award from the African and African American Studies Program at Louisiana State University for the academic year 2019-2020. The award is given to a faculty member who performs far beyond their assigned duties. Dr. Kelly serves as instructor in Introduction to African American Studies and The History of The Civil Rights Movement He also serves as Financial Chair of the African and African American Studies Program and helps with recruitment of students to the program as a minor or major. The Director names a person each academic year to receive special recognition. In addition to teaching in the African and African American Studies Program he also teaches in the College of Human Sciences and Education Dr. Kelly formerly received the African American Cultural Center Legacy Award and also the African American Cultural Center Community Award.

*RETIRED GENERAL OFFICER PUBLISHES THE AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH: A HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                 

The Reverend Dennis C. Dickerson, Ph.D., a Retired General Officer in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the James M. Lawson, Jr. Professor of History at Vanderbilt University, has published a landmark volume, THE AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH: A HISTORY (New York, Cambridge University, 2020). Cambridge University Press which solicited this manuscript from Dr. Dickerson, is the globe’s premier academic publisher. In 602 pages Dr. Dickerson examines and documents the long history of the AME Church and its intersection with major social movements over more than two centuries. Beginning as a religious movement in the late 18th century and through the early 21st century, African Methodism developed as a freedom advocate for blacks in the Atlantic World. Governance of this proud black ecclesia coexisted with an emancipationist ethos to fight slavery, segregation, and colonialism. The book also recounts how this black institution reckoned with the inexorable demands produced by the abolitionist movement, the Civil War, two world wars, the civil rights movement, African decolonization, women’s empowerment, and the denomination’s rising global prominence.

Dr. Dickerson can be contacted at dennis.c.dickerson@vanderbilt.edu

The link to the book is: https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/african-methodist-episcopal-church/42CC3EB9F58B52D0A04B352045551032#.

*Connectional Officer Selected to serve on the Los Angeles County's Economic Resiliency Task Force in the Faith Sector

Congratulations to Mrs. Jacquelyn DuPont Walker, Director-Consultant of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Social Action Commission who was selected to serve on the Los Angeles County's Economic Resiliency Task Force in the Faith sector

Mrs. Jacquelyn DuPont-Walker, Director-Consultant of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Social Action Commission, was humbled and honored to be selected to serve on the Los Angeles County's Economic Resiliency Task Force in the Faith Sector.


For over 40 years, Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker has been a professional in the public and private sectors. Mrs. Dupont-Walker's strong commitment and calling to "faith-centered and empowering" development has made her a prophetic voice locally and nationally. Early in life she was impacted by the models of an entrepreneurial and visionary father and maternal grandfather who taught her self-determination and self-reliance in the context of strong faith and commitment to community service. Her maternal role models included a clever "sistah" Grandmom and Mother-dear who demonstrated and expected excellence. Mrs. Dupont-Walker pioneered in desegregating a major university, and has trail blazed on behalf of women and people of color in many arenas. She is the founding president of Ward Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and for 25 years has led it in developing over 280 units of affordable housing, one major shopping mall, encouraging indigenous leadership, creating neighborhood networks, facilitating job creation, conducting asset mapping, and spearheading an intergenerational community building effort.

She selflessly devotes skills and resources, utilizing networking as a strategy for creating strong diversified linkages from a faith-centered perspective, engaging in policy formation, facilitating economic and social empowerment, mentoring new leadership, advocating for cutting edge solutions, and encouraging institutional change that enhances the quality of life for all people. She is married to Buford “Sonny” Walker and in their blended family they have raised and nurtured 8 children and 24 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren.  


Congratulatory responses can be emailed to:

JDUPONTW@aol.com; or jdupontwalker@gmail.com, Mrs. Jacquelyn DuPont-Walker.


*Congratulations to The Reverend Dr. Jonathan C. Augustine Senior Pastor of St. Joseph AME Church, Durham, NC

Doctoral Degree Recipient
On the recommendation of the dean and faculty of Duke Divinity, The Rev. Jonathan C. Augustine was conferred the Doctor of Ministry degree from Duke University, Durham, NC.  His doctoral dissertation was "Moving the Church Toward Reconciliation: From Sacred Texts to Secular Acts of Diversity and Inclusion."

The Reverend Dr. Jonathan C. Augustine serves as the senior pastor of St. Joseph AME Church in Durham, NC, and as national chaplain of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. His ministry is filled with a history of leadership and service in addressing some of the 21st century’s most pressing social issues, bringing the church into the community and the community into the church. Immediately prior to assignment at St. Joe’s, Dr. Augustine was senior pastor of Historic St. James AME Church in New Orleans (1844), the birthplace of African Methodism in the Deep South and oldest predominately Black, Protestant church in the city. He was also an adjunct law professor at Southern University.  

Pastor Jay Augustine earned an economics degree from Howard University, along with an active duty commission as a U.S. Army infantry officer. Following four-years of decorated, active-duty military service, he earned his Juris Doctorate from Tulane University and served as a law clerk to Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice (then-Associate) Bernette Joshua Johnson. He later earned his Master of Divinity degree from United Theological Seminary, as a Beane Fellow and National Rainbow-PUSH Foundation Coalition Scholar, before completing a fellowship at Princeton Theological Seminary. 

Dr. Jonathan C. Augustine is married to St. Joseph’s First Lady, Sister Michelle Burks Augustine, his partner in life and ministry. They have two children.


Congratulatory responses can be emailed to: 

*Congratulations to the Reverend Nachia Woods English who received her Master of Divinity (M.Div.) Degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary 

Congratulations to The Reverend Nachia Woods English, Supernumerary minister on staff at Ralph Avenue AME Church, Louisville, KY, who received her Master of Divinity (M.Div.) Degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. 

The Reverend Woods-English, on her virtual hooding photo dedicates her degree to her late mother, Sister Cynthia Miller, whose funeral services were held the same day, Saturday, May 16th.

Congratulatory responses can be emailed to: n0wood03@gmail.com, or revnmenglish@gmail.comReverend Nachia Woods English.


*Congratulations to 2020 Baccalaureate Degree Recipient Anah Jeriah Sinkfield -Spelman College - Cum Laude

Anah Jeriah Sinkfield successfully completed one of the most unforgettable experiences of her early life by graduating Cum Laude from the illustrious and prestigious Spelman College on May 23, 2020. Anah is the daughter of the Reverend W. Antoni Sinkfield and First Lady Kristy J. Sinkfield, the servant leaders of Payne Chapel and St. James AME Churches in Nashville, TN. She serves under the Episcopal Leadership of Bishop Jeffrey N. Leath, Presiding Prelate of the Thirteenth Episcopal District, Dr. Susan Leath, Episcopal Supervisor, and the Rev. Troy Merritt, Jr., Presiding Elder and Mrs. Brenda Merritt of the Nashville District of the Tennessee Annual Conference.

Congratulations may be emailed to the joyful parents, the Reverend W. Antoni and Mrs. Kristy Sinkfield at pastorwas@bellsouth.net.
Rev. W. Antoni Sinkfield, Senior Pastor
Payne Chapel AME Church
212 Neill Avenue
Nashville, TN 37206
St. James AME Church
1501 Straightway Avenue
Nashville, TN 37206

*Congratulations to 2020 Baccalaureate Degree Recipient Roberta Shontell Benton-Auburn University 

Roberta Shontell Benton received her Bachelor’s degree of Science in Education from Auburn University on December 15th 2019. She is  the daughter of Reverend and Mrs. Jonathan Benton, Pastor and First Lady of St Mark AME Church, Opelika Alabama;  Bishop Harry L. Seawright, Presiding Bishop, Ninth Episcopal District, The Reverend Sherita Moon Seawright, Episcopal Supervisor, and Dr. Letia Watford, Presiding Elder, Tuskegee District.

Congratulatory responses can be emailed to the proud parents, Reverend and Mrs. Jonathan Benton@ revjoebenton@gmail.com.

*Congratulations to Charlie Andraco Benton 2020 Baccalaureate Degree Recipient-West Virginia University

Charlie Andraco Benton received his Bachelor’s degree in Multidisciplinary Studies from West Virginia University on May 15th 2020 via virtual commencement.

He is  the son of Reverend and Mrs. Jonathan Benton, Pastor and First Lady of St Mark AME Church, Opelika Alabama;  Bishop Harry L. Seawright, Presiding Bishop, Ninth Episcopal District, The Reverend Sherita Moon Seawright, Episcopal Supervisor, and Dr. Letia Watford, Presiding Elder, Tuskegee District.

Congratulatory responses can be emailed to the proud parents,  Reverend and Mrs. Jonathan Benton@ revjoebenton@gmail.com. 


On behalf of Social Action Commission Chair, Bishop Frank Madison Reid, III and Director/Consultant Social Action Commission, Jacquelyn DuPont-Walker we extend congratulations as you praise God for the Joy of these significant milestone reached.