The African-American membership of the Arizona Conference reflects the makeup of the African-American population of the state, which is quite small when compared with other ethnic segments of the state's population. It consists of African Americans, West Indians, Native Africans, and a host of people of color who reside in the state of Arizona.
Our churches are a melting pot of all God’s children.
This report covers the period from 2003 to 2007. At the end of 2003, the Conference's African-American membership in the three predominantly African-American churches stood at approximately 940. By the end of June, 2007 this membership had increased to a total of 1,150. Our tithe has also increased. Three main churches serve the majority of our African-American constituency in Arizona: the Beacon Light and South Mountain Churches in Phoenix, and the Sharon Church in Tucson. I will give a brief report on each one and conclude with our vision for the future.
The Beacon Light Church is the largest of the three churches that share the distinction of being predominantly African American. This church has experienced the blessings of the Lord as we were able to sell our church building located on 7th Street in Phoenix and relocate to a larger and more functional campus located on 51st Avenue. The new complex consists of a main sanctuary capable of holding 675 members, a youth chapel with a seating capacity of 200, an education building with twelve class rooms, a fellowship hall and dining room capable of accommodating 200 for dinner, a modern and well-equipped kitchen, four large meeting rooms, and a building that now houses the church offices—the treasurer’s office, clerk’s office, senior pastor’s office and meeting room, and an office for the associate pastor. The facility is also equipped with a large, lighted and paved parking lot capable of accommodating 175 cars. To God be the glory! With space to grow the church has seen increases in membership, tithes and offerings.
The church now offers to its new community Vacation Bible School and tutoring programs for our youth in the areas of Math and English. Members of the church who teach in the public sector provide quality tutelage on a weekly basis. A new computer classroom houses 15 computers equipped to access the Internet, and this technology has been a blessing to our tutoring ministry. The church also provides a vibrant children’s church that meets concurrently on Sabbaths and boasts a membership of approximately 85 children between the ages of three and twelve. The Lord has also blessed this congregation with two new vans purchased in 2006, which service our elderly members and our active and growing Pathfinder club, the Beacon Light Hawks.
We excitedly look to the future, anticipating what the Lord will continue to do for this “House of Miracles.” Beacon Light not only has vibrant outreach programs ministering to the local community, it has undertaken to send missionaries overseas through the ShareHim initiative. In the past several years, in partnership with our Conference, the church has sent its pastor, first elder and several members to evangelistic sites in the Philippines, South Africa, Rwanda, El Salvador and other locations.
The South Mountain Church has seen significant change in the past several years. In spite of losing its pastor in 2006—Pastor C.C. Mims who found it necessary to retire—South Mountain has seen a resurgence in both membership and finances that has heralded a new era of prosperity for that congregation. Members recently welcomed a new, young pastor, Allen Brewer and his family. Loretta and Allen have two beautiful children who are adored by their new congregation. They report a significant increase in attendance and a phenomenal increase in tithe. The church has completed renovation of its parking lot and kitchen facility, and is planning even more work on the physical plant to make it more appealing to the membership and community it serves. We welcome Pastor Brewer and family to our African-American family here in Arizona. Pastor Brewer and his wife recently returned from their first mission trip to El Salvador. By all reports God blessed marvelously.
The Sharon Church in Tucson has also experienced pastoral loss within the past several years. Pastor Israel Olaore resigned his pastorate to return to his native land of Nigeria. Elder Olaore, his wife Augusta, and their sons served well and we will miss their ministry; however, we are excited to share with you that the Sharon pulpit has been filled with a much-anticipated new addition to our family, Pastor Abraham Francois. Pastor Francois will assume responsibilities for the Sharon Church in September. In the interim Delroy Clarke, first elder, has ably led this church. The Sharon membership, too, has experienced growth and is looking forward to bonding with its new pastor. We take this opportunity to welcome Pastor Abraham and his family to Arizona.
It is the goal of the African-American Ministries Department to foster a spirit of harmony with the rest of our Arizona churches, and to provide an atmosphere of cordiality and cooperation as we strive to finish the work of our Lord here in the Valley of the Sun and within the borders of our state. Our mission is to reach souls searching for a Savior and to provide a loving place of worship for those of all nations.
Our department has planned several youth evangelistic campaigns for the Phoenix Metropolitan Valley area and a major evangelistic meeting for the end of 2007. We pray that God will richly bless our efforts to extend and expand His kingdom here on earth.
W. Don Edwards
Assistant to the President for African-American Ministries