It is fitting that the African Orthodox Church, Inc. celebrates its 100th anniversary during Black History Month. For it was because of the oppression of racism that the church was born on September 2, 1921 in New York as the combined work of George Alexander McGuire and Marcus Garvey. McGuire later became the first bishop and patriarch of the church. The church’s official 100th anniversary was in 2021. But due to COVID-19, St. Peter’s African Orthodox Cathedral here in Miami celebrated virtually.
“This year we will have an in-person celebration, with special services and a celebratory luncheon,” said Tangela Griffin, church spokesperson.
According to the history of the church, she was “…born out of racism and brought to ecclesiastical freedom for all peoples of the African Diaspora. Today, people of all colors and ethnicities are accepted as members.
The denomination includes the word “African” in its name because of its special mission to the African race. It is ruled entirely by people of African descent and is Orthodox because it conforms to the faith of the Eastern Orthodox Churches from which its episcopate is derived. It is the first African-American apostolic church in the Western Hemisphere and its apostolic succession dates back to St. Peter of Antioch.
The Southern African Orthodox Church was started by 12 lay people, who asked McGuire for the services of a priest. Reverend Ernest Leopold Peterson was sent from New York to lead St. Peter’s Miami African Orthodox Church, then new to Miami. The original church house was northwest of Third Avenue and 17th Street in Overtown. It remained on this site until 1968 when, like many other black churches, businesses, and homes, the church was relocated by Miami’s Urban Renewal Initiative. The congregation then moved to its current home, a modified office building at 4841 NW Second Ave. in 1968. The sanctuary was renovated in 1988 and is now the mother church of the denomination.
The long-awaited Centennial Celebration will include the Centennial Luncheon at 11 a.m. on Saturday (February 19) at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center, 711 NW 72nd Ave., and the celebration of the Centennial Divine Liturgy at 10 a.m. on Sunday (February 19). 20) at St. Peter’s African Orthodox Cathedral, 4841 NW Second Ave. For lunch tickets, call Dianne Hicks Rolle, President, at 305-923-2533.
The “No More Broken Hearts” event to fight against domestic violence
It seems barely 22 years have passed since Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall launched the annual “No More Broken Hearts” symposium to focus on the dangers of domestic violence. But on February 19, Bendross-Mindingall, will once again present the all-day event with the hope that anyone still struggling in an abusive domestic relationship will muster enough courage to escape.
A member of the Miami-Dade County School Board, Bendross-Mindingall has always made it one of her many priorities to help others have a better quality of life. Prior to entering politics, she was an elementary school principal, who often found work at her school for state-supported mothers, as an incentive to encourage them to return to school to prepare them for a good job. Some of the mothers took his advice and moved from welfare to schoolteachers.
This year’s speakers at No More Broken Hearts will include Dr. Lita Thompson, moderator, Rene Gordon, Esq., Christina Mills, Therese Holmer, Cynthia Stafford, Esq., Judge Gonzalez-Paulson, Melbas Person, Esq., and Ivon Mesa ; the speakers for the youth workshop will be Judge Orlando Prescott and Michelle Prescott.
The virtual event will be on Zoom and will begin at 9 a.m. It’s free but registration is required. To register, go to: 2022nomorebrokenhearts.Eventbrite.com, or call Ketoe Tate at 305-995-2311.
A dear friend has passed away
On January 16, I wrote a column about friendship and what my friends mean to me. In this column, I mentioned Ruth Davis-Beaman, a friend of over 50 years. On January 30, two weeks after this column was published, my dear friend Ruth passed away.
In her obituary in the funeral program, I wrote that she was a songbird; she loved to sing – in the church choir, in community choirs and as a soloist. It is difficult for me to face the reality that Ruth’s voice is now silent here on earth. I can still see her laughing at my lame jokes. And flashes of our time together keep coming to mind.
For example, Ruth and I liked to go to Sam’s store for lunch. I would do my shopping in bulk and then line up for our favorite Sam’s meal – a hot dog and a cold drink. Once I loaded my stuff into the trunk of my car, I walked across the parking lot to find a nice shade tree to park the car under. We were sitting there talking and laughing and enjoying our lunch. It was a simple but sweet moment spent with my friend.
Ruth and I met around 1974 at the Miami Herald. She was what we called an OCR typist, whose job it was to enter reporters’ stories into the computer system, back when reporters didn’t have their own personal computers. I was immediately drawn to his friendly smile and it wasn’t long before we became best friends. We loved the same things a lot, like going to church, singing, cooking, sewing and traveling. She never had children, but she loved my sons and so many other children. We didn’t go to the same church, but we often visited each other’s churches.
In her final days, Ruth was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. She didn’t want me to know and fought back. When it repeated, I tried to pretend it was the first time I heard the story. She lived alone and I liked to call her to find out if she wanted to “ride with me” somewhere, anywhere. She loved these outings; I did too. She was my co-pilot – my driving partner. When her doctor advised her to stop cooking, me and her neighbor Dana Taber brought her her favorite dishes.
To say that our friendship was without struggles would not be the truth. Sometimes Ruth tried my last nerve. But she was my friend and friends forgive friends. I just prayed that the Lord would give me patience with her. He did.
It’s been two weeks since Ruth transitioned. She is survived by her sister Wauna Sorey-White and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and godchildren. Earth seems a little lonelier without her.
Bea Hines can be contacted at [email protected]