Marian Wright Edelman Celebrates Ecumenical University & Beverly Jones-Gurley shares a video message from the founder of the Children’s Defense Fund celebrating Ecumenical University.
Dr. Jimmy LaRose, Ecumenical University’s Dean of Philanthropic Studies, celebrated Ecumenical University Board of Regents’ installation of Dr. Beverly Jones-Gurley as EU’s President. LaRose, Bishop Redfern II along with American icon Marian Wright Edelman shared a message of congratulations with Dr. Gurley. Marian Wright Edelman is an activist for civil rights and children’s rights. She is the founder and president emerita of the Children’s Defense Fund. She influenced leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Hillary Clinton.
Ecumenical University is a Christian academic community in the tradition of evangelical institutions of higher education. As such, Ecumenical continues the philosophy of education which first gave rise to the university, and which is summarized in the following propositions. God, the infinite source of all things, has shown us truth through scripture, nature, history, and above all, in Christ. Persons are spiritual, rational, moral, social, and physical, created in the image of God. They are, therefore, able to know and to value themselves and other persons, the universe, and God. Education as the process of teaching and learning, involves the whole person, by developing the knowledge, values, and skills which enable each individual to change freely. Thus it occurs most effectively when both instructor and student are properly related to God and each other through Christ.
“The Mission of the Ecumenical Church is to bring people to Jesus and Membership in His family, develop them to Christlike Maturity, and equip them for their Ministry in the church and life Mission in the World in order to magnify God’s name.”
The Ecumenical Church was founded by Bishop Redfern in 1995. Bishop Redfern wanted to reach people who were not active members of traditional or legacy churches. Perhaps they were at one time but had fallen by the wayside. They were church dropout or put outs. Some were on drugs, unwed mothers, homeless, or even abused by church leaders or members. These are the people the Ecumenical Church wanted to reach.
For twenty years the Ecumenical Church has sought to be a place of refuge for the unwanted. As a body, the focus of the church has been Matthew 25:35-36. The Pastors, congregations poured their hearts into serving the broken and unwanted.
’35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Bishop Redfern led the church to devote all of its energy and resources to ministering unto the poor and downtrodden. For twenty years the Ecumenical Church moved like a herd of traveling nomads seeking and serving the lost. Starting in the Margaret H. Miller Center, only to move to Bethlehem Community Center, Grace Christian Center, Drew Park, Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Greater Carolina Baptist Church, First Church of the Nazarene and finally to Christ Central.
In each location, we formed partnerships with other churches and community organizations to serve unwed mothers and their children, unruly and profane youth, recovering drug addicts, sex offenders, pedophiles and homosexuals, convicted felony offenders, the homeless and the mentally ill.
The Ecumenical Church was a spiritual, loving church home for these and many others. It was always the goal of the Ecumenical Church to integrate these members back into the general community and create healthy fellowship and membership into the family of God through the church of Jesus Christ. To accomplish this task, Bishop Redfern led the church to establish projects and programs to minister to the people. All of these activities were constructed with prayer and worship as cornerstone principles.
For the cast away children (called BeBe kids) that no one wanted in their churches, The Ecumenical Church started football, baseball and basketball teams. The church organized trips to Carowinds and other amusements parks for the families of these children. There were children who were not getting a good hearty and healthy dinner at home, so church responded by cooking dinner 4 nights a week. On Sundays, the church took over 200 children and 100 homeless persons to the Golden Corral for over 5 years. Pivotal to all activities with children was Sunday worship services and Wednesday night Bible Study. The children learned to pray and were eager to attend and participate in Sunday worship services. Over 300 children came to Wednesday night lectionary based Bible Study. They became student leaders in prayer, Bible study and Sunday worship.
Eventually, the children brought their parents to church for special occasions. It was amazing to hear the testimonies of parents who suffered much but found hope and acceptance in the Ecumenical Church. Over the years, these parents, as a result of their children’s prayers became involved and active ministers in the church. They prepared meals, drove buses and vans, after having gotten CDL licenses.
The church witnessed transformation in many families by the power of the Gospel being preach and lived in the Ecumenical Community of Faith.
The one Ecumenical Church congregation has grown to 15 churches and the Ecumenical Mother Church has purchased its own sanctuary but the spirit of servant leadership remains strong. Men and women who were once considered the least of these are now leading churches and ministries. Each church meets in the Mother Church as services are held each hour on Saturday and Sunday. Each congregation has its own appointed pastor and elected leadership with its own finances.
Using the small group concept to establish church the same way Christ ministered to, with and through the 12 disciples. Each small group become a training vehicle to develop leaders who are willing to bleed, suffer and die for the cause of Christ not a church vocation, position or salary, It is for this reason the ecumenical minister is an itinerant. One who is not looking to establish his own kingdom but rather contribute to the building of the kingdom of God. It is a reasonable service to the example of Church community in the book of Acts.
Having accomplished this in Columbia, SC, our efforts in South Carolina are extended to Charleston Orangeburg, Rock Hill, Florence, Greenville, Spartanburg, Aiken and Sumter. The Churches are recruiting ministers and lay leaders for service in the areas. There will be 10 congregations in each area to facilitate expansion and growth to reach the region. Since it can take twenty five years for a congregation to become stable and effective, the Ecumenical Church is aggressively building leaders and buying property to create a framework for Jesus centered ministry.
The General Conference of Bishops of the Ecumenical Church has the same broader plan for the Southeastern part of the United States in what is called the ‘Bible belt’. Prayer groups and Ecumenical Churches are targeted for Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Recruited ministers and Lay leaders for these states have started the process of identifying properties for the Mother Church location in each state.
On the International level, the Ecumenical Church has over 3,000 prayer groups in India covering the country southern region. Ecumenical Church leaders in India have plans to follow the same model being used in the United States. The churches already established are seeking to organized themselves into districts to facilitate better cooperation with the Ecumenical Church Worldwide. There are several Bible college campuses being used to train Ecumenical Leaders. A cable TV station is broadcasting christian Programming to our lay leaders in the villages and small distant communities.
The Ecumenical Church is well established in Central and East Africa with newly ordained ministers and established Churches. There are 14 countries in East Africa where we have established Ecumenical Ministers and Churches that grew out of Prayer groups. The first, second and third campuses for the Ecumenical University are presently being built in Uganda. The Ecumenical Church of East Africa is building 28 campuses spread across the region. Each campus will provide Cross Style Theology Training for ministers and life skills training in masonry, beauty and barbering and sewing. In Central Africa our churches are building schools and orphanages.
There are ministers and prayer groups in Europe, South America and the Caribbean who have not yet formally organized their churches and ministries in Ecumenical Church districts.
Marian Wright Edelman Celebrates Ecumenical University & Beverly Jones-Gurley was first posted at JimmyLaRose.com