CHARLOTTE, NC – Zion’s Church family, Charlotte community leaders, members of the Piedmont, North Carolinians, and other members of the family of God gathered to celebrate forceful, faithful, fruitful, and powerful leadership provided for 51 years by The Right Reverend George Edward Battle, Jr., Senior Bishop of The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (AME Zion), and Presiding Prelate of the Piedmont Episcopal District.
On Saturday, October 21, 2017, at the Greater Gethsemane AME Zion Church, praises to God and commendations from clergy, lay, friends and family for the gifts of Bishop Battle were shared in a full house of worship on Campus Street in Charlotte, North Carolina. The celebration began with a lively introduction by Reverend Dr. Daran H. Mitchell, Pastor of Trinity AME Zion Church, Greensboro, NC, followed by a heartfelt invocation. Reverend Dr. Calvin L. Miller, Presiding Elder of the Winston-Salem District, lined the hymn of praise, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” that was sung with joy and adoration, accompanied by Mr. Shipps Washington, musician of Trinity AME Zion Church, Greensboro, NC.
Rev. Dr. Haven O. Anderson, Pastor of Marvin AME Zion Church, Waxhaw, NC, led the responsive reading that paid homage to a gifted, prayerful leader who feeds his people and helps them to grow, who gifted the Church to make it ready to serve, and the people responded thankfully for one who has given spiritual guidance for the sake of Kingdom building. Reverend Sherian L. Carr led us in the affirmation of faith by reciting the Apostles Creed.
Words of the Lord were read from the Old Testament, Psalm 139, by Reverend Ellison Bowman, a son in the ministry and Pastor of Torrence Chapel AME Zion Church, Charlotte, NC. The New Testament reading of Matthew 6:19-33, was read by Rev. Dr. Dwayne A. Walker, Pastor of Little Rock AME Zion Church, Charlotte, NC. The reading of the Epistle, Romans 8:28-39, was read by Reverend Michael J. Massey, Sr., Presiding Elder, Rockingham District. Reverend Dr. Anthony J. Freeman, Pastor of Clinton Tabernacle AME Zion Church, Hickory, NC, took us to the throne of grace with a mighty prayer of thanksgiving for the episcopal leadership of Bishop George E. Battle, Jr., a servant with Godly counsel, a shepherd’s heart, and loyalty to family and church.
Reverend Dr. Michael E. Ellis, Presiding Elder, Greensboro District, presented the occasion that celebrates Bishop Battle, a servant of God who has preached the gospel of Jesus Christ and has preached salvation everywhere he has gone, from a small church, Mt. Vernon AME Zion Church in South Carolina to Greater Gethsemane AME Zion Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, to the land of the Episcopacy, for 51 years. He ended by wishing that God will bless Bishop Battle with 51 more years. Following the occasion, Reverend J. Ruth Davis, Pastor of Shiloh AME Zion Church, Statesville District, presented a few selected acknowledgments, received from people all over this country and even this world, thanking God for our beloved Bishop. The voice of well-wishers included Rev. Dr. Kathryn Brown, Secretary/Treasurer, Christian Education Department, and Dr. Clifford Jones, Pastor, Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC; Mr. Harvey Gantt, former Mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina; Ms. Mary J. Matthews, International President, Connectional Lay Council; and AME Zion Episcopates, Bishop & Mrs. George W. Walker, Sr., Retired Bishop; Bishop Staccato Powell, Presiding Prelate of the Western Episcopal District; Bishop & Mrs. Michael A. Frencher, Sr. Presiding Prelate of the Southwestern Delta Episcopal District; Bishop & Mrs. W. Darin Moore, Mid-Atlantic Episcopal District; Dr. Vergel L. Lattimore, President, Hood Theological Seminary; and Bishop & Mrs. Hilliard K. Dogbe, Western West Africa Episcopal District.
Our Bishop loves worship and is a consummate worshipper and, because music is a part of the African-American church worship experience, Ms. Teresa Moore-Mitchell from Livingstone College performed a stellar, acapella rendition of “Ride On, King Jesus.”
One of the highlights of this anniversary was the presentation of words of celebration and commendation for Bishop Battle’s 51 years in ministry. Presentations included individuals from the Community, Mr. Larry Dagenhardt; Educational Institution, Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr., President of Livingstone College; Carolinas Healthcare System, Mrs. Debra Plousha-Moore, System Chief of Staff; Carolinas Healthcare System Board (former chairman), Mr. James Hynes; Carolinas Healthcare System Board Chairman, Mr. Ed Brown; Classmate - Reverend Dr. Marion Wilson; Friends - Dr. Barbara L. Shaw (Immediate Past Chair, National Council of Negro Women and former International President, WHOMS), Reverend Melvin L. Tate (Pastor, Mt. Calvary AME Zion Church), Reverend Dr. Kevin W. McGill, Sr. (Presiding Elder, Concord District and Pastor, Rock Hill AME Zion Church); Home Missions Department - Mrs. Mary Bonaparte, President, Western North Carolina Conference; Lay Representatives were Mrs. Alice Steele-Robinson, Mrs. Lillian Pryor Williams, and Mrs. Leondras Davis, First VP Connectional Lay Council; WHOMS - Mrs. Shirley McCoy (Missionary Supervisor, Retired); Christian Education Department - Reverend Dr. Raymon Hunt; General Officers - Dr. Shirley Welch, Chief Financial Officer; and Camp Dorothy Walls Conference & Retreat Center - Reverend Herbert Grant, Presiding Elder, Asheville District and Camp Dorothy Walls Manager.
Following some of the words of celebration and commendation, a selection by Dr. Daran Mitchell brought the house to its feet as he sung one of Bishop Battle’s favorite hymns, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”
After the awesome rendition of this special hymn of God’s providential care, the Greater Gethsemane AME Zion Church presented more words of celebration and thanks for the opportunity of hosting Bishop Battle’s anniversary and those members were Mrs. Jessica Allen, Mr. Larry Melton, Mr. Herbert Blair, Reverend David A. Williams (Pastor), and Reverend Dr. David R. Baker, (former Pastor and Presiding Elder of the Statesville District). Ministers speaking on behalf of clergy included, Reverend Mildred Twitty, Pastor, St. Paul Tabernacle AME Zion Church, and Reverend Dr. Derrick Anderson, Pastor of Soldiers Memorial AME Zion Church. Reverend Dr. Grant Harrison, Jr., son in the ministry, and Presiding Elder of the Salisbury District, spoke on behalf of the Presiding Elders Council and ended by saying, “Bishop, you’ve been proclaiming liberty in the preaching of the gospel and seeking first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness for some 51 years. Bishop George Edward Battle has lived a stellar life, so sound the trumpet in Zion, for this is his jubilee.”
As the Piedmont Episcopal District stood, Reverend Dr. George H. McNeely, Presiding Elder, Lincolnton District, made a presentation and gift of love to the honoree. Also, Mrs. LaChandra Battle Rapley, Bishop Battle’s daughter, shared words of love and pride on behalf of the Battle Family, for his exemplary life as a servant of God, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a father-in-law and as a cousin. Mrs. Iris Miller Battle, Missionary Supervisor, thanked everyone for attending and showering the Battle family, specifically her husband, with words of love and commendation. Lastly, Reverend Dr. Wardell Henderson, Presiding Elder, North Charlotte District, spoke about his long-term friendship, with Battle, that has continued even after he became a Bishop in Zion Methodism.
Reverend Dr. Benjamin L. Morrow, Sr., Presiding Elder, Charlotte District, presented Bishop George D. Crenshaw, Central Southern Africa Episcopal District, who presented Bishop Darryl B. Starnes, Midwest Episcopal District. Bishop Starnes stated that, “In team sports, only a few rise to the level of super star as their gifts and skills stand above all the rest.” Few rise to the level of MVP - their leadership and character makes everyone around them better. “Bishop Battle, you’re not just a super star, you’re a MVP.” Bishop Starnes ended with this, “When the history books are fully written, you’ll be right next to the names of James Varick, Christopher Rush, James Walker Hood, and William Jacob Walls - the great Bishops.”
Bishop Starnes then presented the President of the Board of Bishops, Bishop Dennis V. Proctor, North Eastern Episcopal District. Bishop Proctor, the keynote speaker, brought reflections - reminding us that Bishop Battle teaches by example and that we should be industrious (for he is a hard worker); amphibious (he knows church and business); and miraculous (when we’re against the wall, he will show you a way a little later). Bishop Proctor ended his keynote by stating, “This giant of the Church is saying to preachers, bishops, members, and friends – you go and do likewise.”
Bishop Proctor presented the man of the hour, The Right Reverend George E. Battle, Jr., who brought remarks to all in attendance. The crowd was full of excitement with vigorous applause. Bishop Battle began by saying with humility that he did not deserve this, and everyone said in unison, “yes you do!” He thanked everyone who had spoken for helping him to do ministry. Also, Bishop Battle thanked the Greater Gethsemane church for the love and support provided to him over the years, for they have been his rock. They never said no to ministries, so he is thankful to God for them. Bishop Battle thanked his wife of 47 years, Mrs. Iris Miller Battle. Of course, he thanked God for all who attended, notably, Shipps Washington, Reverend Darin H. Mitchell, Ms. Janice Jones (Bishop’s Executive Assistant), the Men’s Boosters Ministry, the Gethsemane Church family, President Jimmy R. Jenkins, his colleagues, Bishop Starnes who travelled from Italy to attend this momentous occasion, Rev. George E. McKain (Director of Public Affairs & Social Concerns), Mrs. Addie Lisby (Chief Communications Officer/Editor, The Star of Zion), and Bishop Warren M. Brown (Retired).
The celebration closed with everyone singing joyfully, “God Be With You Till We Meet Again.” Reverend Dr. William M. Jordan III, Presiding Elder, Wadesboro-Monroe District, presented Bishop Brown who gave a very powerful benediction.
Reverend Dr. Andrew B. Smoke, Presiding Elder, Hendersonville District, blessed the food for the reception that followed in the Greater Gethsemane Fellowship Hall.
To God be the glory for the things He has done and continues to do in the life of Bishop George E. Battle, Jr.