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Submitted by Rev. Dr. Melanie Miller

Since 1987, every president of the United States of America has signed a proclamation declaring March as Women’s History Month. Women’s History month was set aside to acknowledge and honor the accomplishments of American women. We take this opportunity to highlight the accomplishments and leadership of some women in The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (A.M.E. Zion Church). These women are not the only proven leaders in our great church nor are they the only virtuous women of noble character. However, they and others embody the words of Proverbs 31:10-31. We appreciate that several A.M.E. Zion members took the time to submit accomplishments of the following women for us to honor this month:

Rev. Frances Boomer

Pastor, St. Luke AME Zion Church, New Bern District

North Carolina Conference, Eastern North Carolina Episcopal District

Rev. Boomer is being honored for her service to the church and the community-at-large. She is the faithful, compassionate, and innovative pastor of St. Luke AME Zion in Maysville, NC. Rev. Boomer is the first African American Woman to be elected and to serve as Chairperson for Craven County School Board. She has a total of over forty-six years in education and has received numerous awards for her service. Rev. Boomer is always willing to take the lead on community projects and outreach to meet the needs of the people. As pastor and a community leader, her ministry and service embodies the motto of St. Luke, “Everybody is Somebody at St. Luke.” She is most deserving of this honor.

Rev. Frances Boomer, “We Honor You!”

Rev. Dr. Myrtle Bowen

Presiding Elder, Harrisburg District

Philadelphia/Baltimore Conference, Mid-Atlantic Episcopal District

Rev. Dr. Bowen is the definition of a pioneer. She is the first African American woman chaplain promoted to the rank of Colonel serving in the United States Air Force Air National Guard. As Air National Guard Assistant to the Command Chaplain, Africa Command, Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany, she advises the Command Chaplain and staff on matters of National Guard policy, program operations and utilization of the National Guard’s chaplain community, interfacing with United States Air Force and Army Reserve programs. She recently retired as an Architectural Engineer with the Master Planning Division for the federal government. She serves as the Second Vice President of the International Ministers and Lay Association and a stalwart leader as the presiding elder of the Harrisburg District.

Rev. Dr. Myrtle Bowen, “We Honor You!”

Sis. Glenda Davis-Canteen

Past South Atlantic Lay Council Regional Director

Member, Shaw Temple AME Zion Church, Smyrna, GA

Atlanta District, Georgia Conference, South Atlantic Episcopal District

Sis. Davis-Canteen has worked in education for over 35 years positively impacting the lives of children through her teaching and administrative gifts. She currently serves Georgia's North West Region’s Early Education Community Partnership Coordinator in the Quality Innovations and Partnership unit. Sis. Davis-Canteen serves as a deaconess in her local church, Shaw Temple AME Zion Church. She is a life member of Women’s Home and Overseas Missionary Society, life member of the Lay Council, and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. In 2017, she received the International Ministers and Lay Association’s Samantha Wormley Lay Leadership Award. Her favorite scripture is, "And whatsoever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:17 (NIV)

Sis. Glenda Davis-Canteen, “We Honor You!”

Rev. Dr. Amy Ciceron

Pastor, East Stonewall AME Zion Church, Charlotte District

Western North Carolina Conference, Piedmont Episcopal District

Rev. Dr. Ciceron is the newly appointed Pastor of East Stonewall AME Zion Church on the Charlotte District. She previously pastored Shiloh in the Statesville District, and St. Julia in the New Bern District. She teaches Theology and Evangelism to fourth year conference studies students in the Western North Carolina Conference. She freely gives of her time, expertise, and knowledge to challenge her students in ways that make them better holistically. She inspires her students to dig deeper to explore new and more diverse perspectives. Her presence is described as “refreshing!” She is a natural born spiritual leader and mentor to her students and those she shepherds. She is unknowingly, making positive impacts and major impartations to God’s people. Rev. Dr. Ciceron is well deserving of this honor.

Rev. Dr. Amy Ciceron, “We Honor You!”

Ms. Queen E. Degraphenreid

Social Justice Advocate

Member, Simon Temple AME Zion Church,

Central North Carolina Conference, Eastern North Carolina Episcopal District

Continuing the legacy of the “Freedom Church”, Ms. Degraphenreid will celebrate 60 years in social justice on August 28, 2023. That date is remarkable in that it coincides with the 60th Anniversary of the March on Washington. Ms. Degraphenreid’s service in Zion lay leadership expands from local Lay President to the Connectional Lay Council, serving the longest tenure as Social Political Action Committee Chair. On the 30th Anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, she was one of 30 women inducted into the National Voting Rights Museum. As a community activist, she has served in the leadership of the Fayetteville Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Ms. Degraphenreid, a woman deserving of our recognition.

Ms. Queen E. Degraphenreid, “We Honor You!”

Rev. Dr. Erlinda Dobson

Presiding Elder, New Bern District

Pastor, Bryant Chapel AME Zion Church, New Bern District

North Carolina Conference, Eastern North Carolina Episcopal District

Rev. Dr. Dobson continues to be a trailblazing presiding elder and pastor as she implements programs and activities to assist all people. She is an activist, and she is always willing to lead in any humanitarian effort. Rev. Dr. Dobson received the prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the Ole North State Medical Society’s Gold Medal, and the International Ministers and Lay Association’s Sojourner Truth Award. In addition, she serves on Zion’s Christian Education Board. Even during an economic recession, the congregation at Bryant Chapel built a 2.5-million-dollar church under her leadership. She is well known preacher and impactful teacher, but better known to her family as a loving wife, mother, and grandmother. Unselfishly and unequivocally, she makes a difference in Zion!

Rev. Dr. Erlinda Dobson, “We Honor You!”

Rev. Dr. Willa Estell

Presiding Elder, Maryville District

Pastor, St. Paul AME Zion Church, Maryville District

Executive Secretary, Presiding Elders Council

Tennessee Conference, Midwest Episcopal District

Rev. Dr. Estell is a compassionate and detail oriented hard worker who serves in many noteworthy capacities in The AME Zion Church. She is the Executive Secretary of the Presiding Elders Council, a member of the Board of Global Missions, an Alternate Delegate to the World Methodist Council, the Coordinator of the Midwest and Trinidad-Tobago Leadership Training Institutes, the Coordinator for the Leadership Training Institute, Treasurer of the Tennessee Conference, Chairperson of Conference Admissions Committee, Vice President of the Trustee Board, Coordinator of the Intercessory Prayer Ministry, Chairperson of the Nominating Committee, and Chairperson of Specialized Ministry. She worked as chaplain for Blount Memorial Hospital and Blount Memorial Hospice and completed residency chaplain at The University of Tennessee Medical Center in August 2022. She is the proud mother of three and grandmother of two.

Rev. Dr. Willa Estell, “We Honor You!”

Ms. Jessica Gamble

Camden District President, Women’s Home and Overseas Missionary Society

Member, St. Paul AME Zion Church, Camden District

New Jersey Conference, North Eastern Episcopal District

Ms. Jessica Gamble has served as the Camden District President of the Women’s Home and Overseas Missionary Society for six years. Previously, she served as the District YAMS Coordinator for 12 years. She is described as “creative, innovative, dependable, detail oriented, and a wonderful person to work with and to work for.” She is the Assistant Registrar at Princeton University, a dedicated member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and works for several other community organizations and church ministries. She is the mother of two “AMAZING” Zion young ladies, Miss Shanice Gamble Union, the chair of the Technology Ministry at St. Paul and Camden District Assistant Chairperson of YACM and Miss JonBonae Shipmen, an author, and the Graphics Designer for the St. Paul Technology Ministry.

Ms. Jessica Gamble and your daughters, “We Honor You!”

Rev. Mary Helen Giles

Pastor, Reeveytown AME Zion Church, Camden District

New Jersey Conference, North Eastern Episcopal District

Rev. Giles is a Woman after God’s own heart. Although she is retired from working as a Supervisor for the United Parcel Service (UPS), God called her to the preaching ministry, and she has been working for Him ever since. She is a pastor, preacher, teacher, missionary, and evangelist who drives folks to run errands, doctor appointments and provides rides to the airport. She is described as “kind, compassionate, and a loving and loyal friend.” She is one sharp dresser who has more hats than one can ever wear and reminds us “you wear the hat, don’t let the hat wear you”!

Rev. Mary Helen Giles, “We Honor You!”

Rev. Dr. Laticia Hill Godette

Presiding Elder, Camden District

New Jersey Conference, North Eastern Episcopal District

Rev. Dr. Godette is described as “Black Woman Excellence!” She is a devoted wife, mother of three beautiful young ladies, and a successful business owner, who serves as an inspiration, role model, and Godly example. She is the first woman to pastor a “first church” on the Washington District and in the North Carolina Conference. In 2021, she became the first woman to serve as Presiding Elder of the Camden District and in the New Jersey Conference. She is a philanthropist who gave over 1.5 million dollars to churches and Livingstone College, as well as scholarships to help students. Her continued generosity, authenticity and love for God’s people is unmatched. She pours out her heart daily on the Prayer Line and freely shares the “Blueprint” for success on her Business Line. As a result, many people have been, and are being, saved, delivered, set free and EMPOWERED! Dr. Godette walks the talk and well deserves this honor!

Rev. Dr. Laticia Hill Godette, “We Honor You!”

Mrs. Doris Hollis

Camden District, Lay Council President

Member St. Paul AME Zion Church, Camden District

New Jersey Conference, North Eastern Episcopal District

Sister Hollis has served faithfully as a Sunday School Teacher, Choir Member, Missionary, church historian, and mentor to new leaders at St. Paul AME Zion Church, Ewing, NJ. Mrs. Hollis currently serves as the Camden District President of the Lay Council and has held that office since 2001. During her tenure, she initiated the Grandparent Luncheon and Celebration, which is held annually to recognize grandparents representing all the Camden District churches. Mrs. Hollis is devoted to providing support, resources, and guidance to the local Lay Council Presidents, and to the clergy and lay members of the New Jersey Conference.

Mrs. Doris Hollis, “We Honor You!”