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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Resources for tornado disaster victims and volunteers

Posted: Apr 29, 2011 5:18 PM CDT on

Updated: Apr 29, 2011 5:18 PM CDT
by Jonathan Pinnick –

MONTGOMERY - AL - Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has activated the Governor's Recovery Response Center. It's a central place to help people affected by storms to get resources people need in the aftermath.

If you have questions about state government assistance call (866) 465-2241. The call center is open daily from 7:00am until 7:00pm.

You can also get help by calling 211 or visiting You can also get help by calling 211 or visiting;;0;;N;0;31241;Disaster%20Services .


If you are looking for ways to volunteer, contact the Governor's Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives at (877) 273-5018. You can also log onto .

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Letter from Bishop Snorton on Storm Damage in Alabama

April 28, 2011

Dear Connectional Members and Friends,

The storms and tornadoes in Alabama have caused widespread damage and significant loss of life. In conversations with the Presiding Elders, I have gathered the following information about our churches and members. The CME Church is blessed in that, so far, we are unaware of any death of any of our members. Trinity Church in Pratt City has some damage and a number of church members there have damage to their homes. A member of Porter-St. Paul Church in Northport lost her home. A number of members of Southside CME Church in Birmingham have damage to their homes. A couple of churches in the Mobile District have minor damage. Just about everyone statewide is still without power. Telephone service, even cell phone service, is sporadic. Authorities estimate 3-4 days for power to be restored. We will update you on any additional information we receive.

Please keep the members of our church and all of those who have been impacted by these events in your prayers in the days ahead.

Bishop Teresa E. Snorton
Presiding Prelate, Fifth Episcopal District
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

Jeanette Bouknight
Executive Secretary
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

"An Essential Church: Poised for 21st Century Ministry"

Sunday, April 24, 2011


People say a lot of inaccurate things about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, especially about what may seem like contradictory accounts in the 4 gospels. Some of these criticisms come out of misunderstanding or not reading the scriptures. Some come from blindly repeating clich├ęs and traditions we’ve heard over time. Some are just plain lies.

Listen to this sermon and see the full picture of Jesus' burial and resurrection. Listen so you can GET THE STORY STRAIGHT.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is the pastor of hall memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Rd., Montgomery, AL 36116
Phone: 334-288-0577

Saturday, April 23, 2011

ALL THE TIME IT TAKES: A Lesson from Holy Saturday

About 2,000 years ago, Jesus spent a day like today—in the grave. He spent a Saturday like this one in Hell/ Sheol/ Hades; & He didn’t have to. He didn’t deserve to be there. He’d done nothing worthy of death. He had taken our penalty, our condemnation upon Himself. He had gone down for us. Jesus could understandably have said, “I’m not spending another minute her.” Instead, He stayed. He stayed the last day, the full time. Why?

“3 days,” the prophets said. 3 days the Savior stayed. He put in the full time to fulfill the mission of love.

Are you willing to put in the full time to fulfill your mission?

The calling, the task God has placed on your life and in your heart---you know what it is---won’t happen in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye. There are parts of it that are tedious, thankless, and downright hard. To fulfill the task, you have to give up some of that precious American leisure time. The mission will take as long as it takes. It requires as much work as it requires, and no less—despite your whining. But, you already know this.

Will you put in the time?

On a Saturday like this about 2,000 years since Christ’s Resurrection, will you honor Him with your time? From this moment, will you persevere under the pressure until you have run your full race, finished your complete course, and fought all of the fight ordained for you?

Friday, April 22, 2011


In Luke 16: 1-13, Jesus told the parable of an unjust steward. To be clear, the main character in this story was not a good guy. He was a “hustler” in all the word’s negative connotations. Nonetheless, (and this is what trips up many Christian readers) Jesus presents the steward as someone worthy of commendation/ respect.

The Master doesn’t commend the unjust steward for his past. His past was worthy only of judgment (v. 1, 2). The Master doesn’t commend the steward for his repentance. The steward doesn’t repent; he acts out of self-preservation & vanity (v. 3, 4). The Master doesn’t commend the steward for his sense of mercy and forgiveness. The debts the steward forgave didn’t involve his money; that’s not mercy (v. 5-7). The Master gives the steward props because he’d handled his business/ he’d dealt shrewdly (v. 8). The steward saw how things were going and immediately went out and “got on his grind.” He handled his business in such a way that it delivered a return to his Master and positioned the steward to provide for his own future.

Too often Christians see how things are going and do nothing. We talk about faith, and God’s time, and deliverance; but when things start to shift in our lives honestly most of us don’t even pray differently. Oh, we “say more prayers” when we lose a job or get a bad diagnosis. But do those life-changes alter your prayer-life. Did you add another 30 minutes of devoted prayer time to every day? Or did you just fire a prayer off while you were in the doctor’s waiting room? How are you handling your prayer business?

The unjust steward would have talked to as many medical providers and insurance people as he had to for as many hours as he had to over as many days, weeks, months as he need to until the situation was handled. How long, how often, are you willing to talk to God? How are you handling your business?

Did you start going to Bible study and Sunday school? Start really studying the Word of God at home every day, searching commentaries and resources on line to understand what God has to say about your situation? Or did you show up to one mid-week Bible study to vent to the pastor, and then never come back? Did you get on & stay on your Bible-study grind?

The unjust steward would have talked to everybody in his network and contacts list. He would have read everything out there. He would prepare and then prepare some more until he understood his situation and what to do. Then, he would have done it. How much time, study, and actual work have you been putting into serving your Master, into understanding how your Master wants to be served from this moment forward?

Jesus said: The sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light

Secular rappers produce some of the most profane and morally twisted poetry in the world. Rappers like Jay-Z, Lil’ Wayne, and Drake glorify the worst aspects of Black culture and either ridicule or ignore most of what should be glorified.

But they do handle their business.

While we complain that an hour- and-a-half of Bible study is too much for a weekday evening, Lil Wayne says in a BET interview “I try not to sleep. I try to work more.”

Church-folk drag their feet about moving to the next level of ministry and service to God in these last day. Congregations try to water down the Biblical commands to holiness and perfection (Leviticus 11:4, 19:2, 20:26; Matthew 5: 48; John 17: 23). Meanwhile Jay Z records a song about moving”On to the Next One," in which he rhymes “I’m moving onward, only direction. Can’t be scared to fail. Search for perfection.”

While the church sits, satisfied with mediocrity, content that we’re going to heaven even if we leave no lasting impact on this Earth, even if we don’t bring anybody into heaven with us--- 24 year old high-school dropout, Drake raps in different songs, “Everybody dies, but not everybody lives. I’m trying to do better than good enough. Cause you know life is what we make it and a chance is like a picture, it’d be nice if you’d just take it.”

Like the unjust steward, these rappers are caught up in lifestyles worthy of condemnation. If they don’t receive Jesus as savior they’re as doomed to hell as anybody else who dies unredeemed.

But you have to respect their grind.

I’m not saying Christians need to adopt a thug mentality. Jesus cautioned against that misunderstanding in the parable of the unjust steward.

Luke 16: 13 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

But, we can learn this lesson from the parable of the unjust rappers:

Quit whining
Start grinding
Your time is
Right now
Get down, bro
Bow down, bro
That prayer time is how.
Your blade’s dull
Get your brain full
Of the Word
Daily Bread
Love Jesus
Like Jay-Z loves
His bank, son
We sleep
When we’re dead.

Romans 13: 11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II,
Pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Road, Montgomery, AL 36116
Phone: 334-288-0577

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Read the Manual

Proverbs 16: 20 He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.

Every new cell phone comes with a manual. Most of us though only read the quick set-up instructions and (maybe) specific sections like “how to transfer contacts.” Then, we toss the manual in a drawer. Sometimes we haul it around saying, “I’ll read it later.” We don’t. When the phone screws up, most of us don’t pull out the manual; we call customer service, stay on hold for an hour and ask an “expert” to tell us what’s on page 12 of the manual.

The Bible is the manual God has given us for life. It contains the principles and examples necessary for leading a complete, wise, holy, and excellent life. But, we lay it aside and say that we need newer perspectives and principles on which to build our lives. We say the Bible isn’t enough anymore.


Most of us who say that haven’t even read the Manual.

If you don’t think the Bible has anything to help you deal with your crazy boss and co-workers or how to make a successful career change, you haven’t studied Proverbs.

If you’re offended that all the Bible says about money is that you have to give some preacher 10% of your income, you’ve never read Leviticus or Deuteronomy for yourself. You’ve listened to us “experts,” but you’ve never read the manual to see that most of the money talk in the Bible is about the other 90% and how you handle that.

If you don’t see how the Bible can help you deal with your crazy friends, read it and compare your friendship with Pookie to Jehoshaphat’s friendship with Ahab in 2 Chronicles 18 & 19.

If you believe in God, but you’re not sure about the whole virgin birth, walking on water, coming back from the dead stuff; stop expecting enlightenment to fall out of the sky. Read the book for yourself. Stop depending on VeggieTales, televangelists, and chain emails to dictate your theology.

Read the Manual!

Start wherever you want. Go in whatever order you choose. But you need to read, to really study the Word of God for yourself. Go to Bible study and Sunday. Challenge your local customer service experts (your pastor and Bible teachers, I mean) to form a group for studying through the whole Book.

Read the Manual!

(At the very least, you’ll stop quoting song lyrics and saying, “You know the Good Book says…”)

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is the pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church.
541 Seibles Road, Montgomery, AL 36116 phone/ fax: 334-288-0577

Sunday, April 17, 2011


No one in the church is insignificant. Every servant of Christ and every ministry in His church is important and powerful---not least of all the ushers.
Learn the Biblical legacy of the keepers of the doors. Realize the depth of their ministry and the potential of their contribution to the gospel. And maybe get a couple of laughs in, too.

Listen well to this message delivered for Usher Appreciation Day for our friends Abraham Baptist Church.

Podcast Powered By Podbean
Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is the pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church.541 Seibles Road, Montgomery, AL 36116 phone/ fax: 334-288-0577

WHAT IS MY FOCUS? (A Sermon for Palm Sunday)

As I looked again and again at the full story of Palm Sunday in the 4 gospels, the Holy Spirit showed me a comparison I'd never considered before. Jesus' Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem was like a New Orleans jazz funeral. Depending on where you focus your attention, it could have looked like a parade or like a funeral procession.

Listen, and you'll see what I mean.

Podcast Powered By Podbean
Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is the pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church.
541 Seibles Road, Montgomery, AL 36116
phone/ fax: 334-288-0577

Sunday, April 3, 2011


In the church we give a lot of invitations. We invite people to visit us for worship, Bible study, & special programs. The preacher invites people to come to the altar and make a commitment. But most of the time most of our invitations go unanswered. Perhaps that is because of something fundamentally and spiritually wrong with the kinds of invitations we give.

John 1: 43-51 tells the story of a successful invitation, an invitation that changed a dude with an attitude problem into one of the 12 most important leaders of the church.

There’s more at stake than numbers and attendance stats. The principles of inviting are crucial to the mission of saving souls. Listen well and learn how to give THE RIGHT KIND OF INVITATION.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II
541 Seibles Road
Montgomery, AL 36116

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Proverbs 16: 9. Where Are You Going?

Proverbs 16: 9 A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 16: 9. Going into college, I had a plan that specifically excluded being a teacher. In school every opportunity tended to tutoring and revealed a love for sharing knowledge. Graduating w/ a degree in education, I had a plan that specifically excluded administration. I wanted to be in the trenches/ classroom, not stuck in an office. As a teacher I saw needs I couldn’t meet, I wanted to help my colleagues in ways I didn’t have the credentials to do. I had to become an administrator. Finishing my degree in administration I had a (very ambitious) plan for my education career that allowed for helping in church as long as I (haha) didn’t have to preach. Guess what God had to say about that? As a new preacher on trial/ in training I saw behind the scenes of what pastors have to deal with. I wrestled with the preacher’s path glad I was just a youth minister and planning how to serve that way forever. That is until the chance/ call to pastor came.

Like me, you’ve made plans for your life. If you’re a Christian, those plans were for good things, to do good things, to build a good life. You’ve given your heart to those plans and there’s nothing wrong with them. Maybe you’re going in exactly the life direction God wants you to go.

But maybe, you’re not headed to the life destinations you think.

(At least with me) God has a way of leading us where we think we’re going just so we can pick up the skills , experience, & connections we need to go where we’re really meant to be.

Don’t despair when you’re called to leave the desert and go back into Egypt (Moses). Don’t fear when you think you’re just delivering lunch and you end up fighting a giant (David). Don’t shrink back when you think you’re just gonna get married and build some chairs, but you end up having to rear and protect the Messiah (Joseph). Rejoice when you think you’re gonna run the family fishing business and you get called to leave it all, follow Jesus, and be an organizer of the church (Peter, Andrew, James, John). Tilt your chin up and get to work when instead of keeping your cushy job as the head-man’s personal assistant you have a burden to go back home and lead your folks in solving a community problem that’s been there for 100 years (Nehemiah).

When God changes your direction it doesn’t mean that your heart has been in the wrong place. It means that God’s heart has a bigger place for you to be.

1 Corinthians 2: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Road
Montgomery, AL 36116
phone/ fax: (334) 288-0577