It’s First Lady Friday Featuring…Dr. Elaine Gattis, First Lady of Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Stockbridge, Georgia!

Hello World,

Since it’s Women’s History Month, I’ve decided to launch a new feature I’ve been thinking about for a while now…In thinking about my mother who was the First Lady of Central Christian Church in Atlanta, Georgia for 38 years before my father retired in 2017 and after reading Kimberla Lawson Roby’s final Rev. Curtis Black book “Better Late Than Never” which explored Charlotte’s desire to not be a typical First Lady, it dawned on me that I should feature First Ladies. Everyone is always talking about what the pastor of this church and that church is doing, but First Ladies are equally as important as the pastors to whom they are married! So once per month, on a Friday of course, I will be featuring a First Lady. So if you know of a First Lady who should be featured, please e-mail me at jacqueline@afterthealtarcall.com because I’m looking for notable First Ladies to feature!

Now that my introduction is complete, let me present to some and introduce to others the First Lady of Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Stockbridge, Georgia, Dr. Elaine Gattis…

Below is her biography followed by my interview with her. Read, enjoy and share!

Dr. Gattis, a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, is an educator, author, speaker and ordained minister of the Gospel who holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the California State University, East Bay, a master of divinity degree from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, and a doctor of ministry degree from the Morehouse School of Religion at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. She is affiliate faculty of ministry at Ohio Christian University’s Morrow, Georgia campus. She also serves as the executive pastor of Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Stockbridge, Georgia, where her husband, Reverend Dr. Terrance Gattis serves as the senior pastor. The couple, who married in July 2009, are parents to a blended family of four grown children.

1. How do you feel about the term “First Lady” and is Mt. Olive Baptist Church the first church where you have served as First Lady?

I don’t have any strong feelings about the term “First Lady.” I recognize that it is nothing more than a term for a pastor’s wife that is culturally used in African-American churches more often than others.

Mt. Olive is actually the second church where I have served as First Lady.  My husband founded a church and had been a pastor for a few years when we met.  However, he was called to serve as senior pastor of Mt. Olive Baptist Church about five months after we were married.  Nevertheless, Mt. Olive is the first traditional church where I have served as First Lady.

2. What is the “job description” of a First Lady?

Depending on the context of the church, the job of a First Lady may vary. Traditionally, she is perceived as a woman of authority and respect as she is sometimes considered a spiritual leader or spiritual mother (depending on age and tenure) of the church. She may lead the women’s ministry, host women’s events, teach Sunday School and more.  But sometimes First Ladies are viewed superficially as the pastor’s wife who sits on the third row, dressed to the nines with the biggest and best hat in the church.  To some, the role of a First Lady is seemingly a position of glamour and prestige.

Today, the role of the pastor’s wife is more varied.  Many of us are co-pastors, associate pastors, or have prosperous ministries of our own.  We are not simply symbols of the position and status of our husbands.  Rather, we are building our own ministries, we are business women, ministerial entrepreneurs, authors, speakers, theology professors, thinkers and problem solvers, and we are gifted and called to do great things for God’s kingdom.

Ultimately, there is no biblical mandate for a pastor’s wife that is any different than that of any other wife.  There is, however, a mandate for those of us who are called according to the purposes of God, and that is to make our calling and election sure, as instructed in 1 Peter 1:10.  Before marrying a pastor, I was clear that I had purpose in God and a calling from God.  My goal is, and has always been, to stay true to that purpose and calling regardless of who I am married to.  Therefore, rather than allow the term or position to define me or box me into superficial roles, at the end of the day I have sought to shape perspectives of what it means to be a current-day woman in ministry, irrespective of whether or not your husband happens to be clergy.

3. What is the best part and what is the worst part about being a First Lady?

The best part about being a First Lady is the opportunity to serve in ministry with my husband.  Ministry is challenging and difficult enough when you are in it alone but to share the same passion for God and ministry with my husband is a true blessing.

On the other hand, while the First Lady is often the most popular woman in the church, it is ironically a very lonely position.  It is difficult to maintain a social life in addition to juggling family, work, and ministry.  Furthermore, a pastor’s job never ends, which makes quality time together, outside of ministry very challenging.  While I am not employed by the church as my husband is, we are both bi-vocational, in the sense that we have full-time jobs in addition to the work of the ministry, and it is often a challenge to find quality time for each other.

4. What are some misconceptions that people have about being a First Lady?

Some misconceptions about First Ladies is that we are simply figure heads who are not strategically involved in the advancement of the church. Because of these misconceptions, her contributions to the ministry are sometimes underappreciated and un-affirmed which can lead to burn-out and resentment toward the church.

5. You are also executive pastor at Mt. Olive Baptist Church. Do you feel that a First Lady should be a co-pastor at her husband’s church? Please explain your answer.

I don’t feel that a First Lady has to be a co-pastor at her husband’s church.  I think that she needs to be who God has called her to be whether that is an usher, a praise team leader, an associate pastor or a mission’s coordinator.  Some wives will have no interest in serving in the pulpit and that is quite fine. However, a problem that I recognize with traditional churches is that they don’t provide a platform for wives called to ordained ministry to be fully and effectively employed in ministry alongside their husbands.

In churches founded by a husband and wife (also known as planted churches) there is freedom to determine your roles and to both be fully compensated accordingly.  However, traditional churches are not typically structured in a manner that accommodates husband and wife ministry teams.  They simply hire one senior pastor to fill the position and all other clergy are volunteers unless the church has the resources to employ a ministerial staff.  Still, there is no guarantee that there would be an available staff position for the pastor’s wife.

6. You are from California. What is it like to live across the country from where you were born and raised? What do you miss about California and what do you enjoy about Georgia?

I moved to Georgia in 2006 because I received a word from God to “go to a place that I will show you.”  When I moved here, I had no concept of how long I would be here.  Thirteen years later, I am still here, and living apart from my family has been the most challenging aspect of living in Georgia.  Needless to say, my family is what I miss most about California.

Georgia has been good to me. It has served as my Promised Land.  It is where I met my husband, the love of my life, and where much of my growth and success in ministry has been realized.  Living here has been like an adventure that never ends.

7. You are a contributing author in the best-selling anthology “Women Who Soar.” What did you write about in your submission? 

In “Women Who Soar,” I wrote about my faith-filled journey of packing up everything I owned and moving over 2,000 miles away from home and all that I knew and loved to a place where I faced many obstacles and challenges.  However, by standing on the Word that God planted in my spirit, I found the strength and courage that I needed to realize my God-given purpose and to grab hold of the promises of God.  Ultimately, by taking a leap of faith, I was able to soar into my destiny!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

My prayer for women in ministry and for wives of clergy, is that you discern the ministry that God has for you and follow hard after your God given purpose.  Know and be confident in who you are in Christ. Know that there is purpose for your life and remember that the “joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10c)!

Amen…Again, if you know of a First Lady who should be featured, please e-mail me at jacqueline@afterthealtarcall.com because I’m looking for notable First Ladies to feature!

Any thoughts?

Why ‘Insecure’ Actress Yvonne Orji is Right To Be Happy Following Her Breakup With Emmanuel Acho…

Hello World,

Insecure actress Yvonne Orji is not my friend in real life, but she is my friend in my head for many reasons. I interviewed the Christian actress for THE LOOKOUT in 2017, and I really admired her stance on virginity. This is what she told me:

“From the time I was 17 until now that I’m 33 going on 34, I’ve seen too much. I’ve seen the hand of God over the years in my life, and this one thing that he asks of me. I mean he asks many things of us. But this one thing [virginity] that is a roadblock for so many people, he’s been so faithful to me in the darkest of my days, it’s no biggie.”

Although I am married now, I was single for several years before then and I know her struggle. Also, since Yvonne is a first generation American born of Nigerian parents, I identify with her on that topic as well. My parents are Jamaican, but I was born in America. She has even created a show based on her experience as a first generation American. Below is more about her show:

Aside from this series, Yvonne is also developing her own half-hour sitcom, FirstGen, which is executive produced by media mogul Oprah Winfrey and actor David Oyelowo. Semibiographical, the show features a Nigerian girl who drops out of medical school for a stand-up comedy career and the shenanigans that ensue after her strict African mother discovers her plans. “This is my vision so it’s a very family-friendly show.”

If you would like to read the entire story, go to lookoutmag.com.

So in July 2018 when I learned that Yvonne had a new boyfriend after openly expressing her desire to meet her mate, I was hoping he was the one and wrote a happy blog post about it – Christian Actress Yvonne Orji Shares Prayer She Used to Attract Her New Boyfriend Emmanuel Acho! Emmanuel seemed like he could be the one she was waiting for…I mean his name means Messiah first of all and he is a Christian! And then they had the Nigerian connection. His father is from Nigeria. Also, although he works as an ESPN analyst, he has an artistic side as he can sing and play the piano! And on top of all of that, both are committed to charitable causes. Yvonne worked in Liberia with Population Services International, and Emmanuel worked in Nigeria with Living Hope Christian Ministries! And to put it all together in a pretty package, as a former Philadelphia Eagles’ linebacker, her man was all swole and stuff! When Yvonne announced their relationship on Instagram, she even said, “Jesus out here answering prayers on a Sunday.” He did seem like the answer to prayer…

But Yvonne Orji recently told her friend and author Luvvie Ajayi, who also has Nigerian heritage, on their Jesus and Jollof podcast that Emmanuel is no longer her man. Yvonne and Emmanuel have broken up. This is what she said about it, according to madamenoire.com:

“I just have to say, the reason I am so good and so happy is because I know how God works,” she said. “I have seen God’s MO so many times, that like in the way that you can be like, ‘Aw man, I thought this was it! I thought this was the one!’ God be like, ‘Oh that’s what you thought? I got the goods for you.’ It happened in my career when someone offered me a show and I was like, ‘This is it!’ and then the show went to nowhere. I got borderline depressed. Cut to Insecure. Cut to my life has changed.”

I believe Yvonne is right. Emmanuel may have been the prototype, but the finished product is on the way…and soon too…I’ve seen God do this many times in many areas of my life as well…But as it relates to romantic relationships…I remember in November 2009. I was despondent after yet another relationship blew up in my face…I had suffered through many breakups before but this one really took me out. This particular boyfriend/manfriend (I mean he was in his 30s at the time…) was one who I had dated before. When we first dated, he told me that he did not want to have a relationship. I wasn’t happy with his stance, but I respected his honesty. We remained friends for years. And then he changed his mind. My feelings hadn’t changed and I was available. It was so on until it wasn’t…It seemed cosmically cruel for life to play out that way…

But February 2010, the week of Valentine’s Day, I went out on a first date with the man who would become my husband…It was literally months after the breakup…Nothing but God…And if He did it for me, He can do it for you…

So Yvonne you better be happy because I am claiming on your behalf that the one worth waiting for is on the way!

Any thoughts?

 

Viral Older Couple Murphy & Lucinda Wilson Appear on ‘STEVE’ & More Valentine’s Day News…

Hello World,

Happy Valentine’s Day Y’all! As has been said, “You Can’t Hurry Love, No You’ll Just Have to Wait.” After deciding that I most definitely wanted to get married in 2003 (and telling God to show up right then), I had to wait until Valentine’s Day weekend 2010 to go out on a first date with the man who would become my husband in 2013! (Happy First Date Anniversary to US) That’s seven years of waiting if you’re paying attention!

And some have to wait even longer than that…Two years ago, the joyful engagement photos of an older Alabama couple Murphy Wilson and Lucinda Wilson, who are both in their 70s, went viral likely because their story proves that love can happen at any age! Lucinda, who had been divorced for 30 years, was able to find love again when she met Murphy, whose wife had died in 2013, at their church…

Below is an excerpt of their story from their engagement photographer Gianna Snell’s website…

Lucinda Myers, a florist and baker, moved to Huntsville, AL in July 2013, the same month that Murphy returned to church. Myers is originally from Boston, which coincidentally is also Murphy’s hometown. Having been divorced and single for 30 years, she had been praying and waiting for God to send her a husband. And although the wait was difficult, and she had moments of saying out loud, “God, where is he?”…she kept on praying and doing the things that made her happy, such as cake decorating, babysitting and helping others. She moved to Huntsville for a fresh start.

Each Saturday, Lucinda sat in the balcony on the front row at church while Murphy was one row behind. For over 3 years, they both occupied the same space in church but didn’t have any interaction with each other. Murphy had made it up in his mind that he was not going to talk to anyone because he really wanted God to do the choosing.

But one day, something caught his eye… “It was her hair,” he said. “And then she turned around, and Man…she’s got this smile. She was very attractive…I just couldn’t stop looking at her.”

Still not saying a word to her from week to week, Murphy became more and more intrigued by this woman… so much so that a nearby church member caught Murphy staring at Lucinda one day. After church, the woman approached Lucinda and told her that she had a secret admirer in the balcony. Lucinda was shocked because she’d had no interaction with him, so she emphatically said, “Well if he is admiring me, he has to come to me. I’m certainly not chasing any man.”

To read the whole story, go to giannasnellphotography.com.

The couple told their love story to Steve Harvey on his show STEVE earlier this month. Check out the video below!

And if you find yourself engaged today and live in the metro Atlanta area, but don’t have the money to get married or other circumstances have prevented you and your love from tying the knot, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church is FREE City Wide Wedding during their 9:30 AM Worship Service on Sunday, Feb. 24!  Now, pre-marital counseling is required for 2 sessions in their Multi-Purpose Room in order to obtain a Marriage Certificate from New Birth. And two sessions will be held THIS Saturday February 16 from 10:30 AM – 2:30 PM and THIS Sunday, February 17 12:30 PM – 3:00 PM! For more information, go to newbirth.org.

Also, if you are single today, you can get free wings at Hooters! From Thrillist: It’s true. Head to the famously skimpy restaurant on February 14, and you can partake in its annual “Shred Your Ex” event. Buy 10 wings, rip up a photo of your ex, and you’re going to land 10 boneless wings for free. As Jimmy Durante would say, “Hot cha cha.” If having to step over the waggling tongues of drooling pubescent teens isn’t your idea of a good time on a lonely Valentine’s Day, you can shred exes online. After you tear your former partner to pieces, you’ll get a digital coupon and can order some wings to take back to your empty apartment. Though if you do it at a restaurant, the pictures go into a shredder, which will truly impress the teens at the table next to yours. Teens love shredders!

Finally, whether you’re hitched or single and just love a good love story any time of the year, one of my favorite authors Kim Cash Tate is a launching a new web series “CLING” on You Tube. Premiering March 9, A New Love Story. It’s time to cling to your First Love. Shiloh ‘Rikki’ Stevens has a thriving ministry inspiring countless women to cling to God. But as her personal life crumbles, she finds herself holding on to God for dear life . . . and sometimes losing a grip. Created and written by Kim Cash Tate. Directed by Will Thomas. See the trailer above!

Any thoughts?