It’s First Lady Friday Featuring…Darline McElroy, First Lady of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Forney, Texas!

Hello World,

During Women’s History Month 2019, I’ve launched a new interview series featuring First Ladies! 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, which are revered positions particularly in the black church. 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 periodically, on a Friday of course, I am 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!

So with that being said, let me present to some and introduce to others the First Lady of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church Darline McElroy!

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

Darline Amos-McElroy grew up in Leland, Mississippi. After graduating from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, she settled in Dallas, Texas. Darline served in education where the storyline for I Ate the Cake: A Journey for Justice began. As a school counselor, Darline followed the responsibilities. As a servant of Jesus Christ, she followed the purpose of His calling. Darline resides with her husband, Pastor Robert B. McElroy and her four children in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas. I Ate the Cake: A Journey for Justice is Darline’s debut book.

1.How do you feel about the term “First Lady?”

When my husband, Pastor Robert B. McElroy, and I accepted the call to Mt. Zion, we agreed to use the term Pastor’s wife. I equated “First Lady” as a position to be highly regarded as someone worthy of different treatment than others. However, my preference is to be one with people of God, so most often, I am referred to as Minister Darline, the Pastor’s wife, or simply my name. I have learned that the term is also one of endearment; therefore, I am not offended by the term as it is a tradition for many. In truth, the Pastor’s wife is set apart, so the choice of terminology doesn’t override expectations and responsibilities.

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

I chuckled when I heard this question, and one word came to my mind, all-encompassing. The First Lady is a wife first. With her love for her husband and wanting the best for him, she will do what supports him, whether cleaning the restrooms to leading praise and worship songs. The job description is different in each church depending on the available people and resources. The Pastor’s wife will also have a desire, like many Christians, to use her God-given gifts and talents. The description will evolve as the Pastor’s wife, or First Lady learns who she is in Christ. The most important is to support the Pastor’s vision and maintain balance within herself and for her family.

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

The best part is to assist my husband in creating a welcoming church culture for God’s people. My nature is to care, encourage, and protect, which many members need when coming in from a world that can be cruel. My training as a counselor assists me in the role of First Lady. My desire for each child and adult is for each person to reach their God-designed plans. God has placed me in a position to help others when needed. The worst part is learning balance. Mt. Zion is our first church where we have served as leaders. I can be a very driven person, so I tend to go “all in,” which can lead to energy and emotional depletion especially having my own family and career. However, I have very supportive members who often encourage both my husband and myself to slow down. I think I have reached a point of understanding.

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

The Pastor and his wife as human and have personal struggles. We are not above life as many believe. When we experience problems, it is exceptionally delicate, and often, we have no one to call on safely to release emotionally. Being a “First Lady” can be daunting if you regard yourself as above others. Self-perception is crucial. If I am one with the people, then I am just like others needing Christ to forgive my sins, give strength, and fulfill my life’s purposes. I realize that people have misconceptions; however, many have misconceptions about the uniqueness of being a Christian. For this reason, I remind myself often that I walk in the freedom of Christ, and my walk, actions, etc will help those misconceptions to change eventually.

5. How has your church transitioned during the COVID-19 pandemic and how has the transition affected your church? 

With the assistance of the church ministers, the church has transitioned well. My husband became ill during the early onset of the pandemic, and the ministers helped to transition the church. Initially, we used the phone lines that we use weekly for prayer. We are now using Zoom for Wednesday night Bible study and Sunday morning church service. Each week more members are getting involved. Our women and men groups also meet by Zoom once a month. The Pastor and the board members are working on a building project. With God’s favor, the church is doing well.

6. You worked in the field of education for many years but recently wrote the book I Ate the Cake: A Journey for Justice. Why did you decide to write a book and how did you come up with this interesting title?

Yes, I am a former school counselor and now a licensed professional counselor with an agency, having started Ellipsis Counseling Services. I decided to write the book for three reasons. First, I wrote, “at God’s word.” We see in the gospel of Luke 5:5 that Simon Peter was unsuccessful in his career. Jesus sends him back and tells him to drop the net. The summer I sought help from the district leaders, God told me to keep notes and records. I shared with one of my sisters on a road trip that God was leading me to write a book about the school district’s experiences. Writing the book was my response to God saying, “drop the net.” If placed in God’s hands, every talent or gift we have will capture people’s hearts and lead them to a place of encouragement, peace, or direction.

I also wrote because of Isaiah 30:8, “Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness.” God encouraged and instructed Isaiah to write so that the children of God would realize that the writing would serve as a witness to their rebellion once God decided to act. In other words, it could not be said, “we didn’t know or didn’t understand.” As Christian, we are to serve God’s purposes in every life area, including our careers.

Lastly, I wrote the book because it has always been my desire to publish. I Ate the Cake: A Journey for Justice gave me excellent writing material. It is a testimony I never anticipated, and writing the memoir helped me release emotions and understand why God allowed these troubles to be on my journey. As for the title, the story tells the reason. At some point in life, we are all forced or tricked into taking a bite of things intended for harm, but God will turn it around.

7. What do you hope readers will learn from your book? 

My hope is readers will understand the importance of standing up for righteousness and allowing God to work through us daily. My prayer is that the memoir teaches we will have troubles in life, and not all of the problems are self-inflicted. Many issues come as an opportunity to do God’s work and honor His command to “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it” ( Genesis 1:28 NIV). We use God’s strength to accomplish “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” (Matthew 6:10 NIV). Furthermore, I want readers to see that the Pastor’s wife or First Lady struggles to honor God just like others. I shared authentic lessons I had to learn as a follower of Christ. At the end of the day, we all walk the same road, trying to please God.

Any thoughts?

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! And if you would like to have conversations about faith, relationship, pop culture and more, please click on this link to subscribe to my blog 🙂!

Michelle Williams, formerly of Destiny’s Child, to Release Book ‘Checking In’ About Her Journey with Mental Health & Wellness…

Hello World,

According to PublishersMarketplace.com, Michelle Williams, formerly of Destiny’s Child, will be releasing a book entitled Checking In (Nelson Books), which will be an account of her journey with mental health and wellness. The topics to be addressed in this book have been a long time coming, and I hope this announcement means that Michelle has received some healing in these areas (otherwise why write the book, right?). I believe the last post I wrote about Michelle was 3 Reasons Why I’m Glad Michelle Williams & Pastor Chad Johnson Are Reportedly ‘Working on Things!” I was really disappointed when Michelle and Pastor Chad broke off their engagement, and from watching their short-lived OWN reality series Chad Loves Michelle, I believe the reason had to do with Michelle’s mental health and wellness. Reportedly, her book will debut in May 2021. I will be getting a copy. (And let’s hope the book is dedicated to her once again fiancé Pastor Chad, but no reality show this time, ‘K thanks 🙂 ) What about you?

Any thoughts?

 

 

 

Associate Pastor Khristi Lauren Adams Releases ‘Parable of the Brown Girl’ in Time for Black History Month! (GIVEAWAY)

Hello World,

As you know, I.LOVE.BOOKS! And I’m a sucker for an intriguing title so when an email about an upcoming release Parable of the Brown Girl: The Sacred Lives of Girls of Color showed up in my inbox, I knew I had to share with you my dear After the Altar Call readers! And if you are intrigued, you can win a free copy of this timely book! Below is a synopsis followed by my Q&A with Kristin Lauren Adams, author and associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, New Jersey. (My Greenleaf folk know I love a female pastor as well 🙂 )

The stories of girls of color are often overlooked, unseen, and ignored rather than valued and heard. In Parable of the Brown Girl (adult nonfiction), readers are introduced to the resilience, struggle, and hope held within these stories. Instead of relegating these young women of color to the margins, Adams brings their stories front and center where they belong.

By sharing encounters she’s had with girls of color that revealed profound cultural, historical and spiritual truths, Adams magnifies the struggles, dreams, wisdom, and dignity of these voices.Thought-provoking and inspirational, Parable of the Brown Girl is a powerful example of how God uses the narratives we most often ignore to teach us the most important lessons in life. It’s time to pay attention.

1. Where did you grow up and live now?

I grew up in East Brunswick, NJ. I have lived a few places; California, Washington, D.C, Virginia. Now I actually both live and work in Pottstown, PA at a boarding school called The Hill School. When I’m not at The Hill, I’m back in NJ with my family in East Brunswick. So, I like to say I live in both places; East Brunswick and Pottstown.

2. What is your education/career background?

I went to Temple University for my undergrad. There I majored in Advertising because I had big hopes of becoming an advertising exec and working on Wall Street. While I was there, I explored my faith much more and got involved in campus ministry. I decided I wanted to go into ministry during that time. I went to work as a youth specialist for my church’s Community Development Corporation for 2 years after college and then applied to seminary. I only applied to one seminary, which was Princeton Seminary where I wound up going.

I obtained a Master of Divinity from there and upon graduating went back to my church (First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens), but this time to serve as a Youth Pastor. I stayed there 3 years and then moved to Southern California and accepted a position at Azusa Pacific University as an Associate Campus Pastor for Preaching and Spiritual Programming.

After 4 years there I moved back to the East Coast and took a position at Georgetown University as a Chaplain in Residence and an Interim Protestant Chaplain at Georgetown Law Center. I loved DC, but eventually moved back to NJ to help out at my home church as an Associate Pastor for a few years and then wound up getting the position I’m currently in as Firestone Endowment Chaplain and Instructor of Religious Studies at The Hill School. I recently got into a Masters in Clinical Counseling program with Capella University that I plan to start in the Spring. I think it makes sense that I get a second Masters and look towards becoming a licensed clinician, particularly since a great deal of my work is in the emotional and spiritual health of youth and young adults.

3. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? Or what first inspired you to write?

I used to enjoy writing plays and poetry when I was in college. I enjoyed seeing writing come to life on stage. I never thought about writing books until my Pastor (Buster Soaries) wrote his first book and one day said to me in casual conversation, “You know you should write a book.” I remember telling him that I didn’t have anything to write about and didn’t feel like I was an expert in anything. He said, “You write about what you know.” That stuck with me. At the time I didn’t think I knew anything, but I realized that I know what I know from my own experiences. It wasn’t long after that conversation that I wrote my first book.

4. What inspired your book?

My inspiration is the dedication to my book: “For all the black girls who courageously shared their story, their wisdom and their truths with me. Society may put you on the margins, but you are at the center of God’s heart.” The book is written for the black girls who have been unable to give voice to their lived experiences. I say this because I have had many conversations and crossed paths with many black girls who have so much to offer the world, but the world refuses to listen to or see them. I promised myself that if I were ever given the platform, I would place these girls at the center.

5. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

I was amazed by how consistent many of their struggles are with the stories I have heard from other black girls and women inter-generationally. I recognize their struggles and experiences in my own life. As I walked through the Smithsonian African-American History Museum and read about the lives of other black women and girls dating back to the 1500s, the cultural similarities were astonishing. Young black women in contemporary society are confronted with similar issues as many of those who have come before them.

6. What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I love to spend time with family and friends and playing with my dog, Daisy. I used to love training for and running half-marathons. I haven’t had a chance to train since I started working at The Hill School, but I’d love to get back into that at some point. Right now, I work out at a gym called Corefit and I like to do strength training a few times a week there.

7. Do you have a bucket list? What are some of the things on it?

I want to eat pizza in Italy. I’d like to go back to West Africa. I want to meet Oprah. I want to go to Essence Music Fest. I want to be a guest on Black Girls Rock. That about sums it up 🙂

Khristi Lauren Adams is the Firestone Endowment Chaplain, instructor of religious studies and philosophy, and co-director of Diversity at the Hill School in Pottstown, PA. Previously, she worked as Interim Protestant Chaplain at Georgetown University Law Center & Georgetown University, Associate Campus Pastor for Preaching & Spiritual Programming at Azusa Pacific University, and former Director of Youth Ministries at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, NJ. Khristi is also the Founder & Director of “The Becoming Conference” that began summer 2017, which is an annual conference designed to empower, educate & inspire girls ages of 13-18.

Khristi is a graduate of Temple University with a degree in Advertising and a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary where she obtained a Master of Divinity. Khristi is also currently an Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens. Her ministry and youth advocacy have been featured on CNN and her work has appeared in Huffington Post, Off the Page, and the Junia Project. When not in residence at The Hill School, she lives in East Brunswick, New Jersey.

For more information about Kristi, go to khristilaurenadams.com.

The first person to comment on this blog post will receive a free copy of Parable of the Brown Girl! Once you comment, I will comment and ask you to email your contact information to me!

Any thoughts?