MINISTRY HISTORY, The Clergy Family Information Center
The Genesis of the Ministry: The Clergy Family Information Center began in 1999 as "A Special Project" of Mrs. Ora L. Easley, who served as the president of CONN-M-SWAWO + PK's from 1997-2005, and grew from a minuscule grouping of email recipients receiving communications containing the service arrangements of deceased family members of the organizational officers to the current email communication network, that post emails to Districts 1-20, inclusive of clergy families, non clergy families, offices of Episcopal Districts, offices of presiding elders, offices of AME Church institutions of higher learning, offices of chaplains and local churches.
Original Rationale: Pastors and other ministry leaders carry some of this world’s heaviest burdens comforting and guiding the spiritual lives of hundreds, if not thousands, as well as providing and caring for their families; and likewise, the families of ministers are called upon to make many sacrifices. Yet, here-to-fore, when those who had given so much made their earthy transitions, many only learned of their transitioning when their presence was missed at an AME Church gathering, or when names were lifted at the next session of the annual conference.
The Genesis of the Ministry Structure: In early 2004, during the winter meeting of the Council of Bishops, Bishop Richard Franklin Norris, then serving as Chair of the Commission on Social Action, shared with the president of CONN-M-SWAWO +PK'S, Mrs. Ora L. Easley, that the Bishops of the Church meeting in Council, were anxious to see her continue the ministry, ” The Special Project of the President" past her June 2005 term of office, with the ministry being given a different name and Mrs. Easley, given another title; serving not as an officer of CONN-M-SWAWO + PK’s, but as a component part of the Commission on Social Action; reporting to the Commission on Social Action. Humbled and honored by the request, an affirmative answer was given by Mrs. Easley. In July 2004 Bishop Carolyn Tyler Guidry became the Chair of the Commission on Social Action and in July of 2005 created the ministry name, “The Clergy Family Information Center” and the position title “Administrator.” Bishop Guidry also suggested the addition of the congratulatory component, which involved the posting of congratulatory announcements on Friday of each week.
Bishop Guidry worked tirelessly to secure operational funding for the ministry. Dr. Richard A. Lewis, Chief Financial Officer of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, was a blessing to the office operation of the ministry.
Legislation for The Clergy Family Information Center Passed, General Conference 2008: At the 2008 General Conference, under the leadership and guidance of Social Action Commission Chair, Bishop Carolyn Tyler Guidry, Mrs. Jackie DuPont Walker, Consultant / Director of Social Action submitted a bill for the ministry of The Clergy Family Information Center. The Bill was referenced as Bill MN-08. Intent: To add the Clergy Family Information Center and the duties of its Administrator to the Commission on Social Action; to add the Administrator as a Connectional Officer. Reference: PART VII – Section III; The General Board, Connectional Departments and Commissions; Commission on Social Action, page 200 (addendum to the Commission on Social Action) and Connectional Officers; Section III, page 588, Doctrine and Discipline of the AME Church, 2004 edition. Bill MN-08 passed. The Clergy Family Information Center is included in The Book of Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Church 2012, Pages 178-187, Section III, Connectional Comissions and Headquarters, Item #C , Social Action, Numbers 7-8.
Funding of the Ministry:
At the 2008 Winter Session of the General Board Meeting of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, under the esteemed leadership of Social Action Commission Chair, Bishop Carolyn Tyler Guidry, who was serving two unprecedented terms, funding was approved for The Clergy Family Information Center; funding ramification; an equitable distribution of the allocation for Social Action, among the principals.
The Ministry Continued It's Global Outreach: In January of 2010, the administrator of the Clergy Family Information Center constructed a web site, URL, www.amecfic.org:
- To make available necrology information, especially bereavements occurring within the Episcopal families and General Officers for annual conference statisticians who compile annual necrology reports.
- To spread the ministry message to a global audience via cyberspace.
Also, in 2010 the ministry became a part of the social networking community, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a Ministry Blog. In September 2010, the AMEC Clergy Family Information Center secured its own domain acronym, "Amecfic.net" to better serve the growing ministry and also secured a business Telecommunication account.
At the 49thQuadrennial Session of the General Conference held June 27, 2012 - July 4, 2012 at the Opryland Hotel, Nashville, Tennessee, Bishop Carolyn Tyler Guidry (122), who had served as Social Action Commission Chair for two unprecedented terms, retired from active service. At the meeting of the AME Church General Board following the closing session of the General Conference, Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, newly elected Bishop (132) was assigned as the Social Action Commission Chair.
The Clergy Family Information Center, with it's MISSION as a global online conduit of Compassion and Caring, continues it's growth and outreach under the leadership of Social Action Commission Chair, Bishop Reginald T. Jackson.
In 2015 the ministry added new dimensions to news posted, as more and more Episcopal District leadership asked that the ministry carry news of their District Meetings. Episcopal District pictorial announcements were frequently posted by the CFIC. Institutions of higher learning also requested that the anniversary events of the AME Church Universities and Seminaries be added within the ministry posting guidelines.
At the 50thQuadrennial Session of the General Conference held in Philadelphia, PA July 6-13, 2016, Bishop Frank Madison Reid, III, newly elected Bishop number 138, was assigned as the Social Action Commission Chair.
Under the visionary and challenging leadership of Bishop Frank Madison Reid, III, the CFIC continues to make technological advances in its email posting procedures and adding more "eye appeal" to the communications, using graphics and borders. In February 2017, we began posting (1) photo with each congratulatory announcement and statements of gratitude from clergy families can now be posted each week on Thursday, for those who wish to express gratitude to the Connectional AME Church family for kindnesses shown during their season of bereavement.
At the 2016 Winter Meeting of the Council of Bishops and General Board Meeting an Electronic Protocol was approve; the CFIC per The Doctrine and Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Church 2012, posting regulations were re-defined as “emailing bereavement related notifications and congratulatory announcements.”
In February 2017, began sharing Statements of Gratitude from clergy families may be posted each week on Thursday, for those who wish to express gratitude to the Connectional AME Church family for kindnesses shown during their season of bereavement.
In April of 2017, the Editor of the Christian Recorder began placing the bereavement notices and congratulatory announcements in the Christian Recorder, giving the ministry information, a wider readership.
Where do we go from here, under the dynamic and insightful leadership of Commission Chair, Bishop Reid, III? As with its inception, the Clergy Family Information Center "will go where the Will of God leads."
“Step out on faith, embrace the impossible. Walk in the vision of God, and be assured that when God gives you a vision, He also has provisions which are already waiting for you."