By Angela M. Coggs
On Saturday, October 14, the San Bernardino Riverside Area Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. held their 4th Annual Prayer Breakfast at the Doubletree by Hilton in San Bernardino from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. This year’s theme was, “Breakthrough and Turn Around. It’s Your Season.” The keynote speaker was Bishop Johnny R. Withers, Jr., who founded and organized Unity Christian Fellowship on January 1, 1999, a non- denominational church, located in Compton, California.
The event began on time with an enthusiastic Call to Worship by Yolanda “Angel” Cohill. The room was filled with members from the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., friends, family, and members of other fraternities and sororities. For the Praise and Worship at the beginning of the morning, Jenny Kimball belted out a beautiful rendition of the gospel song, “Great and Mighty.” She was accompanied on piano/organ by Upland High School senior, Bennett Paysinger, Jr. who played way beyond his young age. Their combined talent was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise well air conditioned banquet room. An unassuming passerby would have thought they had just walked into a gospel choir at a crowed church.
Julie Wilson, President of the San Bernardino Riverside Area Alumnae Chapter, who will have celebrated their 60th anniversary in 2019, greeted the attendees with a warm welcome and an provided a brief introduction of the history of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. The sorority began on January 13, 1913 on the campus of Howard University by 22 brave and motivated African-American women. In realizing its mission, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. provides an extensive array of public service initiatives through its Five-Point Program Thrust of Economic Development, Educational Development, International Awareness and Involvement, Physical and Mental Health, and Political Awareness and Involvement.
When the opportunity to arose for Bishop Wilthers, Jr. to preach at the Prayer Breakfast on the theme of “Breakthrough and Turn Around. It’s Your Season,” he was elated. With a hopeful spirit, a steady vision, and a persistent faith, he was reminded the attentive audience to pursue God’s plans for one’s life. “I began to think about how in life we have the various seasons we go into. I understood it was a need for us to realize that God still has the ability to change a situation. Even if the season was a bad one, it can turn into a good one.” Perception is key. Withers continued, “The turnaround in that whole theme speaks to the fact that you may be in the season for now but you won’t be there for long. Changes happen so swiftly without you even knowing it.”
Withers challenged the room, filled with crimson and cream, to turn to their neighbors to and say, “My situation….can change.” His message focused on the need for a change to take place and to move away from situations that lacks growth and productivity. He further added, “God puts you ‘in the middle of the desert’ because He knows you have enough strength to work yourself out of it.” Adding that one must hold true to their faith and believe. “You know you are anointed by some of the things you had to go through.”
By the response occasional shouts of “amen” in the banquet room, his message seemed resonate with the attendees on a deep and personal level. Wither’s urged, “Be careful when you take a secular approach to a sanctified assignment.” He ended by encouraging the audience to take their hobby and turn it into a resource.
San Bernardino Riverside Area Alumnae Chapter member, Eleanor Clark-Thomas read a prayer, The Lord’s Prayer, which she indicated was given to her memorize by her mother/aunt when she was a youth. She learned it as a youth in the past but jokingly stated she wasn’t going to attempt to try it. She affectionately relied on her written script.
There was an amazing Mime Presentation portrayed by Maurice Piggue. His well-executed interpretative performance was deep and rich with an emotional and spiritual message. It was the perfect platform for translating the theme of the event. The recent California State University at Northridge graduate started mime dancing at church when he was a preteen. His performance received a well-deserved standing ovation.
The prayer for the nation and community was presented by Jennifer Barb, who eloquently reminded the attendees about the horrendous state of the nation today. She spoke about the senseless activities of the current president of the United States including the four failed attempts to dismantle Obama Care, constantly tweeting negative commentaries about anyone who disagrees with him or his proposed ideology, referring to the North Korean leader as “Rocket Man” and threatening potential war, firing nine government officials, a proposed tax break that would only benefit the top 1%-2% of the population, and most recently refusing to send aid to the hurricane ravished island of Puerto Rico etc. She quoted 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” We must pray for this president because “prayers changes things.”
“The event was well supported. We had a fantastic preacher. He delivered the message about how God could change one’s situation at any time,” said Julie Wilson, President of the San Bernardino Riverside Area Alumnae Chapter. “It was so timely given what many people are going through.” She was overjoyed with the large turnout of community members in addition to members from the sorority. “Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was founded on Christian principles, what better way to honor that foundation but to have a prayer breakfast. We host this event every year and we invite the public to attend, and come out and be blessed.”
The event ended with another inspirational performance from Kimball entitled, “Our God.” The attendees held hands and rejoiced in the message they received from Bishop Withers. A resounding echo filled the room, “It’s my season” after the presenters were presented with a token of appreciation for sharing their spirit, talent and time.
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated was founded by 22 undergraduate students on the campus of Howard University, in Washington DC, on January 13, 1913.