The St. Petersburg Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. held their annual prayer breakfast April 13 at the Carillon Hilton Hotel with Pastor Craig L. Oliver, Ph.D. (left) as the keynote speaker. (Top) Dr. Shameka Jones and (Bottom) Janette Spencer-Davis
BY FRANK DROUZAS, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG – The St. Petersburg Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. held their annual prayer breakfast April 13 to a packed room donning the color red. The prayer breakfast serves as the chapter’s signature fundraiser, which sustains educational scholarships, youth initiatives and community outreach programs.
“We believe that our scholarships and public service contributions are an investment in the future of our young people, our local community and aboard,” said event co-chair Nevida Adams.
Mistress of ceremony and past president of the Tampa Alumnae Chapter, Janette Spencer-Davis, made her way across the bridge and kept the program moving with her vivacious personality, wit and charm.
As the crowd enjoyed their breakfast, 18-year-old saxophonist Jordan Bolds serenaded the room with a sound well beyond his years. Other anointed filled entertainment included Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church’s praise dancing team Pure Expression, and musical guests Valerie Houston and Andrea Mixon made sure that the Holy Spirit filled the Carillon Hilton Hotel.
Upon introducing her husband and keynote speaker for the morning, Chi’Ira Oliver repeated a succinct line that Pastor Craig L. Oliver, Ph.D. uses to describe his journey: “From St. Petersburg, Fla., I came to Atlanta, Ga., with a bible in one hand and a high school diploma in the other.'”
He’s been a busy man since leaving his hometown. Dr. Oliver became the pastor of Elizabeth Baptist Church at the age of 21 and has seen the hand of God expand His church by more than 16,000 and five locations within the metro Atlanta area.
Speaking on the theme of “Anchoring Our Hearts in Love,” Oliver said that the greatest deficiency that we suffer from throughout our world is a deficiency of love. This deficiency in our society has caused relationships to rupture and institutions to be torn asunder. One of the causes of this, he continued, is covetousness, or the desire to have what others have and doing whatever it takes to obtain.
Another cause is competitiveness, a disposition to outperform, to out-achieve, to outdo another person, “at any and all costs.”
“This negative competition is when we compete with others in such a way that we want to win at the expense of other people,” Oliver pointed out. “In other words, our success is predicated on their failure.”
Conceitedness is another impediment to love, Oliver explained. An arrogant person has an air about them that says, “I feel that I’m better than you and you’re beneath me.” Wherever there’s an attitude of covetousness, competitiveness or conceitedness, it always interferes with one’s capacity to love.
What are the habits or characteristics of love, asked the pastor. He paraphrased the Apostle Paul by saying it is the conscious decision to love another person no matter what.
“Love is patient,” he quoted the well-known scripture, “love is kind,” adding that though the world is oftentimes a very unkind and unfriendly place, the Apostle Paul said that people of the faith community and people of the community of humanity should be known by love.
Love has the disposition of kindness, recognizing that kindness has the medicine that can heal a broken heart. And love does not envy, does not boast and is not proud, Oliver said.
“Envy is a poison that eventually consumes a person who chooses to harbor it in his or her heart,” said the Omega Psi Phi brother.
Boasting always causes you to exaggerate and to display who you want people to think that you are, the pastor noted, but love is not only that absence of envy and the absence of boasting–love also is not proud.
Each of you should look not only for your own interest but also for the interest of others, Oliver urged. We should not neglect ourselves, but neither should we seek our own advantage at the detriment of others.
Oliver further quoted the Bible by explaining that love does not keep records of wrong. Some people keep a “file cabinet” in their minds of all your mistakes and your sins, he said, waiting for a day to remind you of them.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m thankful that God doesn’t keep a black file cabinet,” the pastor said, to chuckles and applause.
Love always stand for that which is right; love always protects, love always trusts, love always looks for the better that is beyond the bleak, Oliver said.
“At the end of the day, love does not fail,” he said. “It perseveres.”
Love only happens when you love God completely, he stressed, and when you love God completely, you can love yourself correctly.
“Perhaps one of the greatest problems we see in society is an absence of self-love,” Oliver postulated.
And only when you love yourself can you can love others compassionately.
“People can never pass on love,” he said, “if they don’t have self-love!”
Pastor Shawn Thomas, youth pastor at Mt. Zion Progressive, was on hand to offer up prayers for the family unit, and the well-being of the nation.
“God, we pray to you for the structure and stability of families all over of this world,” he implored. “As the family goes, so does the society. I ask God that You will strengthen families.”
The morning ended with the presentation of scholarships to college-bound students to help alleviate some of the financial burdens that come with higher education, as well as to honor their achievements throughout their high school careers.
To reach Frank Drouzas, email firstname.lastname@example.org