ST. PETERSBURG— The 26th annual Men’s Day got underway Sunday, June 26 as members of New Faith Free Methodist Church and guess filled the pews.
“There has been a strong spirit among the men to lead by example in reaching their goals,” said Rev. Curtiss L. Long, who has served as senior pastor of New Faith for the past 26 years.
The theme of this year’s service: “Men and Women teaching our Youth to be Men and Women of Faith.” (Titus 2: 1-8)
“We selected a theme that would address the violence plaguing the community surrounding this church and throughout this city. This particular Men’s day is really a call of action to our men to be leaders our young men can look up to,” said Joe Washington, the Men’s Day 2016 committee chair.
The annual event consisted of two services with Corey Givens, Jr., president of the Pinellas County Democratic Black Caucus, serving as guest speaker for the morning, and Rev. Wayne Fletcher, associate minister at New Bethel Baptist Church in Sarasota, being the guest speaker for the afternoon.
Lou Brown, Jr. has presided over the annual service for the 26th consecutive year.
“The only way I would miss this day is if I was dead and gone,” he joked. “This is a standing celebration for me every year.”
Mike Yates, former mayor of Gulfport, read scripture at the morning service, and Lieutenant Joshua Stone of the Gulfport Police Department delivered remarks about combatting youth violence in our neighborhoods.
The day was a special one, especially for the congregants who dress up in blue and white, this year’s color theme. Selected by the Men’s Day Committee, Co-Chair Samuel Smith said the colors were chosen to celebrate one of the community service award recipients, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. was founded on the campus of Howard University in 1914, and was established on the high ideals of: brotherhood, scholarship and service to humanity.
Givens Jr., who also serves as secretary of the St. Petersburg Chapter of Phi Beta Simga, delivered a rousing address to the packed church. He charged the crowd to get involved in the life of every child in the community.
“How many times in the last year has this city lost a child at the hands of another child? How many times have our hearts stopped in the middle of the night with the sound of a gunshot or a siren? How many teenagers have we seen hanging around on street corners when they should be sitting in a classroom?”
In their typical fashion, New Faith’s Culinary Ministry prepared a full-course Sunday supper for their members and visitors, immediately following the mid-morning service.
2016 Community Service Award Recipients include: Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc; Pinellas County School Board Member Rene Flowers; Pastor Martin Rainey, Jemel Williams, Brenda Dunbar and Beth Lynn Woodard.