HISTORY OF THE USHER FELLOWSHIP

OF THE

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF THE CHURCH OF GOD

 

In the year 1939, the first meeting of the National Usher Fellowship was Held at the Detroit Church of God, Detroit, Michigan. The church was then located at Chaney and Jay Streets, Rev. Charles White was pastor.

Mrs. Bessie Wilson, Rev. C.A. Craig, and a few others saw the need for more efficient ushering at our National Conventions and volunteered their services. It was evident that they were filling a real need and their service attracted much attention. The next year, 1940, Rev. White recommended to the National Trustees and Ministers that a National Usher president be selected. Mr. Daniel S. Phillips, a deacon from Sharon, Pennsylvania, and Rev. L.M. Turner then pastor of the Church of God on Cedar Avenue in Sharon recommended Mrs. Esther Culp for that position. Mrs. Culp had worked for a number of years as a youth worker at West Middlesex, pioneering a number of projects,

Mrs. Culp was elected as the first National Usher President in 1940.

Since that long ago election, Mrs. Culp says, "There have been many struggles and many changes. We feel that these changes have been helpful, and that our Ushers Fellowship has developed into a much more efficient organization. Where there is no struggle there is no active development.

The Annual Camp Meeting is the high point of service, and has been through the years. At West Middlesex each year, uniformed ushers serve in every Service of Worship. Classes were also taught by the President, Mrs. Culp. These courses provided new materials for those who attended from year to year and as a point of learning for new ushers coming into the

Fellowship.

 

Years ago Mrs. Culp decided since she was being retained from year to year, or being elected every two years, she must improve her leadership in order to hold a high standard of ushering. She therefore, began to do research work in the field of ushering. She found much material available, and subsequently was brought into contact with a School of Ushering at the University of Nebraska. Upon completing the courses offered in this School, she was awarded her Certificate, and The Gold Master Ushers’ key in 1956. The Gold Key was presented to her in a Special Service in her local congregation in Sharon, Pennsylvania.

 

Early in 1957, Mrs. Culp led the National Ushers in a drive to recruit and train new ushers. “|captainships” were set up in many states. Enthusiasm grew by leaps and bounds, and soon different teams of ushers were being used each day of our National Camp (Meeting each year.

 

Words are inadequate to express the value of the contributions of the Rev.

Gabriel Dixon, pastor of the Cote Brilliante Avenue Church of God, St.

Louis, Missouri. He was the first teacher of the National Ushers Fellowship. In those formative years his words of wisdom and encouragement were indispensable. Rev. Dixon recommended to the Fellowship the Rev. Raymond S. Jackson, of Detroit, Michigan, and who

for years was Chairman of the 'West Middlesex Ministerial Assembly. His fatherly counsel and sympathetic guidance meant much to the Fellowship during difficult years. Mrs. Culp, in her kindly way says of him, “He not only taught us, but he put on his tuxedo and showed us how. The ushers feel that he is “The Head Usher!'' His untiring efforts and encouragement meant everything to us. With his fatherly care for us, the Ushers Fellowship made great progress.

 

Year after year, many churches joined the Fellowship. It has become a wonderful enterprise. It reached international dimensions when the Angle Street Church of God, Hamilton, Bermuda became a member. Plans were then made to go to Bermuda with our 1966 Annual National Ushers Fellowship.

 

In 1952, Sister Daisy Davis had a vision of a National Ushers Convention and brought it to the attention of Sister Esther Culp and Rev. Cochran.

 

It was in 1954 in Sharon, Pennsylvania that suggestions were first made to have a Spring Ushers Fellowship Convention. There was such enthusiasm that in 1955, Rev. A.R. Cochran, then pastor of the Cedar Avenue Church of God, Cleveland, Ohio hosted the First Annual Ushers Fellowship Convention. From the first, it has been a rich spiritual retreat for all who attend. The 1965 convention held in Columbus, Ohio which

marked the tenth consecutive year of meetings. Each year an annual banquet with program and speaker is held; there is the crowning of a “State of States queen” and Ushers Workshop, a guided tour; and inspirational worship services that thrill all who attend the Annual Convention.

 

The Ushers Fellowship has lived to see progress in the National

Association of the Church of God, West Middlesex, Pennsylvania,

The ushers have made their contribution in both the spiritual and financial phases; the concrete floor of the tabernacle was paid by the ushers. The ushers also donated $300.00 for the purchase of the folding chairs. The front alter in the tabernacle is always graced with flowers and ferns placed there by the ushers.

 

In 1963 a check for $ 1,000.00 was given from the ushers for furthering the general work of the National Association. In 1964, $700.00 was given.

 

The National Ushers Fellowship is an integral arm of the National Work.

The President and all the present and former ushers are humbly proud to have had the opportunity of serving the Church on a national scale. Mrs.

Culp, the one most responsible for the years of progress and growth expresses the feeling of the entire Fellowship when she says, “We are happy to be a part of the National Association and members of the great team of national workers!''

 

In 1976, the first Ushers Choir was implemented by Sis. Luesther Pierce.

We have had an ushers choir at our National Convention ever since. Also in 1976, the first youth minister was used at one of our conventions, in the person of Min. Timothy Clarke.

 

By the year 1985, many of these great leaders have gone on to receive their great reward. They have given us a good beginning to a great work.

They have made the ministry of Ushering known far and wide. By having such a ministry, the church has been helped and we as ushers have received great blessings, and spiritual help as Christians.

 

The ushers have served at the campground, at field days in their states, at funerals, and in their local congregations.

 

We have workshops from time to time in different states and also at the campground. The workshops are led by ministers and ushers that are dedicated to the work of the Lord.

 

The National Ushers Convention makes more than a working contribution to the campground. We also collect dues from each state and with this money we do different things on the campground. The flowers and pulpit decorations are part of our work. We now share this with the Missionary group. We have given to the new tabernacle also.

 

We have several of the original ushers that were among the founders still with us. Sis. Irene Love and Sis. Daisy Davis. Sis. Davis continues to help with the convention and has served as our historian and advisor all along. You may know of others.

 

We have had others to join Sis. Davis and through their leadership as presidents, we are ushering in most states and in some of the islands. We have our conventions in different states each year in the month of May.

 

Some of the Workshop leaders:

 

Rev. R.S. Jackson                                                 Rev. G. Dixon

Sis. Vivian Cobb                                                   Sis. Mildred Hall

Rev. John Hall                                                       Rev. James Walls

Rev. Robert Culp                                                  Sis. Luesther Pierce

Sis. Dorothy Hoye                                                 Rev. J.C. Wilbur

Rev. L. Wyatt                                                        Sis. Lucille Johnson

Sis. Ruth Harrison)                                                Sis. Reeba Cooper

Rev. Lonnie Mashack                                            Rev. E. Mitchell

Sis. Vera Allen                                                       Rev. James Jackson

Rev. Jodie Holliway                                               Rev. Bcnard Claytor

Rev. Ernestine Corbett                                           Sis. Daisy Davis

Rev. Roland Cooper                                              Dr Ira Russell

Rev. Ronald Fowler                                               Dr. Eric Raymond Chin

Dr W.G. Robinson-McNeese                                 Rev. Phillip Turner

Dr. Dorothy Osgood                                             Sis Pearl Askerneese

Rev. Jerald January                                                Rev. Clifton McDowell

Bro. James W. Crumbly, Jr.                                   Bro. James Pharr

Rev. James I. Marshall                                           Sis. Laura Pharr

 

We cannot possibly have a history of the ushers without including the faithful labors of Sis. Bessie Wilson and the hundreds of red roses she made for the ushers. Even when she was not well, she made these flowers and brought them to our conventions. Faithful to the end.

 

To repeat the words of Sis. Culp, “We are happy to be a part of the National Association, and members of the great team of national workers!'' We as ushers also add to this statement - We will continue to do the work of the Lord until He calls us from labor to reward

 

Historian,

Sis. Daisy Davis

1964 - 1989

 

Edited by,

Sis. Girlean Tinsley

 

2002 The National Ushers continues to contribute to the upkeep of the West Middlesex Campgrounds. They contributed towards the paving of the roads and the completion of the administration building. The National Ushers also gave $7,000.00 towards the installation of the carpeting in the Tabernacle and $5,000 for the-completion of a room in Frisby Hall.

 

The National Ushers deeply regret the death of one of their former faithful Presidents - Sister Betty Lawson, December 27:, 1998. Her favorite saying was, “we have not because we ask not”

 

The road at West Middlesex after you enter into the gate is named after her for her faithful service.

 

Lewis Reed of Washington, D.C., retired from ushering in December of 2001 . He had been ushering for over fifty years. He is 9l years old.

 

Past Presidents served:

 

Sister Esther Culp Sharon, PA   1955 - 1969

Brother Robert Rhodes               New Haven, CT            1969 - 1972

Brother Jewell Johnson              Detroit, M                       1972 - 1977

Sister Sybil Chisolm                  Miami, FL                       1977 - 1984

Sister Betty Thomas                  Youngstown, OH            1984 - 1989

Sister Betty Lawson                  Teaneck, NJ                    1989 - 1995

Sister Laura Pharr                     Seattle, WA                    1995 - 2001

Sister Elizabeth Gaddis             Columbus, OH.               2001 - 2007

 

Our Present President is:

Sister Donna Ravenell of Maplewood, NJ

 

The National ushers continues to grow and our prayers are that the youth will get the vision of Ushering for the Master.

 

Humbly submitted,

Juanita Wilson

Historian, 1996 - 1999

Spiritual Resource Coordinator, 1999 - 2002

PLACES WHERE THE USHERS CONVENTION HAS BEEN HELD

 

 

 

 

2003-------------------------------------------------------------------- Arlington, VA

2004------------------------------------------------------------ Indianapolis, Indiana

2005----------------------------------------------------------------- Columbus, Ohio

2006------------------------------------------------------- Chattanooga, Tennessee

2007--------------------------------------------------------------- Iselin, New Jersey

2008---------------------------------------------------------- Kansas City, Missouri