Friday, April 27, 2018

Conversation with Bishop Carrington

On this edition of Conversations, I'm having it with an Author and Musician, who more importantly happens to be a bishop. J Charles Carrington, Jr is someone I have come to respect over the years, and have the opportunity to call a friend. 

My Bishop! This is going to be a fun conversation, and I’m going to attempt to keep this very professional and serious. Lol, yeah right.
So can you introduce yourself to the readers and tell us a little about yourself?

Well, first of all I am indeed honored that you thought of me. I count it a privilege to discuss with your sphere of influence.
I am a Servant of the LORD, the most blessed husband of Pastor Althea Carrington, father of 3 wonderful adult children, the eldest son of 2 wonderful parents, oldest of 4 blood siblings and 6 total, and I am a lover of people, preacher of righteousness and available for God’s use.

LOL! You broke that thing down to the basics! Alright Bishop, I see this is going to be a good chat.
So you are the Pastor of Life Builders Church, and the Senior Pastor and Presiding Bishop of The Full Gospel Christian Fellowship. What’s the difference between your church and the fellowship?

Life Builders Church is the local ministry that I have been blessed to pastor since 1986. We started out as Zion Temple Fellowship Church and changed the name at our 20th year to establish the brand of People Builders.
Full Gospel Christian Fellowship is the national fellowship organization of Bishops, Pastors, Para-Church and Ministry Leaders that I cover nationwide.

“Para-church”. I just learned a new word expression. Ha!
So Dominion Church was part of the ministry under your covering? How did you get “to cover” Dominion Church?
(Dominion Church is a church I had joined and was a part of back in ’96)

Wow. . .When Pastor Kermit Wheeler was the Senior Pastor, he sought me out as his covering. We were best friends and grew up in the same Ministry under the leadership of Chief Apostle Monroe Saunders. Pastor Kermit saw the need to have a source of direct accountability and covering for both he and the ministry of Dominion Church. I sought to serve Pastor Wheeler, his family and the Dominion Church family faithfully because of my love for the Wheeler family and the bond of love that developed between myself and the Dominion Church family

Wow, I do miss the late Pastor Wheeler! Going over to his crib and chowing down on the “seafood-fest” he was known for, and sleeping over, and talking late into the night till I wore the poor man out into a slumber! Fun memories.
Coming back from my flashback, Dominion Church has now morphed into Impact DMV Church. How did that come about? Can you enlighten us on the birth of Impact DMV, a church I have now officially joined/returned to, thanks to your “friendly insistence”. Lol

The Joyner family as well as the former Christ Church of Rockville family have been dear to me for well over 25 years. Christ Church became a part of the Full Gospel family. I asked Dr. Lee Joyner to assist with Dominion Church as my relationship with Dominion Church began to be a heavy load that I could not effectively carry alone after the untimely death of Pastor Wheeler. I am sure that you can imagine how difficult it was having to commute from Baltimore after ministering at Life Builders, to minister at Dominion Church, support Pastor Wheeler's family and the Dominion Church family through the grieving process; all while grieving myself.
I would like to think that GOD'S awesome providence led to the merger and joining of two great ministries into one powerful ministry.

(Video intro of Impact DMV Church by Dr Lee Joyner)

That’s awesome indeed. You typically hear of churches breaking off to go start a new ministry. You never really hear of two different ministries merging. Definitely a God thing, and though I’m just getting to know The Joyner family, I’m impressed with their openness and heart.
Okay, now that we have all the framework to our relationship out of the way, lets dig into you! I remember one of the first times I heard you minister, not only did you preach, but you also sang. So you are a musician? Do you write music? Any chance of sharing it with the world?

Man, you are determined not to allow me stay "In-Cog-Negro"
I wrote my first song when I was 5 years old. I have written over two hundred songs. There are some projects on the horizon, the near horizon. 
I am a blessed part of a musically inclined family. We were the foundation of a musical group called The Refreshing. We released our first recording in 1986. I either wrote or collaborated with my brothers to write many of the songs on that project.

(Music by The Refreshing)

Hold up! Let’s digest that for a minute. First song at 5? What was the title, and what was it about? Candy, cartoons, or something more “heartfelt” (as heartfelt as a 5 yr old can get. Lol)

LOL...The name of the song was "Dumbo Is A Flying Elephant". I need to revisit and update it and contact The Disney Company.

My 10% please for inspiring this idea, thank you (hahaha). I guess you must be some sort of musical prodigy. Well, we are definitely looking to the near horizon for your musical projects.

I do know you are a writer. How many books have you written?

To date I have written 5 books

5 books? That’s awesome. Okay, lets do a quick overview of each:

Plain Talk On The Revelation:-This book is a "plain-talk" commentary on The Revelation. It does not employ heavy theological terms nor out dated opines. It simply explains, to any reader, what this book is detailing

A 40 Day Devotional:- It is simply a change agent, designed to help the reader mature and deepen their relationship with GOD. 40 Days usually represents a time of lasting change process and development

Leadership Insights:- This book was written as if I was having a personal and indept conversation with a leader

(Available on Amazon)

The Transformation Theology:- This book is about the real solution to spiritual blight in urban settings. It confronts racism, victimization, the blame-game and leads the reader to the breaking of systemic thoughts and behaviors that multiply and lead to the destruction of our cities

(Available on Amazon)

Let’s talk about your book your 5th book, “Heavenly Minded”. How did you come about writing this book?

(Available on Amazon & Barnes and Noble)

As a pastor for over 30 years, I have seen and experienced many things. Unfortunately, some of the experiences are detailed in HEAVENLY MINDED. Of course I am not talking about any one person nor any one situation, but I have personally experienced some of what’s in this novella.
I wrote the book by the leading of the Holy Ghost because people need deliverance in a powerful way.

How different is "Heavenly Minded" from OWN's "Greenleaf", the soap opera depiction of a mega church, that has often left me with a sour taste for not being able to capture the authentic moments of true ministry?

I wrote "Heavenly Minded" before "Greenleaf" came out. I held it back because we were in the midst of a major opportunity at the time, and I did not want the potential distraction that could come from the controversy. The subject matter of "Heavenly Minded" did not completely center around homosexuality, but the subject was/is prominent and dealt with in the book

You have never been afraid to address that topic, but I can understand a need to avoid controversy on the cusp of an opportunity. What has the reception been to this book?

To date the reviews have been powerful. Over 500 copies have been sold as of this this interview, through personal sales, Barnes and Nobles, Amazon, Nook and Kindle

That’s great! As a fellow independent author, I know the pavement pounding one has to do to drum up sales. Congratulations indeed! Are you working on any other writing projects in the near future?

A sequel to HEAVENLY MINDED is in the works and an audio book is soon to be released.

You are a Bishop, so lets talk about that. Joseph Prince is the “grace” preacher, Joel Osteen is the “hope” preacher, Benny Hinn is the “healer”, and Billy Graham was the evangelist. What would you say your core message is?

I am GOD's Vessel available to be what He requires of me. I want to be like Jesus; he had a Word for all situations, he wasn't in a box, and he met the needs before him. I want to be a Man of GOD

I like that. We live in a contemporary world. Do you believe the church, especially from the pulpit (your platform) should address contemporary, and even controversial issues, or we shouldn’t rock the boat (and no, I’m not going there…though you know I have no qualms to, and neither do you. That’s why you’re my Bishop. Ha!)

The Word Is contemporary - It is appropriate for all seasons and addresses all issues. The real question is are we, as preachers, brave enough to minister the whole counsel of GOD?

There it is. Most preachers seem to want the adulation of the pulpit and crowd, and even the world, so they pacify them. While others are so disconnected from social concerns and issues, with their faces completely buried in dogma.
How do people who haven’t heard you minister get a chance to experience your teaching/preaching?

If you are on Periscope follow me @BishopJCharles. There are a backlog of messages there and our church website has a bookstore

You are a happily married man with kids; do you mind telling us about your family and how God has been good to you? (Make your boast in God’s goodness to your family)

I give GOD all the glory for my wife of over 34 years. She has saved my life, breathed affirmation into me. She has given me two wonderful sons, and my son has blessed us by choosing our new daughter, his bride. My Wife and children are my chief earthly joy

Congratulations! I celebrate God’s goodness to you indeed
Before we wrap this up, would you be willing to share a pivotal personal moment you’ve had in your walk with God? A moment you learned something so life affecting. I’m sure there is someone reading this waiting to be influenced and affected by your experience, and lesson learned.

WOW! I failed in so many areas…We lost a building. . .I placed people in my life who hurt me. . .I was once stupid with money. . .I let my focus on seeking the approval of people almost destroy my life. Each place of failure taught me that GOD is my SOURCE. I am to trust HIM above all others. Be swift to hear and slow to speak. I am a better man because GOD is the MASTER GIVER OF SECOND CHANCES

Amen!! Master Giver of second, third, fourth, fifth chances! Heck, multiple chances!! Glory to God!! Thank you Bishop.
Where and when can we come fellowship with you and be blessed?

Every Sunday at 12:30 pm, and starting at 10 am as well on Wednesdays beginning at 7:15 pm at 7310 Park Heights Ave, Pikesville, Maryland (Life Builders Church At Temple Oheb Shalom)

Are you open to receiving any love gifts, donations or offerings from readers? (I’m learning you always gotta be open to receive, cos you never know who might feel led to give)

I asked GOD to make me a good investment and to allow my life to always be fertile a soil, so yes!
(Please CLICK HERE to consider giving a love gift/sowing into this ministry. Thank you)

How do we connect with you on social media?

Yes Sir! Follow me on Twitter @BishopJCharles. My Facebook page Bishop J. CharlesCarrington, Jr. Again, thank you for thinking of me. 100 Fold Return!!!

Amen!! Thank you sir!! As predicted, good talk! 😄, I appreciate you much!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Conversation with Yvonne Lewis

Dr Yvonne Lewis wears many hats, from Cable channel executive, to being an accomplished musician, to being a doctor and entrepreneur.. I was first aware of her immense gift when I head her doing back up for Luther Vandross, and later releasing her wildly popular debut CD back in the nineties. Fast forward YEARS later, and I have been privileged to have an edition of Conversations with her. 

Where do we start? I’m glad we finally get a chance to do this. To introduce yourself to the readers, who would you say Yvonne Lewis is?

That’s an interesting question, because I have so many facets, kind of like an onion—multi-layered. I’m a Christian black woman who is a wife, mother, singer, Christian television executive, and author. This isn’t necessarily the correct order, but you get the picture.

I completely understand. I became acquainted with you from your first CD, “No strangers in Paradise” (1995), available on iTunes. The heart and beauty of it, along with the message of it, as well as it being so contemporary arrested me. That must seem like light years ago. What do you remember about making that CD?

(One of the songs on the cd)

It DOES seem like such a long time ago! There are several things that stand out about that project for me. Probably what’s most prominent in my mind was the fact that I was going through a devastating time in my personal life. My home was in foreclosure, I was a single (divorced) mother, and I was being forced to leave. I had owed the IRS a lot of money, and they were garnishing my residuals (from the jingles that I’d recorded), and leaving me with less than what I could survive on. I didn’t know where I was going to go. So, on that CD when I recorded “God Will Make a Way”, I was singing it to myself, encouraging myself that He would take care of me, just as He always had. It’s funny. During the hours of recording, I was having a blast praising God! My spiritual mentor, Pastor CA Murray, would come to the studio and hang out. I truly didn’t even think about my situation until I would travel home from the studio at night. It was then that I would think about my financial condition. But the Lord kept me so occupied during the day, that I wasn’t depressed. I was elated in Him! The second thing that stands out is the caliber of musicians and singers that helped me on the project. My producer, Dana Reed, and arranger, Jerry Hutchinson (whose name never appeared on the cover, due to an error on my and Dana’s part), were so talented! Then, my background singer friends came and helped me. Singers like Luther Vandross, Cissy Houston, Tawatha Agee, Vaneese Thomas, Frank and Babi Floyd, James (D-Train) Williams, Diva Gray, Dennis Collins, Fonzi Thornton, etc. What a line-up of talent! We all had fun, and could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in the studio. It was anointed!

Wow! That's an incredible testimony! To think your life appeared to be falling apart literally by forces beyond your control, yet in the midst of it, you birthed a project that captured so much hope and promise. That actually is speaking volumes to me right now. Thank you.
By the way, awesome line up of name dropping. Lol 😃
Moving forward to this most recent recording of yours, “Magnify him” (2017), what would you say has changed compared to your previous recording?

(Exclusively available to purchase on her cable network's ONLINE STORE)

My experience with this current project is very different from my first one. I am no longer involved in the NY background/studio scene, although I still love and cherish my friends there. I am currently the General Manager of 3ABN’s urban network, “Dare to Dream”. Therefore, I have a stable income and a more settled life. My husband, Danny Shelton, is the President and Founder of 3ABN, and what a blessing he is to my life! This CD has several of the songs that I have previously recorded for 3ABN with large, lush orchestral arrangements, and probably demonstrates a bit more versatility in vocal style than did my first CD. I guess the listeners will have to determine that.

(Learn more about the network)

(Performing one of her tracks from her new CD "Magnify Him" 2017)

I most definitely second the vocal versatility demonstrated. Sandi Patty has always been one of my favorite singers because of the pure voice, and how it builds up in the song into a stratospheric climax in that high note. So I was pleasantly thrilled to hear you do something similar so effortlessly. What can you tell us about your musical training and journey to this point? Obviously you have mileage in your musical pedigree.

I honestly didn’t have much formal musical training. When I was in college, I studied for one semester with Alleyne Dumas-Lee, a wonderful soprano, who gave me arias in German and Italian to sing. In New York, I had a great vocal coach, Martin Lawrence, who helped me with vocal “blending” (moving from one vocal register to the next). Other than that, virtually no additional vocal training. I grew up in a musical household. My parents both sang, but my Dad had an unparalleled love for singing. He was a real crooner in his day. My maternal grandmother was a coloratura soprano, who gave concerts internationally. My aunt, Carol Thomas, was a wonderful singer and pianist. My paternal grandmother had a strong soprano voice. My uncle, Howard Hodge, was a very successful pianist/arranger, who arranged charts for singers like Tom Jones, Helen Reddy, Freda Payne, and even the actress, Kathryn Hepburn. Music was in my family. It’s in my DNA.

Um, I think you are modestly downplaying the wealth of training learned in just one semester, especially if you were able to do arias in German and Italian.
With this CD project of yours, I noticed the CD has a very specific intention of exalting and celebrating the greatness of God, hence the well-fitting title, Magnify Him. What would you like to share with us regarding the concept, vision and making of this CD?

Yes! The whole idea of this project is to magnify the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. When I sing, I always try to bring the listener with me into the presence of God through worship. It is to worship the Almighty, the Creator of the Universe. The Giver and Sustainer of all life! The music isn’t to point to me as the singer. It is to be a vertical experience. Not horizontal. Therefore, when I sing, “Your Grace Still Amazes Me” and “Just Once More”, I’m inviting the listener to worship the Lord with me, and to thank Him for the grace and love that He shows even when we don’t deserve it. The title song, “Magnify Him” has an interesting story attached to it. On Dare to Dream, we have a music program by the same name. We needed a song for the program, so I asked the Lord to give me a song for it, and He did! He gave me the lyrics and the tune! Now, I don’t consider myself a great songwriter, but the Lord did it! He gave me the whole song, and it’s the theme song for the program, and the name of the CD. God is amazing!

Let’s segue for a minute. You dabbled into Eastern unorthodox medicine in the past. What exactly did you invest into, and what attracted you to it?
In the 90’s, I developed a passion for alternative medicine! I loved the study of herbs and supplements, and could name a natural alternative to many of the pharmaceuticals that were on the market. As a jingle singer, I had a lot of “down time”, in which I wasn’t working. So, I decided to pursue alternative medicine. I am a driven person, and whatever I get involved with, I throw myself into. I became a naturopathic doctor, massage therapist, certified reflexologist, iridologist, and auriculotherapist. I later studied acupuncture and was licensed and board certified in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I had a medical practice in Dallas for 5 years. What attracted me to it? Honestly, as I look back on it, I realize that my pride had a lot to do with it. I loved the idea that I could just touch someone’s hand, and their headache would vanish! I enjoyed knowing things that others didn’t know, and my pride led me to study and explore all of these modalities. I wanted to be the best at it, both for my patients’s sake, as well as my own.

You eventually transitioned from that practice. What did you discover that led to this change?

Minister Kenneth, believe it or not, you had a part to play in my departure from TCM! Several years ago, you reached out to me about “Just Once More”, a song from my “No Strangers in Paradise” CD. When I told you that I practiced acupuncture, you asked me how I could reconcile that with my Christianity. I was a bit miffed, but I thought about it. The Lord also led me to some resources that absolutely convinced me that I was to turn away from acupuncture. It is based on astrology, which is forbidden to us Christians. Once I realized that He was calling me out of it, I dropped it, and God has shown Himself to be more than faithful ever since!

I am humbled to think I was part of the process. And I remember that conversation. Lol. In my unfiltered manner, I unsolicitedly share my opinion. And I would dare say your response back to me didnt suggest you were a "little" miffed. Hahaha! 
Anyway, moving along. You currently are a broadcaster in an urban Christian cable network, and an executive. Congratulations! That’s an awesome platform. Please tell us more about this new chapter in your career, and how you got on this amazing journey?

It HAS been an amazing journey! You see, when I left acupuncture, which was 95% of my income, I finished a book that I had begun called, “GREAT DAYS: 9 Principles to Revolutionize Your Life”. When I finished the book, my spiritual mentor, C.A. Murray, who was working at 3ABN, invited me to come there for an interview on their flagship program, “3ABN Today”. I gladly went, and Pastor C.A. had another engagement off site. He asked the President and Founder of the network, Danny Shelton, to do the interview. He also told him that since I wasn’t familiar with the area, would he take me to lunch. Hmmm. I think maybe he had an agenda, don’t you? Anyway, Danny Shelton and I hit it off from the outset! Over time, he talked with me about my heart for the inner city, and felt impressed that I should be the head of 3ABN’s urban network. Look at God! If I hadn’t left acupuncture, I wouldn’t have had the most outstanding ministry career of my lifetime! AND I have the greatest husband in the world, because I married Danny Shelton!

(Introducing Yvonne and her family)

Seems it was divinely orchestrated for you guys to be.......through the not so subtle introduction by your mentor! Lol. 
What programs do produce, and how do viewers worldwide watch them?

The Lord impressed me to identify the challenges confronting inner-city residents, and then to design programming that addresses those concerns. Therefore, we have programs on relationships and parenting (“RD 2 Romance”,“Pumped Up Parents”, “A Father’s Heart”, “Live to Be Well”), health and lifestyle (“A Taste of Paradise”, “Chew’s Challenge”, and “Creative Cooking”), employment (“Workin’ the Dream”), a program for ex-offenders, hosted by an ex-offender (“The New Journey”), music (“Magnify Him”), and much, much more! Our most popular program is “Salvation in Symbols and Signs”, our prophecy program, where we learn about the books of Revelation and Daniel. We literally receive at least one email every day about it. 
There are several ways to watch D2D. It is streamed 24/7 online. If you have a smartphone or tablet, you can download the 3ABN app, click on the “D”, and voila! Or, you can purchase a Roku Box, and watch D2D on your TV. Additionally, we have a YouTube channel where you can watch many of our programs on demand.

That's awesome! A lot of original programming!
What should we look forward to from you this year?

Dare to Dream is producing some great new programs this year! We are putting a new teen program together, which will address some major concerns of our urban teens. We also are continuing to produce our prophecy program (“Salvation in Symbols and Signs”), which is our most popular program. We completed the Book of Revelation, now we’ll focus on Daniel. Musically speaking, I’m currently working on a music project for 3ABN that includes multiple artists and flavors. The theme is the 3 Angels Messages of Revelation 14. It’s a joy to work with some of the top producers, arrangers and artists in the gospel music industry. I also am doing more song writing this year, and am amazed at the way the Lord inspires! I recently co-wrote a song with my friend, Tim Parton, called “Your Love Lifts Me Up”. It’s about how I let the Lord down. I was losing my way, but Jesus’s love lifted me up and removed all doubt, fear and shame.
God literally impressed me with the lyrics in a morning, and gave Tim a melody for it about an hour after I sent him the lyrics.  I cry every time I hear the song.

Indeed! Thank God for his mercies and consistent faithfulness to us. I look forward to hearing this song, as well as the other musical projects you have cooking.
I saw an interview of you with your son. Can you tell us more about your family?

I’ve already told you about my wonderful husband, Danny. He has blessed me with his two daughters, Melody and Trinity (now mine), and I brought my two sons into the family. Melody is a wonderful wife, mother, singer and song-writer. Trinity is a straight-A student, who’s graduating from high school this year. My sons are very special young men! They love the Lord, and have amazing testimonies of their own. They both had some problems in their youth, but God has really turned their lives around. My older son, Marc, continues to move forward with his life. Marc just completed his vocational training, and is looking forward to new employment opportunities. My younger son, Jason, is my assistant at Dare to Dream. He is often featured on various programs on D2D, as well as 3ABN parent network. It’s a privilege to see my kids grow into their divine destiny. Between us, Danny and I have 10 grandchildren, and others that we consider “our kids”.  I’m proud and thankful for all of them!

The miracle is when the problem child is transformed into a blessing. We know then it is strictly a God thing, and he alone gets the glory!
What last words would you like to share with our readers, especially this season when most people are making commitments to change and aspirations?

Be sure to include God in the mix! You can save yourself so much time and energy that way. Think about it: you have the all-knowing, all-powerful God who longs for you to know Him better. He wants to bless your socks off. Are you standing in the way of your own blessings? Are you making time for God? Trust Him to see you through every situation. He’ll ALWAYS have your back!

Thank you, Dr Yvonne Lewis for your time given to this conversation