As the Second Missionary Baptist Church celebrates its long history in the Monroe community, some of its members are making their own history.
Under the leadership and administration of Reverend Terrence Johnson, a technology-based Christian education was introduced, a women’s ministry and workforce training within the youth ministry was established. His team focused on building visibility for the church using social media without realizing that the COVID pandemic would hit and church services would go virtual. He also added Kathleen Tigney to the ministry team.
Tigney is the first woman to be appointed as a deacon at the SMBC. Johnson chose her shortly after becoming leader of Monroe’s first black church. The event marked the first time in 100 years that women were ordained to the clergy.
“It was before the pandemic when I was asked to be a deacon,” Tigney said. “My family was a bit surprised and very proud of me. Everyone supported me.”
However, before taking the job, Tigney said she discussed the matter with her husband, Floyd, a longtime SMBC member and church administrator.
The 75-year-old is no novice when it comes to leadership. For more than 30 years, Tigney worked in the human resources department for the city of Detroit. As a religious leader, Tigney served as a senior director with the Episcopal Faith. In 2015, she joined SMBC and said shortly after Pastor Johnson took over administration of the historic church in 2019 that she had been confirmed as a deacon.
“My role as a deacon is to assist the pastor in any way he needs, whether it be with administrative issues, discussing finances and maintenance of the church as well as programs within the church. ‘church. Wherever he needs help, the deacons are there to reach out and there are two other deacons, Deacon Bruce Byrd and Deacon William Parker,” she said. “My first year as a deacon, we were still under the pandemic and struggling to get things done.”
In her role as a deacon, Tigney would like to see a ministry developed for young women and said the biggest lesson she has learned on her spiritual journey is the realization that she is not alone.
“You have many people who are there to help you, but you must have the knowledge and be aware that God is with you, and He is your main source of strength,” she said.
“I was aware of the work she was doing at a church she previously served,” Johnson said. “For the role of deacon, no gender is required. Once you have been called to serve by God, that call does not go away.
At Clark Street Church, leadership responsibility has many levels – from ministry to parenting roles.
Easter Vining and Myra Small are church mothers.
The title usually refers to older women in African American churches. Along with three other women, Vining and Small earned the named honor for their dedication to the ministries of the church which recently celebrated its centennial.
As matriarchs of the spiritual community, they have an obligation to share their wisdom with the young faithful. As older women in the church, they have the knowledge to nurture the next generation.
Mother Vining has been a member of the SMBC for 66 years and takes its title very seriously.
The 86-year-old sees her role in the church as a pointer who serves as a mentor to younger members.
“I don’t meddle in youth affairs, but if anyone has a problem they can talk to me and it will be kept confidential,” Vining said. “It’s important to be able to follow the path and set a standard for young people to follow. Our church is a close-knit family church. Whenever something happens in the community or to a member of our church, we unite. Were very close.”
Mother Small, 83, moved to Monroe from Alabama in 1958 and joined SMBC a year later. Her mother, Hattie Hobson attended the church, and her children and grandchildren are members.
Over the years it has witnessed many changes such as when the church was located on Conant Avenue before moving to its current location.
The reason SMBC is his church is because it’s like family. She said people are loving, kind and help each other. She credits previous generations of members for the longevity of the church.
As a church mother, she sees her role as raising her own children.
“If you see something wrong, you will call your child apart and discuss the issue with them and try to work things out,” she said. “It’s important to show them love.”
Over the years, she has steered young people away from behaviors that could cause trouble and encouraged them to behave properly.
For the future of SMBC, she envisions growth with the next generation and credits Pastor Johnson for the improvements that have been made in the three years he has served as pastor.
Mother Small said the century-old church is always welcoming new members.
“We don’t turn anyone away,” she said.
“Second Baptist has always been known as a family church. We are working to make it a family church,” Johnson added. “Our goal is to see how the church can accommodate families of all ages.