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By Jackie Hampton
The women of College Hill lead the church service on Sunday as they celebrated their 72nd annual Women’s Day service beginning at 10 a.m. The theme of the occasion was “Christian women stand firm, unshaken, abundant in the work of the Lord”. The guest speaker for the occasion was Dr. Carmen J. Walters, President of Tougaloo College. The Women’s Day chair was Deaconess Debra McGee.
The tone was set when the Women’s Day choir marched down the aisle to the choir stand singing “I just want to say thank you.” There were smiles, applause and nods as the congregation rose to their feet and stamped their feet to the music.
It was Women’s Day and it seemed that men were not allowed to sit in the pulpit. Pastor Chauncy L. Jordan Sr. and Rev. Calvin Peoples seemed quite content sitting in the front row of the right-hand side pews.
The women lead the service from start to finish, with one exception, the invitation to discipleship. First Lady Lashanda Jordan presided over the service. The call to worship was extended by Jeraldine Watts, the scriptures read by Bobbie Lowe, the opening prayer by Latasha Clark, each normally led by clergy and deacons.
Prior to the message, Women’s Day co-chair Shirley Davis made a surprise presentation and tribute. The Women’s Day Committee had selected Malena Winfrey Dow as Woman of the Year. It was a total surprise for Dow. The church gave him a standing ovation in full agreement and appreciation.
Davis was emotional as he described how much Dow has done for College Hill. A longtime member, he told Dow, “You have been a faithful servant of the church and words cannot describe how much we love you.”
JSU professor Dr. Mark Henderson, one of Dow’s former students while teaching at Jackson State University, provided a special tribute. In his tribute to Dow, he recalled that when he was one of her students, he would say to her, “Mrs. Dow, I’m hungry,” and she’d say, “No, you’re hungry.” He might say, “I wasn’t in class because I had to go to the library and she was like, ‘No, you had to go to the library.'” She even remembered her home phone number when she was a freshman. he gave it away in case he ever needed to communicate with her.
In her tribute, Henderson spoke directly to Dow saying, “Sometimes I wonder, as I wander through this life, what could have been or would have been if Malena Dow hadn’t existed. If there had been no you, then there would have been no me.”
Following the tribute, Dow thanked her alumni and church family for the honor of being chosen “Woman of the Year.” It was obvious that she was really surprised and caught off guard. In fact, she said: “If I had known, I would have put my high heels on.”
Church member Leon Williams, who watched the service from his home, said afterward: “We should elect her again when we have Men’s Day.”
Walters, the 14th president of Tougaloo College, was introduced by committee chair Debra McGee. She described her as a Christian woman and life evangelist who is an expert trainer in church administration and trains church boards and executive leaders across the country to help them understand her role in ministry.
Walters brought the women of College Hill to their feet, shouting “Gloria.” There were tears and laughter throughout his message. He referred to the fact that “God is real” and we should not be too proud to admit it. Walters said she would she didn’t read a speech and if that was what was expected of her, then she apologized. She simply preached a sermon acknowledging that when the choir came in, she knew everyone was ready to go to church.
During his message he sang, prayed and taught. She said, just like the topic, one must stand firm. Your mind must be saved and a saved mind is an optimistic mind that must be clear to stand firm.
At the close of the Women’s Day message, Pastor Jordan opened the doors of the church, where one, based on Christian Experience, joined the College Hill family. In his words, he congratulated the Women’s Day Committee for a job well done. He thanked President Walters for an excellent message and the choir and musicians for their participation.
Pastor Jordan congratulated Dow on being named Woman of the Year.
Special thanks to Jan Taylor Ellis, guest choir director, and Sherry Milton and Ashli Sutton, guest musicians, for their participation in celebrating the 72nd Annual College Hill Women’s Day 2022.