The Washington Conference Lay Organization of the African Methodist Episcopal Church is commissioned to teach, train and empower its members for lay ministry, global leadership and service following the tenets of Jesus Christ
The purpose of this organization shall be to organize and train the laity of the African Methodist Episcopal Church so that laypersons may maximally utilize their God given abilities and skills to improve and extend the kingdom, to create happiness, peace, and harmony among its members.
The Washington Annual Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC) has been in existence for over 60 years. The Washington Annual Conference was organized and adopted from the Baltimore Annual Conference. At its 134th Session, the Committee on Stations, Circuits and Missions presented a resolution to form the Washington Annual Conference with the following counties, Prince George's, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Montgomery and Allegheny Counties. The newly composed district would include the Potomac District, Hagerstown, and Capital District. The Hagerstown District was dissolved in 1980 and those churches were added to the Potomac and Capital Districts.
In 1954 Bishop L.H. Hemingway died suddenly. Bishop Ward Nichols, presiding Bishop of the First Episcopal District at the time, was elected Interim Bishop presiding over both the Baltimore and Washington Conferences completing his predecessor's tenure until the 1956 General Conference.
Bishop Nichols had an interest in the Connectional Lay Organization (CLO) and believed that the Baltimore and Washington Conferences should be represented at the 1955 CLO Biennial held at the Bellview-Straton Hotel in Philadelphia, PA. He selected Sis. Rachael Valentine to represent the Washington Conference. Among other members from the conference who attended the session were Atty. and Mrs. James Raby, Mr. & Mrs. James Childs, Mr. & Mrs. Robert Kelly and Mrs. Minnie Taylor. Subsequently, when the Washington Conference Lay Organization (WCLO) was officially organized in 1956, Bishop Nichols' selection of Sis. Rachael Valentine to attend the Philadelphia Biennial manifested itself to be prophetic as Sis. Valentine was elected WCLO's first president at the Second Episcopal District laity session held at Kittrell College, Kitrell, North Carolina in August 1956. At that time, Professor Vernon Cowan, the first elected District President, mandated that each conference organize and become an integral part of the district organization.
Sis. Vorhees Jameson was initially elected a charter member of the Baltimore Conference Lay Organization (BCLO); however, she later moved to Washington and became a charter member of the WCLO. Other charter members included Sis. Hazel Bentley, Bro. James Childs, Bro. D. Carter, Sis. Gladys Gant, Sis. Ella M. Gothard, Sis. Leona Harrison, Sis. Arlie P. Lewis, Bro. George W. Mitchell, Sis. Bernice M. Shelton, Sis. Melvina Offutt, And Sis. Frances Well.
In 1957 at St. Paul AMEC in Washington D.C., the Washington Conference Lay Organization elected Atty. James H. Raby as its President and Mr. William Shelton as secretary. President Raby was a leader, philanthropist, friend and concerned person. He selected the third Tuesday of each month to meet. The selected day remains over fifty years later. Atty. Raby organized many local Lay Organizations. It was his idea to take up a collection or in many instances make a sizeable personal donation to initiate the treasury of the new organization. He organized the first annual boat ride in June 1961 as a major fundraiser. At that time Mr. Joel McLeod was elected as Chairman of the activity and it continued for many years until it had to be discontinued due to the exorbitant cost of the project.
Atty. Raby represented the conference laity at district and connectional lay meetings. He also made sure that delegates were sent to the Connectional Biennial Meetings and made sure they had ample financial assistance to attend. Dr. Joseph P. McKinney a non-office but avid lay member often assisted Raby to meet the financial needs of the organization when it became necessary.
Mr. William Shelton was the first WCLO elected secretary. He lived in Baltimore and joined another church so in 1963 Mrs. Luberta Jennings was elected secretary. Mrs. Jennings served in that capacity for about twenty years.
Atty. Raby was appointed as a consultant to the Connectional Lay Organization by its past Presidents Emeriti (Dudley and Williams) and died suddenly in 1981 after serving as its president for over twenty-five years.
Mr. Robert Kelly, who served as first vice president to Atty. Raby for many years, took command and carried on with distinction. He continued to plan bus trips to district meetings, maintained the Annual Bull Roast fund raiser, which remained successful into the late seventies. He was crowned king of the Second Episcopal District Lay Organization as the Washington Conference representative. Many say his success was due to his innovation and programming.
Atty. Raby's first corps of officers:
1st, Mr. Robert Kelly; 2nd, Mr. Richard Watkins; 3rd, Mr. John Makell
Recording, Mr. William Shelton and Mrs. Luberta Jennings; Corresponding, Mrs. Catherine Barnes; Financial, Mr. Edward Hunt
Mr. David Offutt, Mr. Malcolm W. Lea, Mrs. Gladys Gantt (Assistant)
Chaplain: Mr. Ira Benson
Parliamentarian: Mrs. Minnie Taylor
Director of Lay Activities: Mrs. Bernice Mungen
Director of Public Relations: Mrs. Annette C. Jones
At the 1982 Annual Conference at Mt. Moriah AMEC, Mrs. Bernice Treadwell Mungen was elected president of the Washington Conference Lay. As President, Mrs. Mungen brought much life to the organization. Several local organizations were organized under her leadership and membership increased. She continued the bus trip program to district meetings and secured van transportation to monthly meetings. She carried the best delegations to the biennial sessions. She moved the bull roast to a more attractive setting and increased the proceeds from activities as well as monthly collections.
President Mungen and her "Ways and Means " committee sponsored the awards luncheon at the navy yard and gave certificates of recognition and appreciation to the outstanding lay persons for local lay organizations. She also gave certificates to local churches with the highest attendance at the monthly meetings at Annual Conference on Lay Night. She and her Director of Lay Activities, Mrs. Annette C. Jones planned interesting topics for monthly meetings, which the local churches developed and presented.
From its inception, the WCLO endeavored to continue the legacy of Richard Allen - centered on Christ and His teachings. Additionally, The WCLO played a pivotal role in the SEDLO, readily participating and engaging in all programs, activities, and events organized by the SEDLO. During the ensuing years, the WCLO served as hosts for the CLO Biennial Conventions as well as SEDLO Conventions. In conjunction with its teaching and training model, WCLO's program always stressed including youth, providing service, and fostering scholarship and leadership.
Accordingly, five Bishops have been elected from the Washington Conference - Bishops G. Dewey Robinson, Frank Madison Reid, Jr., Robert L. Pruitt, William P DeVeaux and Harry L. Seawright.
The Washington Annual Conference has expanded from 41 to 84 churches, building Christian discipleship to minister to the social and spiritual development of all people.
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