A magnificent procession ushered in pomp and celebration where some 2,800 people comprised of congregants, parishioners, clergy, elected officials, corporate executives, 500 out-of-town visitors, well wishers, special guests, family and friends came out November 6 to take part in the high order of Bishop Neil Clarence Ellis, Presiding Bishop for Global United Fellowship of Churches (GUF).
The extraordinary and spirit-filled occasion was held in the grand ballroom of the Atlantis Hotel in Nassau, Bahamas. “I am simply overwhelmed at the outpouring of support from everyone,” commented Bishop Ellis, Senior Pastor of Mt. Tabor Full Gospel Church in Nassau.
Global United Fellowship is a newly organized body of over 130 churches that include the Republic of the Bahamas, the United States, the continent of Africa and the United Kingdom.
The ceremony, officially titled ‘The Service of Episcopal Institution and Inauguration,’ was presided by Chief Celebrant Bishop J. Delano Ellis II, DD., PhD, Metropolitan Archbishop, The Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops; Co-Celebrant Alfred Owens Jr., D. Min, Metropolitan Archbishop and Presiding Prelate Mount Calvary Holy Churches of America, Inc and; Co-Celebrant Bishop Kenneth Ulmer, D. Min, PhD, Presiding Bishop Macedonia International Fellowship Chairman, Council of Apostolic Fathers and senior pastor of Faithful Central Bible Church in Los Angeles.
Heavenly hymns and spirited renditions stirred hearts from the 100-plus-voice choir singing a range of choices from ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ to ‘I Give You Praise.’
Pastor Yvonne Hines of Winston Salem, NC, delivered ‘The Ministry of the Word’ from Isaiah 42; Pastor Rico Sharp of Orlando, FL, shared scripture from Hebrews 5; and the Right Rev. Craig John of Los Angeles read from John 17.
The Word reinforced the assignment and mission of GUF - to fortify families and marriages, strengthen the body of Christ, forge ahead in teaching spiritual discipline and sound leadership. The ceremony touched every emotion; it was equally solemn and jubilant. The installation process followed a protocol of examination and “laying on of hands.”
Officially installed, Bishop Neil Ellis spoke passionately about his vision for GUF and the charge to assemble an 18-member cabinet of co-laborers to carry out the worldwide thrust. He followed with several key announcements including naming Dr. William Murphy, 85, as Father of the Fellowship and Mother Mattie Taylor, 81, as Mother of the Fellowship. Both emotionally moved, they were received with applause and adoration.
Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom during the Obama Administration, was named GUF’s Special Adviser for Cultural Diversity.
Dr. James Woodson of Greensboro, NC, and Pastor Michael Williams of Tampa, FL, were recognized and thanked for their administrative diligence in organizing the activities and events.
Joined by his lovely wife, Lady Patrice Ellis, and their two children, celebrity friends and international leaders were also present. Among the guests were gospel music educator and TV Producer Dr. Bobby Jones, TV Judge Glenda Hatchett, Bishop Clarence McClendon (Preachers of L.A), Louis Gibbs of The Impact Network and the Honorable Perry G. Christie, Prime Minister of the Bahamas.
Following the ceremony, the bishops and their guests attended a post-event reception. A tasteful meal of lobster ragout, sliced beef, grilled Mahi, assorted vegetables and beverages were served. Attendees engaged in conversation, reflection, and bridge-building during the reception.
March 2014 will see another gathering of GUF to build upon its’ mission and directives as set forth by organizational guidelines and the body’s profession of faith.