Grace & Glory Interview-Dr. Karen Bethea
G&G: Dr. Karen Bethea, it is always a special treat for me to talk with you and we have a lot to talk about. Let’s catch up on what’s happening over at the Set The Captives Free Outreach Center. I understand there is a twofold celebration in store to close out the year. Tell us about the concert, which is scheduled for the day before New Year’s Eve correct? And New Year’s Eve will be in three parts, can you explain?
Dr. Bethea: At STCF we love to worship and this year we are having a Pre New Year’s Celebration called, “Destined to Worship” with William McDowell. His music is the epitome of worship. I love the songs, “Give Myself Away, As We Worship, and Closer/Wrap Me In Your Arms.” They are anointed and you feel the presence of God throughout the entire project. We want to invite Baltimore and the surrounding areas to come out for a time of high worship and the celebration of another year that the Lord has kept us! Tickets can be purchased at www.stcfoc.com. The next day is New Year’s Eve and we have something for everyone. On December 31st at noon there will be a brunch and the speaker will be Dr. Harold Carter Sr. of the New Shiloh Baptist Church. He is like a dad to my husband and I. My husband grew up at New Shiloh and has many fond memories from there. I also attended there for two years with him. Dr. Carter has blessed us so much and we really respect and appreciate the gift of God upon his life. At six o’clock there will be a one hour service with guest preachers Dr. Lisa Weah, Pastor Jason Nelson, and from Philadelphia, Pastor Christian Winters. It is going to be an hour of power with performing arts’ ministries between each speaker. Then finally at ten o’clock we will have our countdown celebration service which ends at twelve fifteen. It is going to be a powerful time of celebration and direction for the New Year all day long!
G&G: Pastor Bethea, New Year’s Eve, out with the old in with the new. The end of the year comes with mixed emotions. Declarations were made and themes were put on banners. What would you say to those who may feel another year has come and gone and they still have not received the promises and declarations that were made at the onset of this year?
Dr. Bethea: I would say that God does not move within our time frame but within His. When we make prophetic declarations we still have to remember that He is sovereign and may not do what we have declared within 52 weeks. Each year we make a prophetic declaration, but I am clear that what we have decreed may not occur within the time period that we feel it should. I would also encourage each person to do a self evaluation to see if they are in a position to receive what they have declared. Sometimes we are the hold up and not God. God is always on time. Sometimes we ask for things that we are not ready to handle. Like a good father, God will not give us what we want if we are not ready for it.
G&G: So Pastor Bethea, how do you now encourage the brethren to continue on and embrace the upcoming New Year in spite of what did or did not happen in 2010?
Dr. Bethea: We have to believe the Word. We have to remember that all things work together for our good and in their season. The man in Psalms Chapter One brought forth his fruit in his season. Sometimes we want other people’s fruit and not our own. I also think patience is the key. Four scriptures come to mind here:
I will admit that this is easier said than done but it really comes down to trust. Do we really trust God?
G&G: Pastor Bethea, something tells me that 2011 at Set The Captives Free will be full of exciting events. One in particular comes to mind the trip to Israel. You must tell us about this awesome opportunity.
Dr. Bethea: My friend Marilyn Hickey who was with us again in November, had her personal travel agent put together a tour for me and the Women Who Soar Team. I had been talking about going to Israel for years. The Women Who Soar and I decided that we would make it our first missionary journey. We are so excited. Not only will we be baptizing there but now we have a couple that is going to have their wedding on the trip! We have 98 people going and they are from all of our churches. We have eight spots open due to cancellations so it is not too late if someone wants to go.
G&G: Let’s shift a little bit, let’s talk about the ‘Women Who Soar’. This is a ministry birthed from the Karen S. Bethea Ministries. I have noticed that women’s ministries are very prevalent now. What was the vision behind ‘Women Who Soar’ and what sets it apart from other women’s support groups?
Dr. Bethea: The Women Who Soar (www.thewomenwhosoar.com) is a traveling ministry designed to meet the unique needs of women. It is distinct because all of the members live in different states and one of them out of the country. It is a group of female clergy who were led of the Holy Ghost to come together in the early part of 2009 to form a conference for women that would travel from place to place strengthening, encouraging, uplifting, and empowering women. We have an emphasis on making sure that these conferences are edifying and affordable. Our focus is to empower women to walk closely with the Lord and be all that He has created them to be, to empower women to obtain healthy self esteem, to empower women to make healthy life choices, to encourage women to become financially healthy and independent, to encourage women to become physically fit, and to be examples of how to overcome various life obstacles. Our expansion plans next year will include the Little Women Who Soar. We want to empower young women to get financially fit early in life and to empower them to make healthy life choices. We just had our final conference here in Baltimore in November and now are preparing for our trips next year to Israel, London, and other cities around the globe. We are excited about the impact that is being made. It is so fulfilling. Women in God can get along!
G&G: Pastor Bethea, in addition to the women’s ministry there is your latest book “Testimonies From Overcomers- Women Who Soar.” What was the motivation behind the compilation of women’s testimonies as the back drop for this book? How would reading this book enrich women’s lives?
Dr. Bethea: We have been getting feedback from all over the country from men and women that the book helped them because we were all transparent. Often we see successful people and we see their glory (current success) but not their story (their past). Look at Tyler Perry for example. He is successful now but no one knew until recently, the pain he endured as a child. When God cleans us up we look good but there is a story or a past that has been overcome. People need to hear that story as well. We found that by sharing our stories, others have received hope, encouragement, and deliverance. In each location this year we had a panel discussion where the women could ask us any question they wanted. Those times were the highlight of the meetings. The relief that comes with breaking the silence is priceless. What makes us unique is that fact that we tackle the tough subjects and provide a safe place for people to disconnect from their painful pasts and walk into a new and wholesome life.
G&G: There is so much to talk about and I want to try and touch on a little of everything. There is an alliance with the West Baltimore Clergy United and the Set The Captives Free Outreach Center. I believe this is a community outreach alliance, what is the mission for this organization?
Dr. Bethea: The West Baltimore Clergy United Inc. was formed in June 2008. I am the president and Bishop Dwayne Debnam (Morning Star Baptist Church Catonsville), is the vice president. Members include: Overseer Bertha Greene Overseer Bertha Greene (Sacred Zion Full Gospel Baptist Church), Bishop Reginald Kennedy (Gospel Tabernacle Baptist Church), Bishop Monroe Saunders Jr. (Transformation Church of Jesus Christ), Rev. Stephen Smith (Mt. Moriah Baptist Church), Bishop Rayner Wharton Sr. (Mt.Olive Holy Evangelistic Church), Pastor Franklin Lance, D. Min.(Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church), Rev. Dr. Lisa M. Weah (New Bethlehem Baptist Church), Rev. Dr. Guy Robinson (Jones Tabernacle Baptist Church), and Rev. Allison Lightner (New Light AME Zion Church).
The purpose of this organization is
Membership is open to pastors on the west side who also agree that the day of ministry in isolation is over. We pray that eventually, every area of our state will have clergy groups such as these that will come together and work in harmony with one another to make an impact for the Kingdom of God.
G&G: Pastor Bethea, lastly we can’t let you get away without asking you what is your forecast for the upcoming year? What are you hearing in your spirit for the Body of Christ?
Dr. Bethea: We must be fierce defenders of the faith! “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 1:3
So much has happened to attack the credibility of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Whether men or women fail, fall, or stand God is still who He says that He is and we must defend that. We have to walk worthy. (Ephesians 4:1.) This does not mean that we will be perfect. What it does mean is that we need to try with all of our hearts as leaders and believers to set good examples for the lost. The church is consistently under attack, but let’s not give the world a reason to knock us. Let’s be innocent when they accuse us. Let’s also take the needed time to get things straight when we mess up. I have never seen so many people unwilling to sit down and get themselves together when they have missed it and it is having very negative effects on the body in general. It almost seems like there is no longer a standard in the body but I do see the standard being restored in the near future. My prayer for the entire body is simply this, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23
Happy New Year everybody!