Thursday, January 27, 2011


Vernon M. Herron

The Rev. Dr. Charles McNeil

Recently, I was unduly happy to have received an announcement/invitation to the Installation and Banquet for the Rev. Dr. Charles McNeil, Sr. as the new Senior Pastor of the Transfiguration Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My “adopted” son has become a promising local pastor, community leader and a destined world citizen. Let me “back up” to give you the historic context of my relationship with seven boys being reared in Philadelphia by single parents.

When I served on the ministerial staff of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Philadelphia, I assumed a fatherly leadership role with approximately seven boys who were being reared in homes by single parents. Often, small meaningful jobs were provided and religious, racial and educational issues were raised and discussed within the context of the Christian faith. We constantly met at church where we often held our sessions before, during and after services.

One day an “outsider” who was a friend of “the boys” joined us in worship. He was immaculately dressed with an earring in his ear. His apparel was quite noticeable, which brought about a discussion once the guest had gone.

I distinctively remembered an inquiry as to whether the group should be influenced by the wearing of an “earring” in one ear as this “fade” was beginning its promotion. Noting that wearing such apparel has implication of an alternate life style, and that even though some successful black business men with wealth were doing so, the boys all looked to me for a response. I simply said, “if you as a male, wear an earring, Wall Street will not hire you.”  That seemed to have settled the question. I never heard it discussed any more nor did I ever see any one of the seven wearing an earring.

Of the seven boys, I lost contact with two; one became an electrician; one a family man, Reginald Russell; one, a manager of a school project for the University of Pennsylvania, Maurice Fluellen; one was featured in my blog #43 as a Government Analyst in the Corporate Department of Shire Pharmaceuticals, Donnell Sheppard and the seventh one is the Rev. Dr. Charles McNeil.

At an early age, Charles became a Christian, was baptized, licensed to preach and was ordained in and by the historic Shiloh Baptist Church in Philadelphia, PA. He serves on the board of directors for New Life Youth and Family Services in Harleysville, Pennsylvania; the Black American Legacy League in Philadelphia; and the Youth Leadership Development Programs, Inc. in Chicago, Illinois. He is also a founding member of NewCORE (A New Conversation on Race and Ethnicity), Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity, The Baptist Pastors and Ministers Conference of Philadelphia and Vicinity.

Currently, Dr. McNeil serves as the Executive Director for Church Partnerships and Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University. He earned a Doctor of Ministry and Master of Divinity Degree from Palmer Theological Seminary; a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Organizational Leadership from Eastern University; and an Associates of Arts Degree in Specialized Technology from the Arts Institute of Philadelphia. In 1990, he founded Brothers United Basketball Fellowship, a sports ministry that ministers to hundreds of men through basketball, and is the founder/director of Inner-City Arts Program, Inc. He is currently developing a mentoring program for African-American boys, while collaborating on a book referencing the black church. His dissertation focused on the survival of black urban churches in a time of gentrification.

Dr. McNeil is married to Angela (Senior). They have three lovely children: 15 year-old Ayanna: 13 year-old Charles, Jr.: and 7 year-old Malaika.

I am proud of Charles. It was a long and hard struggle for him, his mother and his family yet he made it. Now he wears a “doctoral” robe (earned), and NO EARRING.

Congratulation and keep going!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

#48 I Have Changed My Mind

Vernon M. Herron

Before I share a lighter side of my nature, let me set the record straight regarding my theological stance which guides me daily. I believe that God is:

and that I am a subject of HIS. (The meaning will be given later.)With that out of the way, let me tell you the lighter side of the story.

In recent years, my body has been racked with arthritic pain, so much so, I was beginning to lose the will to survive. All that I wanted was to be free of pain so that I could resume my former life’s style of preaching, traveling, dressing and engaging in other cultural and political activities. Since it seemed that those days were long gone, and that “I could not do like I used to do,” I was preparing for “heaven” by declaring no more preaching, expenditures on cars, travel, clothes and luxury for me.

But something happened for the better. Medically, a procedure allowed me to have an injection which removed all pain due to arthritis. Now, I feel much better. I have changed my mind about life and living. For example, initially I was invited to return to the St. Paul’s Baptist Church, West Chester, PA, where I once served as Interim Pastor to preach. Initially, there was a decline to return to fulfill that objective for health reasons but with a new lease on life, my beloved daughter, Leila and I returned to West Chester, only  to fellowship in worship and renewed memories. The following excerpt from a “thank you” note to the church captures  the spirit of the day.

“You demonstrated brotherly love in every way. You provided convenient transportation , comfortable lodging, delicious food, in-depth discussion, a meaningful worship experience and gracious social networking. I shall long remember your thoughtfulness and magnanimous spirit. We enjoyed a safe trip and a well planned and executed experience.”
The “provided convenient transportation” consisted of being chauffeured in a 2010 Mercedes Benz S-550 Sedan which was
fully loaded with dual climate control, heated seats, blue tooth hands free telephone, state of the art navigation system, rear window shade at a cost of “a pretty penny.” The ride was comfortable, smooth, awesome and technologically controlled. I had to say, “mama, look at your boy!”

I was driven by a “brother” who had just retired from the UPS. Deacon Marvin Stewart is his name. Needless, to say that I was impressed beyond measure.

Now, I have an 18 year old Buick automobile, free of debt, it rides good and is clean. I have no intention of another car note, but since the West Chester ride, I have changed my mind and am open to “new rides.”

Now, there is a second episode which has influenced my thinking.
A certified tailor came to my home/office and tailored for me three suits to be worn during the year. I was impressed with his marketing skills, presentation, his precise measurements, business experience, goals, proficiency and efficiency and he is Black college trained. Since my body pain has subsided, I am committed to live a little longer to wear these suits. In fact, at one point, I said, “no more travel for me, no more clothes, no more cars and no more preaching” but I’ve changed my mind. Let’s put “heaven” on a little hold, wear some of the new clothing, do a little more traveling and even preach one more time. I have been so busy: “Ain’t Got Time To Die.” Read Hall Johnson’s words in his spiritual.

Lord, I keep so busy praisin’n my Jesus
ain’t got time to die.
‘cause when I’m healing de sick,
it takes all of my time
to praise my Lord.
If I don’t praise Him, de rocks gon’ter cry out
glory and honor!

Lord, I keep so busy workin’ fer de kingdom,
ain’t got time to die.
‘cause when I’m feeding de po’
I’m working for de kingdom,
ain’t got time to die.

Lord, I keep so busy servin’ my master
ain’t got time to die.
‘cause when I’m giving my all,
ain’t got time to die.

Hear the conclusion of the whole matter: God has the last word!
I began this writing by listing the attributes of God. Now, I want to give definitions and a conclusion.

Infinite: subject to no limitation or external determination.
Omniscient: having infinite awareness, understanding and insights.
Omnipresent: present in all places at all times.
Omnipotent: unlimited power.
Immutable: not susceptible to change.

I may have changed my mind, but GOD is the final judge. My times are in His hands!


Monday, January 10, 2011

# 47 Projects Which Motivate

# 47 Projects Which Motivate
Vernon M. Herron

Most public school systems are experiencing a life/death struggle for its daily existence. Never-before have challenges been so pronounced: budget cutting, teacher lay-off, curriculum curtailment, school mergers, transportation problems, poverty related districts and student motivation, etc. to name a few.

Private schools are growing by leaps and bounds mainly because of a focus on ‘student motivation.’ This blog posting is written to show how two independent educational projects are designed to motivate students within the public school systems. They are the Going FOURword: Using Four-Letter Words in a positive way, and Jonathan Stewart: Playing the Field or the Piano.

Going FOURword  is a  motivational strategy conceived and used by school teacher Thornton Howard, III which uses over 1600 Four-Letter Words in a positive way. This strategy seeks to help elementary and middle-scholars think positively and act responsibly to achieve academic success. Going FOURword is a phrase used to describe the attitude and actions of anyone using a four letter word in a positive way.

The going FOURword- workbook is designed to help engage students in dialogue and activities to increase their self-esteem, and to help develop plan for accomplishing their goals. This work book is divided into four sections called Success Routs: Self Esteem, Goal Achievement, Peer Power and Helping Others.

A simple way to engage youth or anyone is through the use of four letters-words (the good ones,) words like able, best, good, and team, etc. These words are to be used for class or family discussion and for individual student empowerment.

  Going FOURword is a project that motivates.

The second project worthy of our attention which motivates is:

Jonathan Stewart: Playing the Field…and the Piano. Jonathan Stewart has become the poster picture for the Carolina Panthers Football Team where he plays a running back position. He was a hero for the Panthers 2009 season. Jonathan ran more yards than any other player. He and DeAngelo are considered the most powerful running back duo in the NFL.

Last year, Jonathan injured his ankle, had surgery and was inactive for the season. Today, he has recovered and plays football better than ever.

Jonathan now encourages males students to play sports and the piano as he does. He was recruited by Mrs. Geraldine Daniel, owner and director of Genies Christian Academy of music. Her male students were losing interest in piano education. They just wanted to play sports. They conceived that playing the piano just was not “cool.” But Stewart encouraged the boys to play sports and the piano. As a model, Stewart plays the piano sometimes before a big game for relaxation; before excited groups of students and parents for motivation.

Mrs. Geraldine Daniel, a Charlotte musician graduated from West Charlotte High School, Howard University, Manhattan School of Music and Queen University.

The Gerrie Christian Academy of Music is growing with the help of Jonathan Stewart and that is MOTIVATION.




Tuesday, January 4, 2011



Vernon M. Herron

Christmas has come and gone. Yet there lingers a haunting question which needs addressing. More than 250 years ago, George Frederick Handel developed an oratorio called the “Messiah” of which the “Hallelujah Chorus” was its ending and climax. When that chorus is sung, even today, generally the audience will stand. WHY? Let us explore this question to see if we can arrive at a historic truth.

For 82 years, I have heard the Hallelujah Chorus. When I was 12 years of age, I first heard this famous piece of work rendered by the community and combined choirs of the renowned Ebenezer Baptist Church of Charlotte, NC under the direction of the late Hazel L. Miller. The thing that startled me was that everybody stood when the first few measures of the chorus started. Now at 82, on Christmas Sunday, I heard this famous rendition again as sung by the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church choir of Charlotte. Again everybody stood. Having a “standing endurance” problem, I remained seated until I heard the last syllable of the last word “hal-le-lu-jah.”

From my youth , I wanted to know, why stand when George Fredrick Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus of the “Messiah” is rendered? Here are my conclusions:

Some stand out of ignorance; they don’t know why. Others are doing so, now one follows.

Some stand out of respect for its musical, biblical and theological significance. The music contains movements, crescendos, repeats and keys which intrigues musical knowledge and grips the soul. Theologically, the chorus is comforting, affirming and prophetic. One only has to read the text as to be caught up in a state of spiritual ecstasy: Note the text of the chorus and the theological implications.


For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. (Rev. 19:6)

The kingdoms of this world are become

The kingdoms of our Lord

And of his Christ.

And He shall reign forever and ever. (Rev. 11:15)

King of kings and Lord of lords. (Rev. 14:16)


Then some stand out of tradition. Since this is a custom, a habit is formed.

But standing out of tradition has a historic significance. Even though there is no certainty of reason surrounding the custom of standing for the Hallelujah Chorus, the following might be considered. Being the protocol that people stand when a monarch stands, the audience and orchestra stood, a custom that remains to this day. And why did King George II stand?

According to Monty Bennett:

• The reasons are not known but are thought to be one of the following:

o King George II stood thinking that the performance was over.

o He was so moved by the performance that he stood to his feet.

o He stood out of tribute to Handel, the composer.

o He stood out of respect, showing that he is a subject of Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

The next time George Fredrick Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus is sung, somebody give me a hand and help me to stand. Will you?