Honoring Jennings Sr., students


Published: Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 3:11 p.m.

With tears in his eyes and his voice cracking, former city of Gainesville Mayor Ed Jennings Sr. recited the poem "Invictus" to thank Victory Temple Ministry Church of God in Christ for honoring him at the Celebrating Education Outreach & Appreciation Service.

Facts

VICTORY TEMPLE MINISTRY

Pastor: Dr. LaShon Young.

Location: 908 SE Williston Road.

Services: Sunday School is at 9:30 a.m., morning worship is at 11 a.m. and evening worship is at 6 p.m. Bible study is 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

Phone: 352-377-4944.

"Christ is the master of my fate; Christ is the captain of my soul," Jennings said Sunday afternoon at the church as he completed reciting the poem written by William Ernest Henley.

Jennings, 74 and retired, was honored by the church for his contributions to the community as a politician, activist and city and county employee.

The church also honored almost 20 young congregation members for their academic achievement.

Earlier in the service, the pastor of the church, Dr. LaShon Young, said the church began honoring children in the church with the "Pastor's Honor Roll" to not only recognize children who made the honor roll at school, but also to honor those who came close to making it and those who improved their grades.

She said her husband, the late Superintendent Dr. Aaron S. Young, founder of the church, started the Pastor's Honor Roll several years before his death in July 2007.

It was Youth Sunday at the church, and Young told the children that God does not want them to be "spiritually on top of the hill," but failing in school.

Those who made the Pastor's Honor Roll are:

* Carlton Brooks, fourth-grade, Duval Elementary Fine Arts Academy.

* Diamond Brooks, first-grade, Duval.

* Tyler Brooks, second-grade, Duval.

* Nyosia Brown, Pre-K, Idylwild Elementary School.

* Nysha Brown, second-grade, Idylwild.

* Gerala Campbell, seventh-grade, Lincoln Middle School.

* Gerald Campbell, second-grade, Duval.

* Gerrianna Campbell, sixth-grade, Lincoln.

* Jaylin Chambers, third-grade, Symmes Elementary School, Tampa.

* Travisha Donaldson, 12th-grade, Eastside High School.

* Amarion James Ivey, first-grade, Genesis Preparatory School.

* Amaria LaJoy Ivey, kindergarten, Smokey Bear Kiddy College.

* Brandon Martin, sixth-grade, Howard Bishop Middle School.

* Marquis Ross, eighth-grade, Kanapaha Middle School.

* Tamya Ruff, third-grade, Terwilliger Elementary School.

* Jemeah Seabrooks, sixth-grade, Fort Clarke Middle School.

* Derriona Walker, ninth-grade, Buchholz High School.

* Angel Young, ninth-grade, Buchholz.

* Arianna Young, who recently received an associate of arts degree from Santa Fe College.

The service included a host of people who took turns talking about the impact Jennings has had on their lives and the impact his career has had on the Gainesville community, with some comments being more lighthearted than others.

Alachua County Commission Chairman Lee Pinkoson read a proclamation from the Alachua County Commission declaring Aug. 28 Ed Jennings Sr. Day and Missionary Eunice Davis of Williams Temple Church of God in Christ in Gainesville, who presided over the service, read a proclamation from Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe also declaring Aug. 28 Ed Jennings Sr. Day.

In addition, Alachua County Tax Collector Von Fraser, state Rep. Charles "Chuck" Chestnut IV and Clovis Watson Jr., the former city manager and chief of police in Alachua, all spoke briefly in honor of Jennings.

Jennings was born in Tampa and graduated from Middleton High School there.

He earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Bethune-Cookman College in 1963, then married his college sweetheart, Bettye Gibbs Jennings, a native of Hawthorne, in 1964, and moved to Duval Heights in northeast Gainesville.

In 1971, he became the city of Gainesville's first community affairs coordinator, staying in that office for more than 10 years as he enforced civil rights laws. He also represented District 1 on the Gainesville City Commission from 1993-2000 and was appointed mayor in 1996 by his peers on the commission.

Bill Wharton, who attends Campus Church of Christ with Jennings, spoke during the service about how Jennings has impacted his life.

"We are prayer partners and we meet every Wednesday night to pray," Wharton said. "I just want to thank you for being my brother in Christ and a help to me."

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