Showing the fruit of the spirit

Verna Johnson, left, and Vivian Filer, members of churches in the AME district, pass out fruit to the residents of Park Meadows Health Center during the Fruit of the Spirit program, which also included a performance by the Fullness of Joy dancers, right, of Mount Olive AME in Gainesville.

BRAD McCLENNY/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 31, 2012 at 6:43 p.m.

The nine characteristics that make up the fruit of the spirit — love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and kindness — were examined by the Susie Long Women's Mission Society of the Gainesville-area district of the African Methodist Episcopal Church before members of the society blessed residents of a Gainesville nursing home with fruit cups, praise dances and songs of praise.



Pastor: The Rev. Richard Allen Brown IV.
Location: 721 SE 8th St.
Services: Sunday school is 9:30 a.m., followed by morning worship at 11 a.m. Bible study is 7 p.m. Wednesday for adults and young adults.
Phone: 352-378-9051.

Organized by Cynthia Mingo, president of the society and a member of Mount Olive AME Church in Gainesville, the service was held last Saturday at Mount Olive.

After the service at the church, missionaries visited Park Meadows Health and Rehabilitation Center in southwest Gainesville to serve the residents fruit cups and to lift their spirits.

Mingo said spending time with Park Meadows residents was a perfect way to end a day dedicated to the nine fruits of the spirit.

"This is a service, not a program," Mingo said. "This is a service to our Lord and savior Jesus Christ."

Veronica Brown, first lady of the church, presided over the service, which featured the Mount Olive Mass Choir singing "This is the Day" and "I've Got Joy Down in My Heart."

Verna Johnson, president of the society at Greater Bethel AME Church in Gainesville, spoke about love. She said love should be given unconditionally.

"We have to love people even when they don't love us," Johnson said.

Lafronta Mathes of Mount Olive AME Church in Evinston spoke about joy, telling parishioners that people in the world look at how people of God handle adversity and all trials and tribulations of life.

"We must show the world we have unspeakable joy in the name of Jesus Christ," Mathes said. "We must show our inner joy even in the midst of our going through. Count it all as joy."

Persilla Gordon of Mount Zion AME Church in Hawthorne spoke about peace. She said peace is attained when people agree not to have "strife with one another."

She said the word of God promises "perfect peace" that will withstand all of the chaos that is "happening in the world today."

Brown talked briefly about long suffering and told parishioners that enduring long suffering is a "rejoicing moment."

Jennifer Presley of Bethel AME Church in LaCrosse talked about gentleness, and began her speech by singing a verse of "Jesus is the Light of the World."

She said there is a time for showing "tough love" and a time for gentleness.

Lavinia Lampkin of Mount Olive AME Church in Gainesville, who talked about goodness, began her speech by saying people must know God before they can even want the fruit of the spirit. She also said all of the fruits of the spirit work together in unison like links on a chain, adding that they all work together.

"You have to have all of them," she said.

Leila Pratt of St. Paul AME Church in Windsor talked about faithfulness and began her speech by reciting the words to the gospel song "O, for a Faith That Will Not Shrink." She said people need the kind of faith that reminds them to leave their problems at the cross.

Mingo stood in for an absent Yvonne Andrews of Allen Chapel AME Church in High Springs, who was supposed to talk about meekness. Mingo spoke very briefly and led parishioners in reciting a familiar scripture.

"The meek shall inherit the earth," Mingo and parishioners recited together.

Josephine Gaskin of Atlas AME Church talked about kindness, the last fruit of the spirit. She said she would like to see more people being nice to others by showing agape love.

"Kindness is about putting the well-being of others first," Gaskin said.

The Rev. Richard A. Brown IV, pastor of Mount Olive in Gainesville, said the nine characteristics of the fruit of the spirit equals one.

"All nine of these make up the fruit of the spirit," Brown said. "All of them make up one, and we all need to have all of them."

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