Stan McKenzie, Bishop Vashti McKenzie’s Husband, Dies (BCNN1 7.23.21)

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According to Religion News Service, Stan McKenzie, the first male episcopal supervisor of missionary work in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the husband of Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, has died. The Christian Recorder, the official publication of the denomination, announced his death, which occurred on Wednesday (July 21). Stan McKenzie, 76, died in Dallas after a brief illness, John Thomas III, the publication’s editor, told Religion News Service. Less than two weeks before, McKenzie’s wife — the first woman bishop in the denomination’s 205-year history — praised her spouse at the retirement service for bishops during the AME Church’s General Conference. “He is unique in that his ego does not get in the way of me being who I am and I don’t get in the way of who he is,” she said in Orlando, Florida, on July 9. “This is a man that listened to every sermon before you heard it and listened to it patiently and supportive — this is the man who when God called me to preach said ‘yes’ because he knew that God was calling us together.” The bishop said she, in turn, supported her husband’s career when he was an NBA player for teams that included the Baltimore Bullets, the Phoenix Suns and the Portland Trail Blazers. His basketball career concluded with the Houston Rockets and he holds a more-than-50-year record for the most free throws attempted in one quarter. After he retired from the NBA in the 1970s, McKenzie was employed for more than 20 years in the personnel services and human resources fields, according to his bio from the AME Church’s 10th Episcopal District, from which he and his wife had just retired. He was a manager for corporations, negotiating contracts, overseeing operations and supervising staffs. In 2000, with his wife’s election as bishop, McKenzie became the first man in the role traditionally held by female spouses of bishops. Bishop Anne Henning Byfield, president of the AME Church’s Council of Bishops, commented in a statement to RNS about his “stellar” service. “Stan McKenzie modeled male leadership as a Supervisor of Missions with creative and imaginative ways,” she said. “At the same time, he was her partner in ministry, marriage, and family. He served as a model for male supervisors who followed him.” In a recent tribute video, Vashti McKenzie thanked him for his efforts within their denomination. “We have a lot to thank Supervisor for,” she said. “I mean, he was absolutely fabulous doing the work of missions.”

According to the New York Times, New federal data draws one of the starkest illustrations to date of how the coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected Hispanic and Black Americans, showing that they suffered a far steeper drop in life expectancy in 2020 than white Americans. Overall, life expectancy in the United States fell by a year and a half, a federal report said on Wednesday, a decline largely attributed to the pandemic that has killed more than 600,000 Americans. It was the steepest decline in the United States since World War II. From 2019 to 2020, Hispanic people experienced the greatest drop in life expectancy — three years — and Black Americans saw a decrease of 2.9 years. White people experienced the smallest decline, of 1.2 years. The coronavirus “uncovered the deep racial and ethnic inequities in access to health, and I don’t think that we’ve ever overcome them,” said Dr. Mary T. Bassett, a former New York City health commissioner and professor of health and human rights at Harvard University, who characterized the findings as devastating but unsurprising. “To think that we’ll just bounce back from them seems a bit wishful thinking.”

According to NBC News, The leader of the far-right Proud Boys pleaded guilty Monday to burning a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a historic Black church during a demonstration in December. Enrique Tarrio, 37, of Miami, was arrested Jan. 3 in Washington, D.C., on a warrant stemming from the Dec. 12 incident. The Proud Boys and other groups marched in a raucous pro-Trump rally through downtown Washington. The banner was stolen from the Asbury United Methodist Church, one of the oldest Black churches in the area. On top of the destruction of property charge, he also pleaded guilty to attempting to possess a high-capacity gun magazine, which is illegal in the city. Both charges are misdemeanors, punishable by up to six months in jail. He will be sentenced next month. Monday’s pleas were unrelated to the Capitol riot Jan. 6, in which at least three dozen members or followers of the Proud Boys have been charged. Federal prosecutors said in court documents that Tarrio, referred to as the “Proud Boys Chairman,” posted messages on social media that members of the group planned to “turn out in record numbers on Jan 6th.”

According to the Associated Press, Belated and beleaguered, the virus-delayed Tokyo Summer Olympics finally opened Friday night with cascading fireworks and made-for-TV choreography that unfolded in a near-empty stadium, a colorful but strangely subdued ceremony that set a striking tone to match a unique pandemic Games. As their opening played out, devoid of the usual crowd energy, the Olympics convened amid simmering anger and disbelief in much of the host country, but with hopes from organizers that the excitement of the sports to follow would offset the widespread opposition. Trepidations throughout Japan have threatened for months to drown out the usual carefully packaged glitz of the opening. Inside the stadium after dusk Friday, however, a precisely calibrated ceremony sought to portray that the Games — and their spirit — are going on. Early on, an ethereal blue light bathed the empty seats as loud music muted the shouts of scattered protesters outside calling for the Games to be canceled — a widespread sentiment here. A single stage held an octagon shape meant to resemble the country’s fabled Mount Fuji. Later, an orchestral medley of songs from iconic Japanese video games served as the soundtrack for athletes’ entrances. Athletes marched into the stadium in their usual parade, waving enthusiastically to thousands of empty seats and to a world hungry to watch them compete but surely wondering what to make of it all. Some athletes marched socially distanced, while others clustered in ways utterly contrary to organizers’ hopes. The Czech Republic entered with other countries even though its delegation has had several positive COVID tests since arriving. Organizers held a moment of silence for those who had died of COVID; as it ticked off and the music paused, the sounds of the protests echoed in the distance.

According to Assist News Service, One of 276 girls abducted from their school in Chibok, northern Nigeria by the infamous Boko Haram has just graduated from university – the very thing her kidnappers fight to oppose, according to Open Doors UK & Ireland. “Boko Haram roughly translates as ‘western education is forbidden’,” says Open Doors UK & Ireland CEO Henrietta Blyth. “This is a powerful sign that young people across Nigeria want the chance of an education, and no amount of intimidation is going to change that, especially not the chance for girls.” Mary Katambi is one of the 276 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram from the Chibok State Secondary School in April 2014, later escaping from the radical Islamic group. She completed her degree in Accounting at the American University in Yola, Adamawa State. Her graduation ceremony took place this month at the university. Mary’s parents and friends came to celebrate with her.

According to PEOPLE magazine, For the very first time, a pair of Black female debate partners were named the champions of Harvard University’s annual summer debate competition. Emani Stanton, 17, and Jayla Jackson, 16, took home the win after facing off against more than 100 other debaters from around the world — and going undefeated for all 10 rounds, according to the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project. “The bar has been raised, and that’s a good thing for people and for girls of color all around the world,” Jackson, a rising junior at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Atlanta, told NBC affiliate WXIA. “It is still mind-blowing for us. We went in there, and we did it.” Each summer, Harvard hosts a residency and debate competition for students — and for the past four years, the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project has been recruiting and training Black youth from the Atlanta area to compete. That program is how Jackson and Stanton, a rising senior at North Atlanta High School, first met, and where they quickly realized that Stanton’s analytical brain was a perfect balance to Jackson’s more creative thinking. This year’s competition marks the fourth year in a row that students from the program have won. The girls’ topic of debate that earned them their big win was “Resolved: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization should substantially increase its defense commitments in the Baltic States.”

According to the New York Times, A half-century ago, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — a young goliath then known as Lew Alcindor — led the Milwaukee Bucks to their first championship. For decades, it was the only time the franchise had reached that height. That is, until now. On Tuesday night, the Bucks capped off their return to greatness. They are once again led by a behemoth with unique skill, this one a 26-year-old player from Greece nicknamed the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo [YAA-NUHS AAN-TUH-TUH-KOOM-POW]. On its home court, Milwaukee defeated the Phoenix Suns, 105-98, in Game 6 of the N.B.A. finals to win its second championship and complete a grueling N.B.A. season of injuries and coronavirus pandemic disruptions. “This should make every person, every kid, anybody around the world to believe in their dreams,” a jubilant Antetokounmpo [AAN-TUH-TUH-KOOM-PO], who is also of Nigerian descent, said after the game. He added: “I hope I give people around the world from Africa, from Europe, give them hope that it can be done. Eight and a half years ago, before I came into the league, I didn’t know where my next meal would come from. My mom was selling stuff in the street.” Antetokounmpo [AAN-TUH-TUH-KOOM-PO] turned in one of the greatest performances in N.B.A. finals history, scoring 50 points — a playoff career high — and adding 14 rebounds.

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In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

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