Malissa McKennie is not new to Sabbath worship. She was introduced to and explored the Sabbath while attending seminary, and taught Sabbath worship for many years.
“While Sabbath is the day of rest, every day is a day of thanksgiving.” She committed to preach any day of the week, when given the opportunity, because God is for all who are called to serve in His purpose.
For 19 years, McKennie loved serving in the music ministry at her church, yet her soul was conflicted because church leadership did not endorse women preaching. During an annual Fall Revival in Antioch, visiting keynote evangelist Caesar W. Clark gave a message that brought freedom. Clark boldly declared, “If God can use a woman to carry and to nurture ‘the Word’ in her belly for nine months, and if a woman can deliver ‘the first Word’ to the world, surely, a woman could speak and preach on it!”
McKennie says that life-changing experience is where “I received my wings.”
Shortly thereafter, McKennie became the first woman preacher at Covenant Baptist Church, with Q. L. Carswell, pastor, appointing her assistant pastor. She served for seven years.
McKennie started an outreach mission church for city dwellers with drug addiction and mental challenges. She secured and renovated a building for church and to accommodate homeless individuals. Offices were converted to bedrooms, and showers and tubs were added to the bathrooms.
“It was a house of refuge! Church was open every day for ministry, and necessary life-altering skills were offered,” says
McKennie. She also founded Gimme A Brake Outreach and We the Family Christian Community Church.
McKennie strongly believes every pastor needs a pastor. She found her pastor in her new landlord, Samuel Bulgin, D.Min., senior pastor at Atlanta Belvedere Church in Decatur, Georgia. Bulgin is a hands-on pastor who nurtured, befriended, listened, taught the Word of God, and consistently prayed for McKennie. “He was the ear that would hear my concerns and needs concerning ministry at any given moment. He always made time to listen, advise, and counsel as I pastored my own ministry,” says McKennie. “He was my pastor before he became my pastor, and I thank God for him.”
McKennie began to occasionally attend Bible studies at Atlanta Belvedere Church. One Sabbath, Bulgin introduced McKennie to the congregation saying, “We want you to be part of the Belvedere Seventh-day Adventist Church!” Although she did not commit at that moment, she was shocked at his words. She had not shared what God had already revealed. As tears ran down her face, the Spirit of the Lord reminded her of the years she had held Sabbath services.
Following her Sabbath experience,
McKennie spoke to her congregation one Sunday saying she was joining the Atlanta Belvedere Church because God impressed upon her heart.
Although she wanted her congregation to join her at Belvedere, they did not choose to follow. McKennie ensured that each one found a Bible-teaching church, and continues to give them Bible studies, feeling honored to have the opportunity.
McKennie officially joined the Belvedere family on September 15, 2018. “The members at Belvedere have welcomed me as part of the family of believers,” she said. “They accept me and share the love of Christ.” She jokes saying she has more sisters and brothers now, and she is her mother’s only child!
“My life is an open book, and I will continue to share my testimony whenever and wherever I am led to do so, so that others may see the salvation of the Lord and accept Him as Lord and Savior,” says McKennie. “For the Word teaches us to remember that we are the Word’s conduits for each member, as we are all in the presence of the Lord.”
McKennie continues to share her testimony with her children, mother, grandchildren, and everyone she meets. “Wherever I go, I have always been real with those whom I meet.”
Carolyn Johnson is the Sabbath School superintendent at Atlanta Belvedere Church in Decatur, Georgia.
Georgia-Cumberland | October 2020