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2017 Mid-Atlantic Annual Conference Report

By Bishop J. Talmadge Gardner

I was honored to serve Bishop Abel & Trish Palomo and the members of the Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC) as their presiding officer on Saturday, September 9, 2017.  According to Bishop Palomo, this was MAC’s sixty-eighth annual conference gathering.

The conference was hosted at Kingsway Christian Center in Baltimore, Maryland.  Kingsway Christian Center is pastored by Rev. Shawn and Bridgette Simon.  The current Kingsway campus was developed by our former colleague and friend, Bishop Wesley and Peggie Potter during their seventeen-and-a-half-year pastorate there.  What an impressive campus and ministry legacy!

Bishop Palomo’s State of the Conference Report provided attendees with an overview of the ministry progress of almost every church and minister in the MAC. It is very obvious that Abel knows his flock well and enjoys celebrating every success they have with them.  He also expressed his appreciation to the church that he and Trish currently pastor, House of Prayer Maranatha. They have been exceptionally understanding in allowing him to “function as bishop of the MAC in addition to serving them as their pastor.”

Bishop Palomo concluded his remarks by sharing his three-fold vision for the MAC:

  • Churches that raise up leaders and successors in ministry and missions
  1. This is the best way we can continue with the vision of the church
  2. With people who love their local home church
  • Churches that mother “daughter” churches
  1. This is the natural way and the most effective way
  2. Statistically, new churches grow faster
  • Churches and ministers who are faithful in their giving
  1. This is the best way to finance the kingdom and the biblical way
  2. This is what every minister and church signed on their application
  3. We should be people of our word

Clergy Credentials Were Issued as Follows:

Ordination (3)

  • Rev. Nelson Amaya
  • Rev. Patrick Correlli, Sr.
  • Rev. Mathew Alfred

Minister’s License/MAC Chaplain’s License (2) –

  • Rev. Philip Cheek
  • Rev. Bill Detrick

Local Church Minister’s Certificate (9)

  • Rev. Roslyn Chatman
  • Rev. Alfred Gordon
  • Rev. Melcy Chavez
  • Rev. Santos Hernandez
  • Rev. Abidail Cruz
  • Rev. Nidia Guzman
  • Rev. Olga Caballero
  • Rev. Cristian Cuellar
  • Rev. Obel Cruz

The Memoirs Report was presented by Rev. Correlli, Sr. His report memorialized the life and ministry legacy of Bishop James Wesley Potter using a eulogy that Bishop Wesley Russ had written for Bishop Potter’s memorial service in South Carolina.  Bishop Russ gave me permission to share his eulogy with you.


Bishop James Wesley Potter

“Deeply regret not being able to be present.

Our friendship with Wes and Miss Peggie goes back nearly 40 years.  Without question, the Potters came to the Mid-Atlantic Conference at the right time.  Coming to Baltimore placed him in our strongest missions-supporting church.  Not long after Wesley arrived, he discovered a problem that not only affected his church but the whole conference.  Wes’ leadership qualities were on full display as he quickly brought the problem to light and forged a solution that brought healing to the situation.  It was no surprise to anyone that at the next conference, Wesley was elected to the conference board on which we served together for the rest of his tenure in the conference.

Under his leadership, the Baltimore church experienced growth, and soon it was obvious that a larger facility was needed.  Wesley led in the sale of the old property and the purchase of a new site to be known as Kingsway Christian Center.  The transition from the sale to the start of building on the new property was supposed to take one year.  Three years later, with a dwindling congregation and with Baltimore County throwing every roadblock in the book at them, they were still stuck in a school auditorium.  Wes asked me to speak to his church family on a Sunday night.  There may have been 60 people present – a far cry from the nearly 300 he left the old building with – and some of those wondered why they ever made such a bold move.  Not so with Brother Wesley.  He never looked back and today the Kingsway church is one of the finest facilities in the Mid-Atlantic Conference.  Leadership counts, and Wesley Potter had that in abundance.

It was no surprise when Wes was elected as conference bishop.  Again, under his leadership, the conference experienced rapid growth.  At first, he continued to serve as pastor at Kingsway as well as conference bishop for eight years.  Talk about spinning plates!   Finally, the needs of the conference were such that a pastor was elected for the church and Wesley served the remaining six years of his tenure as full-time bishop.  The MAC owes a great debt to the Potters for their 23 years of sacrificial service.

Wesley loved people and was generous with his time to make each person feel special.  As I visited churches in the conference, I was always asked about the Potters.

The Potters treated us to many fellowship opportunities where pastoral couples could openly share the joys and challenges of ministry.  We shared heart-to-heart and those meetings gave us the courage to press on.

Brother Potter loved to laugh.  He always had a story to tell.  Sometimes the humor was at his own expense.  He was preaching one Sunday and in his message he used the lines from the well-known song, “Home on the Range.”  When he got to the line, “Where the deer and the antelope play,” he said, “Where the deer and the cantaloupe play.”  The congregation burst out laughing.  He looked at Miss Peggie and asked, “Why are they laughing?”  Miss Peggie said, “Wes, it’s not where the cantaloupe play, it’s where the antelope play.”  Wesley said, “That’s what I said – where the deer and the cantaloupe play.”  The people laughed again and Wesley pressed on.

There are way too many personal remembrances to recount – homecoming services, our 25th anniversary celebration with Janna singing our special song, revivals preached, camp meetings, IPHC meetings attended, family visits, phone visits after Wes stepped down as bishop and moved back to South Carolina and then on to Texas.

As you know, Wesley struggled with his memory at the last, and we were not able to speak with him on the phone as before.  Some weeks ago, Miss Peggie called and told me Wesley wanted to speak to me.  He took the phone but then had problems remembering what he wanted to tell me.  Miss Peggie reminded him as she knew the reason he wanted to call.  He said, “I love you, Wes.”  I knew that but it was sweet to my ears to hear him say it.

Now that Wesley has moved into the Father’s House, I know he’ll save me a place at the table and we’ll finish that conversation.

To the family, let me tell you what you already know so well.  Wesley loved you with all his heart—it was a sacrificial love that kept on giving.  As I say, I know you know that, but I pray it will be not only a sweet sound to your ears but a healing balm to your grieving hearts.

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.  All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time!  Amen. Jude 1:24-25”

It was an honor as the presiding officer to recognize the following conference attendees and guests:

  • Marysol Martinez, director, Royal Home Ministries, Falcon Children’s Home
  • David and Jessica Schoch, pastor of the Lonaconing PHC. Pastor Schoch just returned from a trip to the Ukraine and is continuing the church planting legacy of pastor George Loar in that he has planted five churches in the Ukraine in support of Bishop Reshetinsky and Bob Cave’s goal of planting 50 churches there in 2017 and 2018.  Thirty-three churches have been planted this year.  Pastor George Loar planted a total of 83 churches.  Pastor Schoch currently pastors a congregation of 65 people.  Great faith on their part.

I honor Bishop Palomo and his family for their service to the Lord and the IPHC MAC.  Trish and Abel have been married for 27 years.  They have served together in ministry for 22 of those years and have planted 13 churches in this short time span.  Together they have three gifted children who serve alongside them in ministry: Abel (23), Lidia (21), and Bethany (17).  They led our worship time to begin our conference session.

Mid-Atlantic has positioned itself to have a significant and continuing influence for the IPHC in the cultural “melting pot” of the U.S.

May God give Abel and Trish the desires of their hearts!

I was honored to serve this part of our IPHC faith family.

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