BY LOUIS C. WARD
LEESBURG – The Macedonia Church of the Living God (MCLG) Founder’s Day Celebration recognized the dedication to holiness, the untiring work, and the inspiration of Elder Dr. Lula P. Richardson who started the Christian congregation in 1954 and was its shepherd for 41 years Sunday, January 28, 2024.
The well-organized spiritual event was held at MCLG, a community church located at 1610 Griffin Road in Leesburg, Florida. The program included an informative discourse from keynote speaker Bishop Dr. Eugene Reeves, and heartfelt tributes from Bishop Carolyn H. Glenn, Presiding Elder Estella Hilbert, Bishop Mae Frances Chester, and Church Mother Shirley Ward. Every one of them benefitted spiritually under the tutelage of Dr. Richardson.
A large diverse group of pastors, ministers, deacons, other local congregation members, friends, and supporters were attracted to the Founder’s Day Celebration which also highlighted its 70 years of providing worship services, sponsoring community events that improved the lives of local residents, and supporting residents in local issues that adversely affected the community.
Quoting Scriptural texts; Isaiah 28:16, Matthew 16:16, and Psalms 124, keynote speaker Bishop Reeves engrossed the audience with his message: “If It Had Not Been for the Lord, Who Was on Our Side…”
Bishop Reeves recognized the legacy of Elder Richardson, highlighting the difficult obstacles women preachers faced during 1954 when she started Macedonia CLG, holding worship service at a storefront building.
Bishop Reeves said, “If it wasn’t for her vision, we would not be here today. Now, we acknowledge her legacy. When it comes from God, it will last.” Referring to the pushback against ordaining women pastors and ministers, Bishop Reeves said, “When it comes to gender, I look at the spirit, not the gender.”
“70 is a special number,” Bishop Reeves informed the audience who came to celebrate the special occasion and to support Reverend Dr. Shelia Y. Smalley, present pastor of Macedonia CLG, and the great niece of Elder Dr. Richardson and the daughter of MCLG Emeritus Pastor Juanita Smalley, who became pastor immediately after Dr. Richardson and shepherded the church for 18 years.
“70 symbolizes fullness, restoration, endpoint, completion. In Hebrew it means holiness and perfection,” continued Bishop Reeves.
Alluding to the negativity and corruption presently permeating the country, Bishop Reeves said we live in a time when right is wrong, and wrong is right. When a lie is truth and truth is a lie.
“Lying has become normalized. People are trying to make sin alright. You can’t tell the club from the church,” Bishop Reeves continued. The importance of building on a strong foundation was the gist of Bishop Reeves’ remaining discourse.
“Jesus Christ is your foundation!” Bishop Reeves commanded. “God constitutes a strong foundation. Build a strong foundation on the inside. It doesn’t matter what happens on the outside.” Bishop Reeves told the audience to check the materials before you build. If you use bad ingredients, you’re going to get a bad product.”
“Some people build their foundation on pleasure. Don’t build on worldly pleasures. Pleasure comes and goes. Don’t get drawn into the pleasure pit,” concluded Bishop Reeves.
Christian entertainment provided by Macedonia’s praise and worship team and the New Life Dancers enhanced the program, both groups’ performances delivered spiritually touching renditions of song and dance.
“It was an anointed and exciting service from the beginning to the end,” said Dr. Smalley. “Bishop Reeves, a great man of God, delivered a great Word. Everyone on the program was full of the ‘Holy Spirit.’ ”
“It’s encouraging to continue the legacy of Elder Dr. Lula P. Richardson. I believe we will serve the community much more, meeting its needs in a greater and mighty way, concluded Dr. Smalley, who was installed as Pastor of MCLG in 2013.
“The Founder’s Day Program at Macedonia Church of the Living God Sunday evening was an event to remember because of the wonderful singing, the dance performers, and the powerful and enlightening message from the Bishop,” remarked Carolyn Samuel. “Elder Richardson and Elder Smalley would have been so inspired by the 70th celebration of the church’s beginning.”
Tay Kiner said, “Mind blowing service. The performers, dancers were phenomenal. Good old Church.”