By Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Bernstine
The incredibly engaging pastor of the historic Davis Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. Cassandry Keys, has done what no other woman has done. She preached a Pastor’s Appreciation at a Baptist Church in Richmond, California.
Although delighted to have received the invitation to preach at Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Bernstine’s 7th Year Appreciation, she had no idea that she was making history.
Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, a historic symbol of the staunch conservatism of Christian patriarchy, enthusiastically joined their pastor in the journey to accepting women in ministry. Pastor Keys was not the first woman to preach at BMBC, nor was it her first time preaching at BMBC.
Pastor Bernstine has led three congregations in embracing women ministers, with Bethlehem being the most accepting. Little known in the history of BMBC is that in the early 50s, founding pastor Rev. Nathaniel Phanor licensed three women to Christian ministry, Millie Bernstine (the pastor’s aunt), Agnes Waitley, and Della Harris, all of whom now are deceased.
Noteworthy is that the speaker for the 10:45 a.m. worship was the Rev. Dr. J. Alfred Smith, Sr., Pastor Emeritus of Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland. Dr. Smith has been the vanguard for women in ministry in Northern California.
During the morning service, Dr. Smith announced that he and Pastor Bernstine will be leading a doctoral cohort at United Theological Seminary beginning January 2014. Rev. Keys has indicated that she will be a part of the cohort.
During the 3 p.m. celebration, Rev. Keys mesmerized the BMBC congregation with a sermon from Jeremiah, “When the Thrill is Gone.”