Bishops honored at ‘Love Day’

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Atmore Mayor Jim Staff talks about the good community service work of Dr. Bernard Bishop and Felicia Bishop’s ministries, as they listen during Monday’s “Love Day” celebration.

Atmore Mayor Jim Staff talks about the good community service work of Dr. Bernard Bishop and Felicia Bishop’s ministries, as they listen during Monday’s “Love Day” celebration.

It was fitting that Monday night’s celebration at Deliverance Ministry of Jesus Christ was called a “Love Day.” The theme of love was present throughout the night, including love of community, love of family, love of service and love of God.

The Love Day Celebration was held in honor of the 14th year of service for Dr. Bernard Bishop and his wife, Felicia Bishop.

Bernard serves as the district bishop for Deliverance Ministry of Jesus Christ, and his Dr. Bishop Ministries sponsors a variety of events for young people, senior citizens and many others in the community. Felicia is an Evangelist for Deliverance Ministry of Jesus Christ, enjoys singing gospel music, and also assists with community events like the “Stomp the Yard” youth rally and Senior Appreciation Day.

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Church members from as far as Montgomery and New Orleans attended Monday’s event, as did city leaders like Atmore Mayor Jim Staff. The Rev. Bo Bell, pastor of New Beginnings in Brewton, was the guest speaker for the night.

“This is as close as Atmore and Brewton have been together in quite some time,” Staff joked, before expressing his appreciation to the Bishops for their work in the community. “It’s just great to see everyone out here tonight.”

The Rev. Kelvin Williams, pastor of Deliverance Ministry of Jesus Christ, said that the only other time he had seen the church so full was during a funeral.

“We thank God tonight for this grand crowd,” said Williams, who is Bishop’s older brother. “We came together for a good reason tonight. It wasn’t for death, but for an abundance of life.”

Chief Apostle Hattie Bishop spoke about her son, Bernard, and his two brothers who were in attendance — Williams and Apostle Derrick Bishop.

“When [Bernard] was a little boy, he was always the type that if he set his mind to do something, he’d stay up all night to do it,” she said.

Derrick told his brother that his love continues to be strong, even today, and he was very impressed with the great things that his ministry has done.

“I want you to know tonight that we’ve got your back,” he said. “You’ve got family on your side.”

When Bell gave his sermon late in the ceremony, he joked that he was like Bishop’s “white brother.”

“I don’t know of another man of God who can bring together this many churches, of this many ages and this many colors,” said Bell, who repeatedly brought the crowd to its feet with boisterous preaching and a positive message. “The cross has made me his brother!”

Bell especially praised Bishop’s ministry to prisoners, and noted that Bell himself had once been in prison and addicted to drugs.

“God has sent you out to the battlefield because you are a warrior, not a whiner,” Bell said, speaking to Bishop. “I can tell you that to this day, Satan gets a black eye every time that [Bernard and Felicia] wake up.”

One of the evening’s final speakers was not even listed on the program, but earned perhaps the largest applause of all. Sylvester Sikes Jr., who lives in Geneva County, was once a prisoner at Fountain Correctional Facility when he met Bishop through the prison ministry.

Sikes said that he was able to earn his release ahead of his parole date, and was able to sober up and turn his life around.

“I wanted to come here tonight and show [Bernard] that I had his back,” Sikes said. “God blessed me, through him.”

Bishop said he was humbled and overwhelmed by the community’s show of support and solidarity.

“All I have to say is ‘Wow!’ tonight,” he said. “I am so honored to see how God has pulled together so many people from all across the Gulf coast. Thank you.”

Other notable speakers and performers for the night included Diane Leslie, who provided the welcome; Shanna McMillian of Montgomery, who preformed a tribute in dance; and musical performers including Michelle Bradley, Kayla Richardson, the New Beginnings praise and drama team, and Endurance.