SPOTLIGHT: a projected spot of light used to illuminate brilliantly a person, object, or group on a stage.
Over the past few months we had been praying about transitioning from the Pausing With God quarterly magazine to something different for the new year. When I received this wonderful article about my cousin, I couldn’t wait to share her with you all.
HARTFORD — The Rev. Cleo Graham, a New Haven native, has accepted a call to serve as pastor of Faith Congregational Church United Church of Christ in Hartford.
The Faith Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ is a historic church, located at 2030 Main St. The brick Romanesque Revival-style building, completed in 1872, houses the Faith Congregational Church, whose lineage includes the city’s oldest African American congregation. It was established in 1819. To learn more, visit https://faithmatterstoday.org/
“The UCC is the first denomination to ordain a black man,” members said in a statement. “It is the first to ordain a woman into ministry in this nation. We are a historic local church, having taken part in the nation’s first civil rights case, the Amistad trial, where the captives on the ship La Amistad were eventually set free. Faith Church raised significant dollars for the captive’s defense.”
The Rhode Island Conference UCC ordained Graham in 2013. Next, she co-pastored at Hope Congregational Church in East Providence, then served Beneficent Congregational Church for seven years. Beneficent’s community outreach programs, weekly open sanctuary sessions, and service to the sick, homeless, and aging populations of East Providence were a model for how people of all backgrounds can come together for the greater good, according to a statement. She was also asked to serve as Vice President of Administration for the Rhode Island Conference Board of Directors, a post she held for two years.
Graham earned degrees from Adelphi University, Columbia University, Andover Newton Theological School. Zion Bible College and the University of Rhode Island crystalized her desire to serve the lord. Retirement from a productive career as a licensed Nationally Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Diabetes Specialist paved the way. Over the years she has received many awards and accolades over the years including the recent YMCA Women of Achievement Award.
Trained as a Racial Justice Facilitator, leading spiritual retreats and symposiums increased her popularity while filling a need to address today’s racial divide. Travels to LaRomana, Dominican Republic, Israel, and Germany broadened her missionary work.
“From Mess to Message,” is a poetic reflection of her challenging journey through pain and suffering. Also check out “A Child Laughs: Prayers of Justice and Hope.”
Cleo invites everyone to “Park and Pray” at 1:11 p.m. Also read her Prayer Ministry blog at www.parkandprayat111.com
Graham and her husband Melvin have two sons and three grandchildren. They enjoy researching family genealogy and have traced our family roots on our paternal grandfather’s side back to the early seventeen-hundreds. The Simmons’ side of the family spawned nine churches and included poets, midwives, teachers, and politicians. “We’ve witnessed similar patterns in every generation since. We all, as a people, stand on the shoulders of giants,” Graham said.
Courtesy of Living section of New Haven Register