Oct06

First Lady Files: LaDora King

“You should be here to serve and not be served,” says LaDora King,  wife to Melvin H. King of Divine Deliverance Ministries.

“If you’re going to wear the title of first lady, you should be the first one to do anything in ministry. You’re the example. These people need you.

“Some people will only see Jesus through us,” says King, who became a first lady at age 24.

Six years and two churches later, she also feels she has grown more spiritually.

“As a woman you definitely have to be secure within yourself. You have to know who you are in order to allow God to use you in the ministry no matter how old you are,” says the Los Angeles native who puts ministry before marriage and family.

For all her wisdom, King is also the daughter of a pastor – Rev. A.J McGlothen former pastor of Mount Hope Missionary Baptist Church – and grew up watching her mother.

“Everything that my mom did I’m doing now,” says the mother of three children.  “All I knew as a kid was church but it wasn’t until I actually put my shoes on as a first lady that I realized why my mom had the relationship she did with God—because people will come to you with their different issues and if you don't have anything to give to them, you will go crazy.”

Jokes aside, the fulltime orthopedic surgeon’s assistant says her utmost challenge is to slow down and take care of herself.

“My testimony as a first lady is being an overcomer, knowing that if I’m in His will there is nothing that I cannot conquer.”

Sep04

First Lady Files: April Weeden-White

A groundbreaking Hollywood stuntwoman, April Weeden-White was intimidated but not surprised when she married a bishop and took a role as First Lady.

“Since I was a little girl my friends and family could see that I was groomed for this,” says the wife of renowned Bishop John White Dominion of CC Marketplace Ministries. “So when I started letting people know that I was marrying a pastor they said, ‘Oh, that’s perfect for you!’”

For the accomplished actress, singer and dancer, who has doubled for Halle Berry and Gabrielle Union and has appeared in over 400 feature films, TV shows and commercials, becoming a minister’s wife was new territory.

“For me it was very scary,” says the D.C. born entertainer. “And I felt like I almost wasn’t worthy, because I’m like, “Lord, you put this wonderful man in my path and now we’re getting married--Can I live up to the expectations?’”

Unbeknownst to her, the gifted, award-winning mentor was already practicing many of the acquired responsibilities.

“It was kind of like a natural progression,” says the mother of one, whose biggest challenge is balancing her careers with the large blended family she married into.

“My whole entire career I have never forgotten the lord,” says April, who was once a ballerina with the Black Dahlia Jazz Company. “I’ve traveled all over the world, but I never took God out of the equation. No matter where I was no matter what country I was in, I’ve made sure I found a church that I could go in and worship.”

Jul03

First Lady Files: Betty Griffin-Keller

From touring all over the world to performing for Queen Elizabeth II, one of singer Rev. Betty Griffin-Keller’s favorite memories is performing live at the 1990 Grammy Awards Show with the late Rev. James Cleveland and the Southern California Community Choir.

“It was so delightful working with him,” she says of the gospel giant known as the visionary behind contemporary gospel. “The Reverend was of few words but they were powerful words.”

For thirteen years until his death the first lady of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Pasadena was one of three lead vocalists for Rev. James Cleveland and the Cleveland Singers.

“That was unbelievable to me because as a child I used to hear his music on the radio in Ohio. I never dreamed nor was it in my thoughts that one day I would be singing for him,” said Griffin-Keller, a preacher’s daughter, who sang her first choir solo at age four.

Now, the wife of Rev. Billie R. Keller and mother of three, who also sang back up vocals for Ray Charles, Elton John and Stevie Wonder, teaches  gospel music class at Pasadena City College.

She is also a seven-year breast cancer survivor and has become an advocate for the disease.

“One thing I try to tell all women is you don’t have to be ashamed to let others know so they can pray for you. At first I had no one to turn to or ask questions. Now I’m adamant about letting people know what to expect.

Jun04

First Lady Files: Colleen Hendricks

Setting out to disprove what is for some the perception that soon after couples tie the knot the relationship eventually becomes cold and lifeless, Colleen Hendricks and her husband Pastor Robert Hendricks of New Testament Church of Christ Holiness are penning a book together they titled “Married Not Buried.”

“Our book will reveal some secrets of staying true to love and maintaining tranquility and romance,” says Hendricks, who has been married over thirty years.

Hendricks and her husband got the idea for the book after starting a One Flesh Ministry at the church where they counsel couples together.

“That’s my heart that’s my ministry is to share the marriage that we have. We want all the other marriages to be as happy as we are,” said the mother of two.

“I just know that my gift is to teach young women to love themselves, to honor themselves and know that they’re worthy of a good man, don’t just settle for anything that comes but to just wait on the Lord and do his work.”

So what’s her most important piece of advice?

“We tell couples if you want to have a good fight, be sure to take your off clothes, and when they come back for their next counseling session, they’re like, ‘What fight? We didn't fight.’”

May06

First Lady Files: Veronica Alexander

Veronica Alexander of Price Chapel AME Church in Los Angeles had an upbringing that one would believe prepared her for the arduous role of first lady.

“I always loved being at church.  It never felt like a chore to me. I never cared about getting up early for Sunday school, staying all day, going home, for lunch and coming back for evening service, volunteering, and hanging out after,” says the new first lady who married Reverend Alexander in May 2012.

That’s not to say she always knew where her calling was. One of her passions—reaching out to military families through majoring in chaplaincy—she discovered too late and missed the age cut off.

“Some opportunities are missed,” says Alexander, who wasn’t discouraged. “It’s good if you have a guidance in your life, to identify your passion, and your purpose, to recognize your strengths as early as you can—so you set your course very early.

“It caused me to realize that I needed to reconsider how I might use my gifts and talents,” says the assistant director for development at UC Irvine School of Law.

So the mother of three and stepmother of one immersed herself in her role as the new first lady and helps wherever she is needed.

“I try to identify the task that is the least popular and do it. And I have learned to smile a lot. Not from a place that’s routine but from being very grateful for all the things that people do as volunteers in a church. When I walk in I think how blessed I am to be in the presence of others who love God as much as I do.”

Apr08

First Lady Files: Karla Augustine

“I really believe that my upbringing in the church shaped who I am,” says Karla Augustine, first lady of Live Oak Missionary Baptist Church. “When I have challenges I am able to fall back on my faith because I got it at an early age. It holds me together and it keeps me together.”

As a matter of fact, her faith helped her grapple with doubts concerning becoming a first lady.

“I definitely knew that it was a major commitment but I was up for it,” says the UC San Diego alumnus. “It wasn’t in the plans, but the Lord just had to change my life.”

Since coming to Live Oaks MBC with her husband Michael five years ago, Augustine has formed a woman’s Bible study.

“We keep one another encouraged by group study and Bible study,” says Augustine, who works in provider relationships for a medical group.

“We’re all the same. We’re all women. I’m no better than them because I am the first lady. In the five years, we’ve all gone through things together that lets us see how much we need God and we need each other. We can’t do it alone.”

Says Augustine, “I’ve truly learned what it means to be a woman of God, a wife and an example to others through the first lady role and how to be a positive example to others.”

First Ladies High Tea
November will mark the 20th Anniversary of our Annual First Ladies High Tea, honoring the contributions of female leaders and women of faith to the Los Angeles community. For more information, visit www.firstladieshightea.com
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