Special to the American

Growing up in Goldsboro, N.C., as the youngest of 11 children, Bishop-Elect Geoffrey Vincient Dudley Sr. learned early on to give back to his community.

“I got the zeal for community involvement from my mother,” Dudley said. “She constantly reminded me to get involved, and she’s the one who encouraged me to have an impact wherever I found myself.

At just 13 years old, Dudley, whose father is a bishop in the United Holy Church of America, began ministering himself.

He said, “I was involved in youth activities and then as a young minister. I was always invited to churches that had youth programs to talk with the other kids.”

What he realizes now, he said, is that he was invited to those churches to “showcase me as a good example to others. I know this now, because I’m doing the same thing.”

At Dudley’s O’Fallon, Illinois New Life in Christ Interdenominational Church, he believes in engaging his growing congregation of 2,200 to do more than “what was standard 25 years ago, where you come to church, have a seat and then leave.”

He said, “Our theology is wrapped around the idea that everybody wants to have some impact and leave their mark by being involved in the community in some way.”

Having the fastest growing church in O’Fallon, Dudley may be on to something.

In 2000 Dudley, his wife Glenda and their two children moved to O’Fallon, where Dudley ministered at Scott Air Force Base Chapel. He retired as an Air Force chaplain and began the New Life in Christ Church in 2003 with just 28 followers.

Dudley has served on many boards at one time or another, including the United Way of Greater St. Louis, the O’Fallon District 90 School Board and United Military Chaplains Association. He was the founding president of the O’Fallon/Metro-East Branch of the NAACP, and founder and CEO of New Life Enterprises.

Being involved in the community, to Dudley, means not only giving of his time, but also giving back monetarily.

He gives “without a doubt.”

He gives because it’s important to be involved in the community.

He gives to United Way, he said, because “it’s what I call the miracle of math. By giving what I give, I’m going to touch so many more lives than I’d ever be able to touch otherwise.”

He said, “I’ve only ever received applause because I give to and was on the board of United Way. I’ve never been asked ‘Why United Way?’”

Pastoral anniversary

Life Center International Church Of God In Christ (800 N. Union Blvd.) is celebrating the 9th Pastoral Anniversary of Dr. Elijah H. Hankerson III and Evang. Rachel L. Hankerson.

On Thursday, September 25 at 7:30 p.m. Pastor Norman E. Owens, Jr. of Rhema Church will lead a service. On Friday, September 26 at 7:30 p.m. Bishop Ron L. Webb of Mt. Calvary Powerhouse Church (Poplar Bluff, Mo.) will lead a service. On Sunday September 28 Evang. Shirley Wooten, First Lady of Williams Temple Church of God in Christ, will lead a service at 11 a.m. and Bishop Lemuel F. Thuston of Boone Tabernacle Church of God in Christ (Kansas City, Mo.) will lead a service at 4 p.m.

For more information, call 314-FOR-LIFE.

Free clothes and toys

South Telegraph Christian Church, 7531 Telegraph Rd. will hold its bi-annual free clothing giveaway on Saturday September 27, from 8 a.m. to noon. Free clothes, toys, books, shoes, small household items. For information, call 314-846-2110 or visit www.southtelegraph.org.

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