Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Most Powerful Word In the World

I am a people pleaser. I admit it. I own it and I have finally begun to embrace it. It appears that most people who use labels, label folks as people pleasers as a back handed compliment or a put down but I’ve come to see the flip side of people pleasing now that I’m grown and all of my bills are paid. I used to endeavor to please all of the people, all of the time. I would want to hold on to the folks until my point was sufficiently made and everyone got what I was talking about and everyone fell in love with me and were all in line on the Sterling train…but now through my mature eyes, I understand that everyone is not going to buy what I’m selling, everyone is not going to eat what I’m cooking and everyone is not going to value what I value so I have evolved into a selective people pleaser. Now, I have the wonderful privilege of pleasing the people that please me. I’m good to everyone. I speak to everyone. I answer everyone’s call and everyone’s text and everyone’s inboxed message but I don’t aim to please everyone, I just aim to answer everyone…and here’s why…

I please the people that I want, when I want and the way that I want because God delivered me from an abusive relationship.

A relationship where they would call me with foolishness even when they knew I’d be sleeping.

A relationship where my health and well-being was placed at risk because of their own questionable choices.

A relationship where my voice was not heard, appreciated or respected.

A relationship where random, frequent, persistent dirty looks far greater than any curse word would be sent in my direction at any given time.

A relationship where genuine apologies only existed from me to them…respect was a one way street.

A relationship where I would walk away from conversations wondering why everyone else thinks I’m great except this person that I happen to be stuck in this relationship with.

A relationship where my time was not valued, their word was not honored and mutual respect did not exist.

God delivered me from an abusive relationship. My relationship was an abusive business relationship.

 I never had the abusive physical relationship where:

Your body was a toy instead of a temple.

Your face was a slapping stick instead of a shrine.

Your feelings were tampered with instead of treasured.

Your loyalty was compromised instead of celebrated.

Your feelings were hurt instead of honored.

You spent more time being threatened than being treated, more time being scared than being satisfied and more time in the make up position than in the make it right position.

I’ve only found myself in abusive business relationships but I’ve advised and counselled those in abusive physical relationships and I for one am glad that my Mother told me a long time ago when I was in college to “never treat my wife like she’s a prostitute.”

 I don’t remember how I entered the abusive business relationship but I remember clearly how I exited it. I was summoned to the office at the same time for the same reason and I knew full well that the 3:00 meeting wouldn’t start until 6 and I’d be frustrated and fuming because I’m a stickler for time and the same high levels of disrespect were shown, the same condescending tone was present, the same arrogance, the same nastiness and the same senseless mess. I kept my head down, answered all questions, fulfilled all obligations and went home. When my phone rung the next time, I interrupted my tormentor with two letters. Two letters flipped the script and saved my sanity. Two letters allowed my chains to fly off. Two letters were my Shawshank Redemption. Two letters gave me my free.

No, I can’t.
No, I won’t.
No, I’m not free.
No, I’m not able.
No, I'm sick of this.
No, I’m not interested.
No, I have feelings too.
No, I will not be marginalized.
No, I deserve better and I demand better.
No, you will give me some respect around this piece.
No, swapping my happiness for your happiness is an uneven exchange.

I told my personal jail-keeper NO!

 I approved my own parole.
 I wrote my own pardon.
 I granted my own clemency

…And I am free. Praise the Lord! I’m free. No longer bound! No more chains holding me!

What do you need to be free from today? Who is torturing you? Who is tormenting you? Who is holding the real you hostage? My prayer for you today is the same prayer I prayed last night right after I wrote this- that God grant you the wisdom and courage to tell them NO…and if they don’t accept your NO…then I pray that you will find a stronger adjective to place in front of your NO…and then you will hold your NO even when they try to turn it into a "yes". I am praying for you that you continue to ease on down the road that God has set forth for you.

I love you.

Join me for Bible Study any Thursday at either 12:30 or 7:00 888-628-8983 (toll free)

God’s Best be With You Always,

Rev. Sterling J. Dowling
Pastor, Historic St. James A.M.E. Church

The Heart of Abbeville

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Tragedy of Lost Opportunity

We can be anything that we want to and work hard enough to be. We can do anything that we apply our minds to do. We can go anywhere that we can save the resources and have the capacity to travel to. We can love whomever we decide to love provided they love us back and we can worship wherever we want to worship. The walls have been torn down and now we can be universal. We can Facetime Finland, Skype Swaziland, Tweet Taiwan and Instagram India. We can be, we can do, we can go, we can love, we can visit, we can communicate with who we want, when we want in the mode and medium that we want to when we want to- and that- that freedom-that’s our problem.

Boxes are simple because boxes are easy to be explained and rationalized. Rewind time 200 years and if your Christian name is Baker, then you know you have a lifetime of pastry making ahead of you. If your last name was Preacher or Bishop then you knew where you would be on Sunday morning. If you lived your life as a Carpenter, a Cooper or a (black) Smith then you learned your trade, embraced your trade and mastered your trade so you could keep your family name good. When we live inside boxes our roles are clearly defined- we know that we can shop on the East side of town and dine on the South side of town but we know better than to venture onto the North side for anything because box dwellers just don’t do that. Box dwellers are accustomed to following the ways and mores of society. They have more than 10 statements that start with Thou shalt not this and thou shalt not that- they love restrictions-be home by 7, wake up at 6, settle down after college, have a baby 2.3 years afterwards, then the second 1.6 years thereafter. Box dwellers don’t rock the boat. Box dwellers don’t tip the boat over. If I’m telling the truth, box dwellers don’t even go to the shore unless it’s in their acceptable travel zone- and if it is, they won’t rent the boat until they see the safety records…and put on 3 life vests…and a shower cap…and goggles….and anything else that will sufficiently consume all of the enjoyment out of the experience.

You and I are children of opportunity.  We live in houses with carpeted and hardwood floors- no cardboard in sight. We are writing and living history (at the same, same time). We collect degrees like we used to collect baseball cards. We are credentialed and certified and licensed- we are bona fide and we are verified. There are no walls to restrict us and if such a wall did exist, we would just call our people to deal with their people and hire a contractor to bust the wall up the same way they busted our boxes up. We have in front of us doors that don’t even have hinges on them- our passage through them is sure and assured. Our smart phones remind us to conquer this hamlet today, the other town tomorrow and we have scheduled our way towards world domination. We are power individuals and then we marry and become power couples, we join power fraternal organizations, tithe at  power churches then we take power naps because we can’t sleep as sleep is a sign of weakness and the powerful can’t wear the clothing of the weak…

Then you and I, we waste opportunities, don’t we? You and I have all of the opportunity, we have the banquet set in front of us- the world is our oyster and it’s offering its pearl to us but before we can snatch victory from defeat, we look up and behold 3 red dots on the store and stop in for a package, or we take two pain pills from a surgery 3 years ago just to ease the burden of being perfect, or we call in sick when we feel fine or we look in the mirror and do not like what we see- even when everyone else does. The problem with opportunity is what happens when you waste it? What happens when you know how to do better but you don’t do better? What happens when you think you’re focused, you think you’ve got things together, you think you’re accomplished, you view yourself as a good spouse, a good Christian, a role model, an upstanding member of society, until you get that text from that person. What happens when you’re doing well with your life until you find out that your enemy knows what you did last summer? Really, really, really...what do you do when all of the good that you know and love abandons you as soon as that white pant suit with the red highlights in her hair and the taupe pumps sits at the table right next to/behind you and causes you to forget what your name is?

We live in the land of opportunity but this land moves so fast that sometimes we only get one shot to seize that opportunity and if we don’t, before we know it, we wake up with only a memory of the opportunity and our speech which is normally finely tuned now only consists of 3 phrases- woulda, coulda and shoulda. The question then becomes how do we seize control of our chance when we have it? How do we catch lightning in a bottle? How do we prevent ourselves from waking up with the spirit of regret?


God gave us a life, this life. We have no do-overs. There is no reset button but there is indeed a power off button and before it is that we power off, we are invited to live.

Fall in love with God.

Stay in love with yourself.

Love the one God gave you.

Break generational chains of addiction, disease and insecurity.

Be a good steward over what you have. (Live within your means)

Admire beauty.

Be content. There is a reason God didn’t give you more.

Smell the roses- then send someone flowers to make their day as well.

Look yourself in the eye every day and strive to be proud of the person looking back at you.




Embrace the art of the possible.

Never give up on your dreams.

Never give up on yourself.

I love you and the Heart of Abbeville always welcomes  you.

Bible Study on Thursdays at 12:30 and 7:00 Toll Free 888-628-8983.

Church School at 9:45

Worship at 11:00

203 Henry M. Turner St.*Abbeville, SC* 29620

God’s Best Be With You Always,

Rev. Sterling J. Dowling

Monday, March 30, 2015

Let's Hear it for the Girls!

I left the office at 4:00 on Friday afternoon to drive up to Fountain Inn to rehearse for a Saturday wedding. We were travelling with our 6 pound dog and couldn’t stop at a restaurant to watch the game so Erica and I were frantically searching back and forth on Upstate radio, Satellite radio and Tune In Radio for the Sweet 16 game between the Lady Gamecocks of USC and the Lady Tarheels of North Carolina. We settled for the ESPN site that provided a game tracker experience for her to follow her alma mater’s team. We made it to Mom’s house at halftime and suddenly another crisis appeared: Mom was watching last  night’s scandal on the 50 inch TV in the living room and we were relegated to the (seemingly) 8 inch set in the kitchen…beggars can’t be choosers huh?

The game wound down and I felt a strange phenomena- one that I wasn’t familiar with- for the first time ever… I didn’t want South Carolina to lose…now the Clemson fan in me certainly didn’t want them to win either but I really didn’t want them to lose- it just felt like I was doing wrong when I was rooting against the girls.

 Gentlemen are wanted. Gentlemen are needed. Gentlemen are in short supply and we need a few more gentlemen to root for the girls not only when they are playing on TV but in their daily lives.

Our girls and our ladies are objectified- they are viewed by many as nothing more than meal makers and pleasure providers- let’s root for the girls!

Our girls and our ladies are just as talented as anyone else are but they are still overlooked and underpaid on the open market- let’s root for the girls!

Our girls and our ladies continue to make a dollar out of 15 cents- let’s root for the girls!

Our girls face societal pressures and are called out of their name, disrespected and degraded without a second thought- let’s root for the girls!

Our girls and our ladies are filling dual roles- playing both Mother and Father in many instances and never open their mouths to complain- let’s root for the girls!

It very well may be that you don’t have an opinion on who wins the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship. The phrases “Final Four”, “Regional Final and “Elite Eight” may fly very far over your head and that’s perfectly acceptable- but I bet that you know a girl that stands in the need of encouragement. Can you find time in your schedule to root for her? Will you tell her she looks nice today? Will you compliment her hairstyle or her smile or her eyes? Take a moment to tell her that her dinner was delicious or her style is spectacular or that coral is her color.

I’m asking you to take 10 seconds and make a lady in your life smile today.

Root for the girls, cheer for the girls- pull for the girls and we have no idea what type of champion that they can become.

Contrary to popular belief- girls don’t rule the world- Jesus rules the world…but I firmly believe that girls are a close second.

God’s Best be with you always,

Rev. Sterling J. Dowling

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Go Sit Down Somewhere!

It means something in my world when you stand with someone or for someone. Standing with and behind someone indicates support, agreement and consent. When I got married, I didn’t have anyone standing behind me that I did not love, respect and trust. Early in my ministry, I was asked to be a character witness for a young man accused of burglary. I testified for him and organized a few other church folks to come as well and when it was time for the sentence to be read- he stood, I stood and all of the church folk stood as a symbolic gesture that if you give him time, you’re giving all of us time too because we are with him (thank God he got probation and my record stayed clean.) African Methodists have a wonderful ritual at the final quarterly conference of the year. The Presiding Elder has a delay at the conclusion of the business session and normally doesn’t say what they are asking for but as they scan the congregation, they’re really looking for someone- anyone to stand and formally request the Pastor be returned to the church. At the Annual Conference, members travel to the seat of the meeting and some wait all day just to stand with the Pastor as the annual report for the local church is presented. We stand to be counted in caucuses. We stand to affirm our faith. We stand to honor great men and women when they enter rooms. We stand when we agree. We stand when we are inspired. We stand when we are filled and touched and motivated.

There is a young man whose name I’m familiar with but I refuse to call, who starred in an infamous viral video of a disgusting chant where he vociferously and repeatedly proclaimed that there would “never be a nigger in SAE.” There was no outrage on the bus when it was chanted, there was no rebuke from his fraternity members or corrective action taken on the bus and we can safely assume that if the individual who filmed this had chosen not to publish this, then the young man who chanted his ignorance would be in class…at the University of Oklahoma…right now. The chant was not blog-worthy- neither was the swift and appropriate response from the University. I was happy to see that a hip hop artist decided to cancel his event there but I’m never going to use this space to write something just to write something. I considered the matter closed in my mind until I saw this picture on my phone this morning…

Help me please…why in the wide world of sports (not the phrase I want to use) are these ebony individuals of stature standing behind this young man of limited vocabulary?

I am prayerfully looking for the day where the African-American church and our community organizations are no longer used as caricatures and pawns that are marginalized, ridiculed and ignored by the majority culture…until we can serve as a “get out of jail free” image booster card for them. What support does the Oklahoma Black Caucus chairperson have to offer this guy? Why would any self-respecting Pastor take 2 seconds away from their parish to stand and be photographed with this clown? What is the long-term benefit of this for the community that you represent Mr. Urban Leaguer- Mr. Rainbow Coalition representer? Is 30 seconds of your face on MSNBC worth supporting an adolescent whose apology wasn’t even an apology- did you notice that he didn’t even answer the one question that everyone wanted him to answer of “Who taught you that chant in the first place?” He didn’t sell out his people with his apology but you misrepresented your people with your presence!

Do you want to know why our institutions are no longer respected to the degree that they once were? Would you like a theory to explain why people roll their eyes when Sharpton, Jesse and Farrakhan hit the screen? Perhaps the reason that our problems are getting bigger and our marches are getting smaller is that we are too busy mugging for someone’s camera- we’re too busy scratching where we don’t itch and laughing when there’s nothing funny. The folks who stood behind the young man said that they weren’t going to throw him away and would continue to work with him in the future…I’m sorry, is there a bigot rehab program? Did Donald Sterling graduate? Paula Deen? Michael Richards? We all know that George Zimmerman dropped out but where is this place and how do we enroll some of the hate spewing thugs in our lives?

There is a passage of scripture in the 8th Chapter of the book of Acts where Peter rebukes Simon the sorcerer and tells him to have his money perish with him because he thought he could buy the gift of God with money. You know and I know that some check was written somewhere for these appearances on yesterday. There must be a few things that just aren’t for sale- our dignity is one of them. I wish he had called one of my mentors with this foolishness- we would have given him a chant all right- his tune may have changed slightly…

There will never be a nigger in SAE…
And I can’t find one person of color to stand with me…

Stand for Something or Fall for Anything,

Rev. Sterling J. Dowling

Monday, March 23, 2015

How I Found My Heart...A Love Letter to Abbeville


Dear Abbeville,

       The first best friend that I ever knew was a brilliant Nigerian named Eyitayo Onifade- we called him Tayo for short. Tayo and I were freshmen roommates at Morehouse College Atlanta, GA and one day we were on the train going to either the mall or the movies and I was complaining about one of the brothers on campus and I distinctly remember that he cut me off- shot me a stone cold look and changed my life with these words..."Sterling, your problem is that you want everyone to like you- if people like you then you're happy and if they don't like you, then you go all the way out of your way to make them like you...Tayo I don't give a hoot (he didn't say hoot) if people like me or not." Tayo taught me that day about myself when he read me on those plastic seats the valuable lesson that I had to immediately stop worrying about the way people responded to me and simply be the best, organic, unique, original me that I could be. I began making adjustments in my life from that day up to and including transferring home to South Carolina State University when I determined taking care of my Great-Grandmother with Alzheimers was more important than the prestige that a degree from the 'House would afford me.

       I moved home and was thrust into a continual call on my life to preach the Gospel. I wanted to serve my community as a civil rights attorney and all I could think of, focus on and daydream about was the relatively pauper life of a preacher. I preached my initial sermon at the age of 20 and the worst thing in the world happened...everyone loved it! I was preaching across the state of South Carolina and 20 would be saved one night, 17 the next night, as many as 40 at a time would give their heart to Jesus. Ministry was exploding and in just 3 short years, I looked up and saw that I had preached in each of the six annual conferences in South Carolina- from the mountains to the ocean. 

     God blessed me with my first church in 2004. I went to Anderson as a 24 year old idealist and when I saw 12 people in the pews the first Sunday of December, I quietly told myself that I was going to fail and even considered (for 5 minutes) not returning the 2nd Sunday. Then another tragedy occured...the church exploded with growth- folks started coming from everywhere- ministries were born, choirs were formed- souls were saved- love was clear and present and real...and the reason that it was a tragedy is that I got lazy, I became complacent and I stopped praying.

***Ok, Abbeville I'm pausing in the letter now- this is your Pastor speaking. Can you join me in admitting that sometimes conditions in your life have caused you to stray away from praying? Sometimes we don't only refuse to pray when things are real bad but sometimes we stop praying when things are real good- we stop praying when God is being so good that somehow we fool ourselves into thinking that we are performing what God is actually doing- what a recipe for a disaster! I'm man enough to admit that I served the church on auto-pilot for a year or so- I knew when I stood up what was going to be said, when it was going to be said and how it was going to be done before it was going to be done and while I loved the people- while I consider the members of Fairview family to this day, because of my faulty prayer life, although the church's money was right, the membership was right and the Spirit was right, I was playing with fire because I wasn't seeking God's face enough.***

(letter resumes below)

      My Bishop saw fit to assign me to Abbeville in October and when I was called into the back room on my first Sunday to see several stone faced Stewards, it was clear that my life had changed- I bet I prayed then! I walked upstairs to see more purple pews than peopled pews and I prayed some more. I saw a few documents reserved for my eyes only and they caused me to pray in tongues. I prayed driving home- the first 2 months, I did two things driving home: cried as a result of my grief of leaving Fairview and prayed for God's hand to move in and on St. James. I am convinced as I've seen God work not only in St. James but in the membership of St. James and I can see through my faith eye what God will do for Abbeville through St. James- I am convinced that God knows what he is doing...and in order for me to know what I need to be doing, I need to pray and pray without ceasing.

     Dear Abbeville, I found my heart when I was on my knees- now le'ts do something radical for the kingdom- let's transform St. James into the Heart of Abbeville. I don't believe St. James is purposed to grow with recycled members from other churches that may be disgruntled at the moment but I believe that there are enough unsaved, un-churched, un-reached sisters and brothers in Abbeville that will fill both levels of our sanctuary...and I believe we can win them for Christ. Abbeville, join me in knocking on doors, making phone calls, texting, inboxing, emailing and conference calling to let our friends know that the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life. Let's make God proud of us...let's put thugs on pews next to teachers and gangsters on the same row as gardeners and hoodlums next to health care workers- let's bring Abbeville under one roof and see what happens when all of God's children get together. I believe that the end result just may be called the church.

God's Best Be With You Always,



Wednesday, March 18, 2015

You Gone Learn Today...Easter for the Thug in Your Life

I used to think thugs were cool. I used to think that they were funny…and stylish…and ahead of their time. I never wanted to be a thug but I am man enough to admit a healthy amount of appreciation for them when they would show up in a car much nicer than mine, wearing clothes that were exempted from the coupons that I used and paying for their purchases with a much larger wad of bills than I owned. I used to think thugs were cool. I used to admire their swag, their language and their quick wit. I allowed myself to experience thug culture and shot hoops with thugs, played dominoes and spades with thugs and rode thugs around in my car once or twice- I used to admire thugs…then I grew up.

I grew up, I got a job…then I got another job, I got married, got a mortgage then I really started having a problem with thugs. Growing up mentally, emotionally and spiritually does something to you- it provides you with a standard and the standard that maturity gives you changes you whether you like it or not. The standard haunts men (it doesn’t affect thugs) but it literally scares the devil out of grown behind men. The standard says “take care of your family”, the standard says “go straight home”, the standard says “love your wife even when you don’t like your wife”, the standard says “your wife doesn’t pump her own gas”, the standard says “your wife doesn’t touch garbage”, the standard says “your wife doesn’t open her own doors or kill her own bugs or buy her own medicine when she's not feeling well”. The standard doesn’t change when we’re sick- the standard doesn’t change when we’re at work- the standard doesn’t change when we’re tired- the standard doesn’t change because the standard can’t change- that’s why it’s a standard- you step up to meet it but the standard will never bow down to meet you.

Thugs laugh hysterically at our standard- they sit in cars while their women pump gas, they ride around all day while their women work to pay bills that they run up- their values, motives and ambitions are different. Thugs grab themselves when I walk by and ask “hey Mr. Preacher man, what’s the good word Rev?” Well, Mr. Thug are you reading? Take out a pen- you may need it.

There are many plots and sub-plots of the Passion story of Jesus- many twists of betrayal and dishonesty and abandonment and pain and suffering but recently I’ve been viewing an event of the cross as Jesus’ direct message to the thug(s) in our lives.

Jesus is on the cross between two political revolutionaries. Jesus is on the cross between two terrorists- two men who killed to advance an ideology- two men who were so self-centered that they didn’t care that they made other men’s wives into widows and they didn’t shy away from turning children into orphans. Jesus is on the cross between FBI most wanted #1 and FBI most wanted #2. Jesus is on the cross between Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and the Bible says that one of them turned to him and insulted Jesus- one of them decided to embrace thug life even until the bitter end. The Bible then tells us that the other thug first tells the other thug off then looks at Jesus and asks to be remembered when Jesus enters his kingdom. Jesus reminds us why he is the greatest man that we know and why he is the perfect lamb of God by looking at this dirty, evil thug and saying “TODAY” “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Jesus says to the thug in all of our lives:

You gone learn today that grace and mercy is worth more than bombs and bullets.

You gone learn today that you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.

You gone learn today that you can’t beat me in giving- no matter how you try.

You gone learn today that you can’t save yourself.

You gone learn today that I love all of my Father’s children.

You gone learn today that I will forgive even the nastiest sinner and the vilest offender.

You gone learn today that I can give you more than you can steal.

From the cross- with stress on his head and stress on his hands and stress on his  feet and blood pouring off of him- from the cross with his clothes being torn and his body being ripped apart- Jesus takes time to focus on the thugs that are in our lives and on our nerves…Jesus wasn’t finished…

Thugs treat women as objects and disposable items but Jesus took time from the cross to make sure his Mother was taken care of by John, the disciple that he loved.

Thugs live only for today- Jesus says if you accept this free gift, I’ll make sure you live forever.

Thugs abandon their responsibilities and pay what they want when they want- Jesus accepted their sin, their debt and their responsibilities and he paid it all.

Thugs always have something in their hands that they can sip on- Jesus only thirst from the cross was for righteousness.

Thugs don’t care how they treat people- Jesus says “Father, forgive them."

Thugs are Inappropriate on Instagram, Trifling on Twitter and Foolish on Facebook. Thugs “don’t do church.” Thugs can’t be bothered and Jesus says…hallelujah he still says “There is room at the cross for you, too.”

Jesus shouts to the thug from the cross many things but the greatest of these is “It’s time to change…and it’s time to change…today.”

I’m hoping I see some thugs at St. James on Easter Sunday. If I can rub shoulders with a few thugs in the Heart of Abbeville at 6 AM, I’ll let them know that all other redeemers that we turn to to help us in times of trouble like Jack Daniels, Johnny Walker and Remy Martin are dead…but our Redeemer lives…then I’ll feed the thug some breakfast at 7:30. If God chooses to send a thug through the door at 10:00, I’ll let them know that the very strong case against us for putting Jesus on the cross was dismissed for lack of evidence…then I’ll feed the thug the body and the blood of a risen savior and remind them that God desires to give us clean, fresh starts- that God wants to expunge our records and we can begin a new, good, sweet, true, fulfilling life…today.

God’s best be with you always,

Rev. Sterling J. Dowling

Thursday, February 19, 2015

SCSU and the Absentee Legislature

I believe that there are certain things that you just shouldn’t get credit for…

Paying your bills on time.

Respecting your Elders.

Staying faithful to your spouse.

Providing for your children.

Having your family’s back.

Loving God with all your heart, soul and mind.

Loving your neighbor as you love yourself.




There are some things that grown, mature, responsible human beings just do. We do them without form and we do them without fashion and we do them without calling the newspaper simply because they are the right thing to do. How foolish would I be if I nominated myself for husband of the year each time that I killed a spider or woke my wife up at her specified time from a nap or took her to get a massage. I don’t sound a trumpet- I don’t pull an alarm when I take care of my wife because looking after her is what I’m supposed to do! It’s what I promised God, my family, her family, my friends and her friends that I would do on June 9, 2007 and quite frankly the way that I handle my husbandly business is really no one else’s business…

Here’s my point:

I received a news bulletin today that the State of South Carolina no longer intends to pursue a proviso that would shut down my beloved South Carolina State University. Instead, the story in the press goes on to mention that the legislature will pay closer attention to the election of Trustees at SCSU because there are people who are invested, elected and entrusted to run the school who would never be elected to the board of one of the State’s “flagship” schools. The story further noted that the President and entire board of Trustees would be fired and control for the school will be turned over to the State Budget and Control Board for future, strict oversight…

This story has popped up on social media to a cacophony of “Hallelujah’s” and “Thank You Jesus” responses. I haven’t shouted over this news yet and here’s why:

SCSU was NEVER going to close!!! Never! Not once! The well trumpeted vote by the Higher Education Sub-Committee can best be described as an attention-grabbing temper tantrum. There was no way under the sun that the State of South Carolina was going to voluntarily surrender accreditation for a school that they are responsible for only to spend taxpayer dollars to sponsor scholarships to another one of their (marginally overcrowded) schools. SCSU was NEVER in danger of closing. I knew that, most of you knew that and the legislature knew that so 3 of the 4 people who voted to close it last week opted to embarrass the University with a token, meaningless vote that was squarely aimed at generating and producing a headline.

I didn’t cut a rug or enter a praise break when I received the story today because all the Legislature has promised to do concerning SCSU is what they already should have been doing towards SCSU! South Carolina State should have never had an opportunity to amass this debt or be in this predicament because:

Legislative oversight should have ensured that SCSU was properly funded.

The legislature should have monitored resources both in and out of SCSU both during and after the economic downturn of 2008.

The legislature should have performed a full audit once the chairman of the board of Trustees was indicted for public corruption.

The legislature should have resisted the attempts of other colleges and universities to dilute the course offerings that were unique to SCSU by duplicating them at their own institutions. 

The legislature should have paid as close attention to who is on the board at State as they do concerning their research institutions in Columbia and Clemson.

 So, forgive me if I sit this celebration out. I choose not to get in the Spirit when Husbands, Wives, Stewards, Trustees, Legislatures do what they are supposed to do.

I am not excited that the absentee legislature of South Carolina has now a firm and vested interest in the school that shaped me- instead, I ask those who write my laws the same question that any child would that’s just meeting someone that claims to be their Father for the first time…

Where in the world have you been for so long?

God’s Best be With You Always,

Rev. Sterling J. Dowling