black music history is alive at Saint andrew Presbyterian
As the ‘black church’ has served as a most significant part of the History of the United States,
during this Black History month I (we) find great pride in the roots that our forefathers and
mothers within the awesome legacy have left for us. In my family there were/are great healers,
circuit preaching, evangelizing, and just plain ‘living right’ as my ancestors proudly proclaimed,
shouted, and cried tears of joy when they sang: “I’m Going On”. We CANNOT move on without
revisiting that third verse that declared: “I See a shining crown awaiting over there, I see a
mansion, fall prepared, as in the ancient day”. As a child, I remember first hearing those
beloved words, then singing them, and later accompanying the saints on the piano as they sang
that verse over and over! My Mom would do the “Church of God’ shout - by walking back and
forth and holding up her right hand at half-mask as she led worship, crying, and at times almost
screaming out the words as she scrunched her eyes as tears poured down her face in ultimate
praise to the King of Kings that she loved and totally adored!.
My Mom, the Rev. Dr. Odies B. Early, was the mother of seven children, the daughter of
sharecroppers, the wife of Rev. John H. Early, and LOVED the Church of God with all of her
heart and ALL of her soul! AS far as she was concerned, much like the thesis of Rev. Golf
Young, the Lord was coming back for ONLY the Church of God, Anderson, Indiana. My
grandfather, her dad, was Rev. Charlie Myers, who owned a Pecan Plantation in Deatsville,
ALA., was pursued by the Klu Kux Klan due to the fact that it was not acceptable for a ‘negro’ to
own almost 300 acres of land, and because of his being part Native American, he was
considered handsome in that day, and viewed as a threat. He loved his wife, took care of their
twelve children, cared for those less fortunate around him, and nurtured his love for the Word of
God. He believed in his wife’s dream to build a church, and I am told that my grandmother
requested seed money from her then adult children and their spouses, to begin the building of
the ministry that still stands and is now known as the Rosa Parks Church of God in Montgomery,
ALA. She ‘labored in the vineyard’, and provided natural as well as spiritual food for those in
her neighborhood who were in need. Her anthem: “Oh Church of God, I love thy courts”, was
the theme of her life’s ministry.
Rev. Lila M. Myers, lovingly known as ‘Motha’ (not Mother) Myers was a renowned faith healer.
My memory as a child was witnessing many of the saints come into our home quite debilitated,
even in wheelchairs, and would leave walking after “Motha” Myers prayed the prayer of faith.
She was an avid believer in giving out ‘hankies’ that she would actually wear on her body and
pray for. Much like Paul in the biblical text, “ God was performing extraordinary miracles by the
hands of Paul (Acts 19:11 NASB). The great thing that I remember about my grandmother, is
that she faithfully fasted 40 days at the time, was blind, but when she preached would quote the
verse she requested before anyone could find it and read it out loud. My Mom inherited her gifts
in believing God for miracles. She was known as the one that prayed for people to have
children. The story I remember best, is her speaking of praying for Sis. Odell, (pastor’s wife),
who was at that time childless, and after Mom prayed, Sis. Odem had I believe 9 boys, and
came back to our home for Mom to pray that she would stop having children!
As the church advances in stature and education, let us not forget our foreparents who pathed
the way with ``Blessed Quietness”, even in the face of racial injustice. They continued to “Hold
to God’s Unchanging Hand”, though at times unbearable circumstances, making a decision that
“I am Going to Trust In The Lord Until I Die”, and that is JUST what they did! They sang about
the “Heavenly Sunshine, Heavenly Sunshine flooding my soul” - separating themselves from the
mental slavery and social oppression that surrounded them on all sides, and kept their eyes on
the prize that gave them the impetus to declare to one another: “Look and live, my brother
(sister) live, look to Jesus NOW and live! ‘Tis recorded in His Word, Hallelujah! It is ONLY that
you ‘look and live!!’”
It is my prayer that as we broach the challenges of today, that our leaders will remember the
saints of old that stood around campfires, traveling from not just one church to another, but went
from state to state preaching and teaching the Word of God, that we will NOT lose, neither drop
the mantel we were handed, not forget the sacrifice our ancestors paid for the freedoms we now
enjoy, not lose sight of the ‘mansion over there, not just in heaven, but the mansion God has
provided for those who will believe, the place of intimate security and trust Him without a doubt,
knowing that “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus, just to take HIM AT HIS WORD”, for “There is a
Place of Quiet Rest, Near to the Heart of God”, the place of peace and tranquility, that is the
place where we find “Peace, Peace, Wonderful Peace, coming down from the Father above”.
The saints of old simply ‘BELIEVED GOD’, and we are challenged to do the same: through the
vicissitudes of life, we must make the choice to honor their sacrifices, honor their love and
faithfulness to God, honor their commitment to the things of heaven, not to religiosity and ritual
nor traditions, but the truth of the Word that reminds us that: I (We) can do ALL things through
Christ who strengthens us!”
Be strengthened my brother, my sister, by the power of God that works within each of us, and
don’t forget to do this: “HOLD TO GOD’S UNCHANGING HAND”.
In HIm be glory, honor, and power,
Rev. Carolyn (Early) Anderson
Revs Charles (Charlie) and Lila M. Myers; Carolyn Early and Richard Early in Grandmother’s
Rev. Dr. Odies B. Early; Revs Charles and Lila M. Myers at Northside Church of God, Toledo,
Rev. Dr. Odies B. Early, Graduation Photo upon receiving her Doctoral Degree in Theology at
the young age of 86 years old.
This article was written by Rev. Carolyn (Early) Anderson, the Music Director of Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church in Marin City. She is the proud granddaughter of Rev.Charles and Lila M. Myers; the Revs John and Odies Early. Rev. Anderson is a Doctoral Student at the San
Francisco Theological Seminary, where her research interests include music and arts in the Christin Church, African American Sacred folk music, choral music, and ethnomusicology. Along with her roles at SFTS where she has been an adjunct Professor in recent years, she also has served as the Minister of Music and Arts for the Interstate Association of the Church of God for over 15 years; as well as Youth Choir Musician/Arranger besides the then choir director: the Rev. Gregory Dixon, under the pastorship of our most distinguished Church of God innovator: Dr. Benjamin F. Reid. In addition to editing, arranging, and assisting in the production of numerous recording projects, she was the senior music arranger, vocal director and consultant to the choir’s prison inmate choral instructor for the 3-Grammy nominated project: “He’s All I Need”, the 1st recording project ever produced totally behind prison gates. This project was under the direction of Mickey Hart of the “Grateful Dead” and released by Grateful Dead Records in 1993. Rev. Anderson recently completed a month-long tour in Marseille, France as a master teacher to two local choirs based in Marseilles and Paris. One of Rev. Anderson’s greatest musical passions is inculcating the past hymns, present contemporary songs, and spirituals as medleys to bring a more succinct unity to the music for the next dispensation of ministry. One of her own personal recording projects is the CD entitled: “He’s All I Need”. Her favorite hymn is: “Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus” - her total posture of belief in the Almighty! Thanks be to God!