By Phenola Moore
Saturday, May 13, 2017, I graduated from the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) with a Bachelors of Arts degree in English and a minor in Journalism. I thank God that He allowed me to get through the process and that He gave me parents and a sister, Cora, who understood that my free time would be at a minimum. I am so grateful that God allowed me to accomplish this great feat. However, obeying the Holy Spirit to volunteer as a writer at First Baptist Church of Glenarden’s Magazine Ministry, Vision, and Grace Magazine gave me the skills and confidence I needed to excel in my writing assignments at UMUC.
During my tenure as a writer for Vision Magazine, President Evelyn Gainous allowed me to flourish as a writer by embracing my article ideas; and the edits I received from Washington Post Columnist Michelle Singletary sharpened my writing skills. I will never forget when Gainous granted me permission to write my first article, “The Evolution of Gospel Music.” I asked her if I could interview First Baptist’s Praise and Worship Artist Stephen Hurd so that I could add a First Baptist touch to the article. Although I was petrified because it was my first interview, my passion for getting the needed information to write a good article superseded my fears. Also, Singletary was an editor for Vision Magazine and I was assigned to her. She is an excellent editor and sometimes my draft would come back with extensive edits. Therefore, I had to swallow my pride, and not take it personally because it was about putting out the best article possible. The greatest lesson I learned from Singletary was “less is best,” and I think about this every time I write. The Magazine Ministry was my first encounter regarding writing articles and the experience grew me as a writer.
A few years later, First Lady Trina Jenkins started Grace Magazine where I worked with Director Barbara Holt-Streeter on writing, editing and participating in the publication process. At one of the February Women’s Fellowship, First Lady Jenkins asked for volunteers to serve in several capacities and I began as a writer. I learned everything from avoiding religious jargon in my writings to including a photo that will entice people to read the article. When I took on the positon of editor-in-chief, I gained additional insight regarding the entire publication process. The countless hours (early and late) Holt-Streeter and I spent making sure that the magazine was audience ready served as one of the stepping stones to perfect my writing style.
Although I joined the Magazine Ministry and Grace Magazine Ministry to use my gift of writing to inspire others, working with the leaders and members provoked me to become a better writer. I am grateful that Gainous and First Lady Jenkins took a chance on an unknown writer like me. However, please do not misinterpret my story as one of a writer who joined several ministries for writing experience to use in college. And in turn, I am telling you to do the same. When I joined these ministries, it was the furthest thing from my mind. But I am sharing my story so that you will see the importance of obeying the Holy Spirit; and how God can use your experiences as stepping stones to navigate you through your life-long journey.