Friday, April 23, 2010

"The 12 Tribes of Israel" Comes to Life at Bethel AME Zion Church in Kingsport

The story of the 12 tribes of Israel, are all about family. In a way, they mirror the relationships of the families of the Riverview Community, long ago. The 12 Tribes, as related in the 49th chapter of Genesis in the Bible, demonstrate the closeness of family, and how members comfort, console and support each other.

That closeness of family was demonstrated by a wonderful exhibition of "The 12 Tribes of Israel," at the Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church in Kingsport. The event was held Saturday, April 17, 2010, and was organized by church member Dawnella Ellis.

To see a slideshow from the event at Bethel, please click here.

To see downloadable pictures of the event at Bethel, please click here.

The 12 Tribes of Israel represent the 12 sons of Israel, whose former name was Jacob, son of Issac, grandson of Abraham and twin brother of Esau. Those 12 sons were named Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Reuben, Simeon, Gad, Ephraim, Manesseh, Benjamin, Dan, Asher, and Naphtali.

"The story of the 12 Tribes is a very important passage in the Bible Old Testament," Dawnella says. "We've done it twice now, the first time last year, was in pageant form. There wasn't very much interaction with the audience. This year, we decided to broaden it, to include more songs and testimonials, and direct contact with the audience."

The event was also a fundraiser, in that the 12 men are to contribute 1 dollar, and each tribe was to report 144 dollars.

"I hope the event will become an annual thing," says Dawnella, "once people see how much fun and how the Holy Spirit moves among the people."

That spirit is the inspiration behind the very foundation of modern Israel.

That's the description given to the 12 Tribes of Israel by Reverend Charles Hawkins, pastor of Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church.

"Of course, we know that the Jewish tradition is a forerunner of the Christian tradition," says Reverend Hawkins, "understanding that Jesus Christ himself was born a Jew. In light of that, Christianity as we know it today came through that."

The Bethel church chose a unique way to introduce the families to the congregation and to each other.

"I will recognize the head of the tribe by calling out his name," Reverend Hawkins said. "I will then read the Holy interpretation of the tribal head, and then he will present his tribe to the faithful of God. They will stand at that point, and march through the aisles of the sanctuary, singing a song that is inspirational to the head of the tribe."

"The tribe will march around with the tribal head, singing with him, encouraging the congregation and the other families to sing along, thus uplifting the Name of God, and how we look forward to having a good time in the Lord."

"Because of the forebearers, Issac and Abraham of the Faith," Reverend Hawkins says, "we continue the tradition of trusting and believing God."

"Sometimes when the people see the truth of the Bible coming to life and the spirit of God moving amongst them," he says, "it does something more to the people than just reading the words themselves or hearing it in a sermon. When they actually see it in motion, people dressed in somewhat period attire, people can see the dignity that our forefathers in the Faith had, and how they believed and trusted."

Because of the family atmosphere, the relevance of Genesis 49 is realized in the presentation.

"After the 12 tribal families have been reunited," Reverend Hawkins says, "we understand through Scripture, how the brothers had treated Joseph, but also how Joseph ultimately ended up in a position to help the entire family. Before Jacob passed away, he blessed all of his sons and the family was reunited."

Reverend Hawkins says, family should never be forsaken in modern times, because the Bible ordains the reuniting of family by the 12 Tribes of Israel.

"So many times, people need to understand that, even though we go through our trials and tribulations, family is family," he says. "It's not just a family in your bloodline, but... the Family of God."

"We need to stick together as children in the Family of God."