Livingston ordained at Ocean City's Shiloh Baptist

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Anna Livingston ordained at Ocean City's Shiloh Baptist Church

OCEAN CITY — Ordained as the first female Baptist preacher in the history of Ocean City’s Shiloh Baptist Church and the surrounding Cape May and Cumberland counties through the Bethany Baptist Association of South Jersey, on July 22, Rev. Anna Livingston said it was all “part of God’s plan.”

“I’m very excited,” Livingston said, surrounded by family and friends who gathered in Ocean City to see history in the making. “I’m thankful to God, I really am.”

Leadership came early. Eager to learn and share her knowledge with others, she started teaching Sunday School classes when she was but a child herself.

“I’ve been doing the work of the Master for many years,” she said. “I’m doing what I was born to do. When I was born, this was in me. It’s a calling and it’s been a calling for a while. What I am doing is for God, working within me.”

One of nine children born to the late Joseph and Anna Bowens, she was raised in Mullins, S.C.

“I grew up in a home filled with love,” she said. “I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the age of 11, as a Baptist. My mother went to the Pentecostal Church, my father went to the Baptist Church, I was a crossbreed, sometimes I went to one, sometimes to the other.”

Her mother died when she was only 13; her older sisters helped raise her. The tragic and untimely death, she said, spurred her desire to grow with the Lord.

After graduating Palmetto High School, Livingston met her first husband, Samuel Edwards, married and moved to Ocean City.

“There were jobs, there was summer work, we left South Carolina for a better opportunity, for a better life,” she said.

Settling into life at the Jersey Shore, she joined Shiloh Baptist Church and gave birth to two children, a daughter named Sandra and a son named Anthony.

She began working at what was then Shore Memorial Hospital, beginning in the dietary department.

After her husband died, she decided to go back to school.

She attended Atlantic Community College and Richard Stockton College, graduating with a degree in nursing. She earned a master’s degree in health care administration from Farleigh Dickinson University.

“I worked part-time and went to school,” she said.

As she earned one degree and then the next, she worked her way up the career ladder to serving as the director of nursing at Shore.

“I enjoyed all those years at Shore Memorial,” she said. “The people I’ve managed say I’m tough, but fair. I like things to be done well and done right.”

Meanwhile, she met the man who became her second husband, William Livingston Jr. The couple married and a third child, Sharon, was added to the mix. 

“I am so grateful to William,” she said. “I would not be where I am today without him. He helped me through some tough times. I would work all day and leave and drive to Teaneck, in North Jersey to go to school. He would have dinner for me when I got home.”

“He’s a blessing in my life. He helped support me. He’s been very helpful to me. I had a 5-week-old baby when I started going to school part time. He raised my children as his own; he loved me and helped me put them through college. He’s a good man, I am very blessed.”

In 2005, she retired from Shore Memorial after 43 years and dedicated her life to serving God.

“I was called into the ministry,” she said.

She began working in the ministry at Shore, visiting with patients. She had long served in various positions in her church: organizing women’s groups, starting a church newsletter and teaching the first gospel course.

A Sunday School teacher, she became the superintendent of Shiloh Baptist’s Sunday School and served as a superintendent of the Bethany Baptist Association of South Jersey, too, serving about a dozen churches. 

She became a certified bible teacher at the local, state and national level.

When Livingston retired, she devoted even more time to the church, including community outreach programs. Her real dream, however, was to be ordained as a Baptist minister. She took seminary courses, and is presently working on her doctorate degree.   

It took many years for the Bethany Baptist Association of South Jersey to permit women to be ordained. Livingston was among the first wave of five women to be officially ordained.

“They never believed in ordaining women,” she said. “They just recently changed the bylaws to include women.”

“No, it didn’t bother me that it took so long,” she said.  “Things change, we all need to change from the way we looked at things in the days of old. I had a vision and worked for it. It happened in God’s time; he had a plan for me.”

“Ordination is a celebration. I did not want to leave my faith, so I was patient. I studied God’s words, I prepared for the day when this would happen.”

“The one thing that matters to me the most is that I am happy to be a born-again believer in Jesus Christ,” she said.

Rev. Gregory Johnson, assistant to Rev. John Winters at Shiloh Baptist Church, said Livingston is an “outstanding, hardworking person.”

“She’s a visionary,” he said. “That always stuck with me. The Lord led her, provided for her to be an excellent leader.”

“We have a lot on our agenda at Shiloh Baptist, she will be very helpful,” he said.

Livingston said she has always been a self starter, a take-charge person.

“You have to work hard to be successful, you can’t depend on anyone else,” she said. “We are all God’s workmanship. It has to come from within; no one can do it for you. I instilled ambition in my children; stressed how important it was to live up to what God wants for you. I tried to be a role model to help shape their future.”

Councilman Antwan McClellan of the 2nd Ward attended the ordination ceremony. A longtime member of the church, McClellan said he was very proud of Livingston.

“I’ve known her forever,” he said. “She’s a great lady and a big family friend. She was always trying to improve herself. She’s done a lot for the church and a lot for the community. She’s a very good role model.” 

Anna Livingston ordained at Ocean City's Shiloh Baptist Church

Anna Livingston ordained at Ocean City's Shiloh Baptist Church

Anna Livingston ordained at Ocean City's Shiloh Baptist Church

Anna Livingston ordained at Ocean City's Shiloh Baptist Church

Anna Livingston ordained at Ocean City's Shiloh Baptist Church

Anna Livingston ordained at Ocean City's Shiloh Baptist Church

Anna Livingston ordained at Ocean City's Shiloh Baptist Church

Anna Livingston ordained at Ocean City's Shiloh Baptist Church

Anna Livingston ordained at Ocean City's Shiloh Baptist Church

Anna Livingston ordained at Ocean City's Shiloh Baptist Church

Anna Livingston ordained at Ocean City's Shiloh Baptist Church

Anna Livingston ordained at Ocean City's Shiloh Baptist Church

Anna Livingston ordained at Ocean City's Shiloh Baptist Church

 


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