Five decades after it was initiated at Summerfield Baptist Church, the Meditation Hour still is a place for Christians to gather for teaching and fellowship.
“I have been in ministry for 47 years,” said Dr. Lee Otis Adams, coordinator of the weekly Meditation Hour. “So, I would say that the original Meditation Hour was started somewhere in the early ’70s.”
Although various churches have hosted the meetings throughout its 50-year history, the Meditation Hour is one of the longest continuously running teaching ministries of its kind.
Teachers and preachers, both novices and seasoned, would meet each week to hear an inspiring message from a designated speaker. Those who were learning were enriched, and those who were experienced guided and helped aspiring Christian leaders coming up.
The modern adaptation of the meeting is inter-denominational, expanding beyond its Missionary Baptist roots.
Meditation Hour meetings are on Wednesday mornings. The Education Hour is at 10. The Gospel Hour is at 11, and fellowship follows at noon. Expansion of the original Meditation Hour evolved with the changing times, said Adams.
“The perilous times in which we live make more prayer and preparation necessary for effective Christian leadership,” said Adams. “We still come together and learn from one another, but additional outreach efforts have been made, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic.”
An evangelistic crusade for youth and young people was launched by the Meditation Hour in July, Adams said.
“We felt something had to be done,” Adams said. “There is so much violence and criminal behavior among our young people. We felt an urgency to convey the gospel of Jesus Christ to our children, before they are unable to hear it. They can’t hear the message of salvation in the grave.”
Today, attendees to the Meditation Hour come from various denominations, and include the faithful patronage of both clergy and lay persons.
“Except for the few months in 2019 when all church services and religious gatherings were suspended,” said Adams, “the Meditation Hour has run continuously from the time when Pastor Montgomery Winfield started the fellowship until now. Members from Methodist churches, Church of God in Christ, and non-denominational congregations have joined our meetings.”
Winfield started the Meditation Hour at Summerfield Baptist Church, at 1383 Boxwood St., where it still sits today. Adams is the third coordinator of the Meditation Hour, having served in the role for eight years.
The weekly meeting was being held at the Hollywood Community Center, but with the pandemic hit, and a new meeting place was needed.
“We were meeting at the Hollywood Community Center, alternately, with Prosperity Baptist Church, but the pandemic changed that,” said Adams. “All the city facilities and community centers were closed in 2019, when the COVID-19 was at its height. We stopped meeting and just suspended the event for a few months.”
When the Meditation Hour started meeting again later on in 2019, it was at one location each week, Prosperity Baptist Church, 5859 Old Brownsville Rd., near Methodist Hospital North.
Adams, a life-long Memphian, retired from Memphis City Schools as a teacher and coach in 2012.
Presently, he is pastor of Union Paradise Baptist Church, in Jericho, AR. Adams also serves as 3rd vice-president of The Consolidated Missionary Baptist Convention of Arkansas.
He earned a doctorate in ministry, with emphasis on Church and Community Ministry, from Jacksonville Theological Seminary.