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History of the I.C.U. A. and Nurses of Akron

It was a dream of some dedicated ushers from a few churches that there was a need for fellowship among the churches. This dream was fulfilled in 1954 when Mr. Locado, of St. John C.M.E. Church, Mr. Al Averett of Wesley Temple A.M.E. Zion Church, Mr. Aulden Giles of Centenary United Methodist Church and Mrs. Esther Mitchell of Phillips Chapel C.M.E. Church assembled together a group of ushers to organize their thoughts and ideas for such a group. The first meeting was held on March 30, 1954 at Centenary United Methodist Church. Phillips Chapel dropped out temporarily but was reinstated in 1962.

On October 5, 1958 Akron was given its first charter from the State of Ohio under the name of The Akron Area for the United Christian Fellowship Ushers. Brother Alvin Taylor was State President and Sister Doris Byrd was the State Secretary. Under the Presidency of Sister Kathleen Johnson, the Articles of Incorporation were issued on September 5, 1984 giving consent to use the name Interdenominational Church Ushers Association of Akron. The first assigned Identification Number by the IRS was acquired through President Virginia Partridge on November 27, 1996.

Brother Aulden Giles was the first City President and served for fourteen years. He also served as State President. He was followed by Brother Clarence Brown with a four year tenure and Sister Eunice Hopson with an eight year tenure who also served as State President. The following City Presidents each served four year tenures: Sister Kathleen Johnson, Sister Mattie Stinson, Sister Barbara Cooper, Sister Virginia Partridge, Sister Edith Walker, Sister Mary Robinson, Sister Marguerite Dowdell, Sister Renatta Robinson and Brother Johnnie Hannah. Sister Annie Clark is the current City President. Sister Kathleen Johnson also served as both State Financial Secretary and and State Treasurer alternately from 1994 to 2000.

Akron ushers attended their first State Convention in 1959 in the City of Columbus, Ohio. For many years the Akron I.C.U.A. contributed to “Operation Shoes” and ” Project Food” thanks to Sister Edith Price. Sister Price and Brother Robert L. Potts hold the longest service record in the Akron I.C.U.A. Brother Robert L. Potts is still active members as of 2019. Sister Price also served on the State Board of Directors for 9 years. Brother Potts has served 20 years as City Souvenir Chairman and 16 years on the State Board of Directors. He currently serves as Advisor for the State Board of Directors. In 1960, Akron had its first graduates with twenty in the graduating class. Sister Gladys Harris was the first Chairman of the School of Ushering and served in that position until 1983. She was assisted by Professor Smith.

In 1977, behind the locked doors of “Indian River Correctional School for Boys” the Akron Ushers traveled and taught the boys different ushering techniques. Many of the boys had never been inside of a church or even knew the meaning of the word Christian. They accepted Christ and learned to usher in their Chapel. Many of them were baptized by the late Rev. W.K. Hawkins of the Greater Bethel Baptist Church. Going into an institution to teach ushering was a first, not only for City of Akron, but also for the State and National.

The late brother Demascus Ballard introduced the first Pre-Musical at the State Convention. Akron had a dynamic Choral Group under the direction of the late Brother Robert F. Neason. Akron also has a paid-in-full Life Membership with the NAACP.

Sister Katie Brown served for many years as Akron Scholarship Chairperson giving grants to many deserving students. The scholarship has been named The Brown-Ballard Scholarship. Another Scholarship has been established in honor of Willie C. Mitchell. Sister Kathleen Johnson-Marsh is the present Scholarship Chairperson and has held that position since 1987.

In 1984, Akron had its first drill team to win first place honors in the Senior Division at the State Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. They went on to represent the State of Ohio at the National Convention in Houston, Texas, where they tied for second place. The drill team participants were Barbara Cooper, Mary Robinson, Edith Walker, Marguerite Dowdell, Lacey Robins, Virginia Partridge and Barbara Williams.

In 1986, Akron had its first drill team to win first place honors in the Young Adult Division at the National Convention in St. Louis, Missouri.. The participants were Deborah Womack, Renatta Robinson, Johnny Marshall, Anthony Kidd, Barbara Williams and Jerry Williams. The Seniors won second place. Senior participants were Marguerite Dowdell, Barbara Cooper, Mary Robinson, Edith Walker, Lacy Robins and Alfonzo White. For the next consecutive nine years the Seniors won first place honors each year at the National. James L. Fears has been the Chairman of the School of Ushering beginning in 1983 until the present time. He was assisted by Professor Smith and Demascus Ballard.

The Alumni Department is a strong department in the Akron I.C.U.A. They serve as the benevolent arm of this organization, giving assistance to the School of Ushering and the National Convention. They also provide trained competition for the School of Ushering and assist various churches when requested to do so. The Alumni Department was reorganized in 1983 by President Kathleen Johnson under the direction of deceased Sister Lucille Gaines. Sister Bennie Coleman was appointed Chairman. In 1985 Sister Marguerite Dowdell was appointed Alumni Chairman and she served in that poistion until 1999. There have been only five Alumni Chairmen of the Akron I.C.U.A. Rosa White, Bennie Coleman, Marguerite Dowdell, Renatta Robinson and Anita Barnett who is the current Chairman. Akron has had four National Ushers of the Year, Mattie Stinson, Kathleen Johnson-Pitts, James L. Fears and Renatta Robinson and six State of Ohio Ushers of the Year, Mattie Stinson, Kathleen Johnson-Pitts, James L. Fears, Marguerite Dowell, Edith Price and Renatta Robinson. Eunice Hopson was Central Region Honoree in 1983 and Demascus Ballard was Central Region Honoree in 1990. Robert Potts was State Honoree in 1999. Kathleen Marsh was State Honoree in 2004.

The A.W. Briggs Health Department has an excellent team of Nurses who work diligently distributing appropriate literature to all congregations on health, foods, child care, etc. They continually strive to get as much Health Education and training as possible and they do their best to live up to their motto: “A Good Nurse is God’s Love on Display. Sister Patricia Williams has been Chairperson for both Akron and the State for the past five years and is still serving in both positions.

The Junior and Young Adult Departments have struggled throughout the years. Currently Young Adult Chairman is Crystal Nelson and the Junior Chairman is Martha Montgomery.

We extend a special thanks to all the ministers for allowing their church ushers to participate in this great organization in the past and we look forward to the future with great anticipation as history goes on………

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