MOULTRIE -- Grant Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church recently added a new minister to its congregation.

The Rev. Florence Bankston has been actively involved in providing leadership at Grant Chapel AME Church on West Central Avenue for the past month. She is an ordained itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Bankston's appointment lends itself to the upcoming "Family and Friends Day" at Grant Chapel AME Church at 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 25. The primary focus is on worshipping the Lord and praising him with family and friends, with invitations sent by the church to former members as well as to those seeking a new church home.

Bankston was born in Jacksonville, Fla., to Martha B. Bankston and the late Jessie O. Bankston. She was educated in the Los Angeles Unified School District and received a bachelor's degree in physical education from Spelman College in Atlanta. She received a second bachelor's degree, in recreational therapy, from California State University Northridge in Northridge, Calif.

Bankston taught physical education for 20 years before deciding on a career change. She earned a master's degree in library and informational studies from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta and spent six years as the library media specialist at Beecher Hills Elementary School in Atlanta.

Bankston became a preacher on Nov. 27, 1999. She graduated from Turner Seminary at the ITC, and she has served on the ministerial staff at Greater Turner Chapel AME Church in Atlanta.

A favorite quote of Bankston's comes from an African poem, which shows her commitment to ministry. It says, "I won't give up, shut up, let up untill I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problems recognizing me, my banner will be clear."

Bankston is a member of Women in Ministry and Delta Theta Sorority. She has preached in Florida, South Carolina and California and was the revivalist at Second Grace UMC in Detroit. She is listed in the 2004 edition of Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges and was awarded the Bishop Frederick H. Talbot Award from Turner Seminary in 2003.

Bankston is the mother of two children, Jeffrey and Martha Denise, and the grandmother of Ju'Leok, Corey, Cynthia, Jesse, Malcolm and Destiny.

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