Photo: Dr. Robin E. Hedgeman (PHOTO/KENNETH D. MILLER)
Dr. Robin E. Hedgeman celebrates 23 years at Bethany Christian Church
“For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.”
1 Corinthians 4:20
On this Sunday Dr. Robin E. Hedgeman, wearing a shinny silver robe, had just concluded a nearly three-hour worship service at Bethany Christian Church on King Luther Jr. Blvd. in Cleveland.
As beads of sweat streamed down from her meticulous styled short gray strained hair onto her face, she moved about the church she has pastored for more than two decades, meeting and greeting, then instructing deacons and others about ongoing activities and the business of the church.
Dr. Hedgeman’s steadfast commitment to Bethany Christian Church will grow to 23 years when she celebrates another pastoral anniversary May 18 at 11a.m. at the Acacia Clubhouse located at 26899 Cedar Road in Lyndhurst.
She knows how it began in 1997 , but she is not certain how it will conclude.
She does not want to be wheeled out when her time is up as pastor, Dr. Robin E. Hedgeman prefers to walk out of Bethany Christian Church with the same brand of dignity she brought with her.
Reflecting on those past years, Dr. Hedgeman spoke softly, candid and rather succinctly.
“I think there is no place like the church. There is no place like the church because the church is in the business of pointing people to a savior. Pointing people to the one who gives us a second chance. Pointing people to the greatest resource we have. No place likes the church because the church is filled with people who have as their testimony but God. So, I think in 23 years we still are experiencing people who are still coming to the Lord, folks who have become stronger in their relationship with the Lord.”
Dr. Hedgeman, is one of very few female pastors in a sea of ministry dominated by men, but is widely accepted and revered in the church community and specifically in the greater Cleveland community.
After retiring Bethany Christian’s $1.1 million mortgage in 2001, and then adding a state-of-the-art administrative and educational wing to the architecture of the church in 2008, she aims to build for the future.
While stating that it has been a blessing to see those that God has put on the front burner or as she calls them the front line troops that are helping her grow the ministry, she believes the church is more community minded.
“It (being community minded) gets manifested in a hosts of ways from adoption of two schools in the community, so our community witness have become strengthened and our members have been blessed to participate in addition to feeding the homeless,” she explained.
Those adopted schools include John Adams High School and Andrew J. Rickoff School.
On May 16th Dr. Hedgeman will be hosting the baccalaureate program for John Adams and the theme is “Leadership worth following and approved by God,” Hebrews 13:7.
Bethany Christian has accumulated another mortgage with all of the improvements and Dr. Hedgeman is determined to retire that one as well.
“Now we are at the place of being very intentional about applying extra money to this mortgage sooner so that we can make an investment in our future,” Dr. Hedgeman emphasized.
When asked how long she will continue to serve, Dr. Hedgeman paused.
“Let me say this. My plan is to continue to help us do our community engagement, continue to help us preach the gospel, save souls, and your question is really how long? And that’s a question that I don’t have the answer to, but I can say that I don’t want to be wheeled out.”
A vastly intellectual woman who sits behind a desk with a biblical library at her convenience, graduate degrees on the walls from hometown Towson State University in Towson, Maryland, a Master of Divinity degree from Lexington Theological Seminary in Lexington, Kentucky, and a Doctor of Ministry Degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.
Photographs that show her and former President Bill Clinton and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson also rest on corner tables in her church office, but at her essential core Dr. Hedgeman is a woman who wants to make life better for others.
Dr. Hedgeman sits on various boards and travels frequently throughout the nation to impact society for the better, but most importantly spread the gospel.
“At some point all of us have to give back. All of the giving can’t just be at one place; all of my giving can’t just be at Bethany. It’s about me giving back at some other places and as I give back those agencies are giving back to me and blessing me. It’s about balance, and I’ll be the first to say that sometimes I am out of balance, but I keep working diligently to try to give back.”
She has received numerous awards, some of which include: 2016 Women of Vision Honoree, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., Greater Cleveland Chapter; 2016 Outstanding in Ministry Award, City of Cleveland; 2014 Honoree, National Council of Negro Women of Western Reserve; 2013 Outstanding Afro-American Woman of the Year; 2012 Citizen of the Year, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity; and Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges in both 1981 and 1988.
The native of Washington D.C., is also Boule member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, an organization that her great-great aunt, Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, was a founder.
Dr. Robin E. Hedgeman’s 23rd pastoral anniversary comes with many significant milestones, but the most important of which is serving the Lord Jesus Christ.