Meetin GAWD pun Gullah/Geechee Watas

The “Suddenly” revival continued at Bethesda Christian Fellowship on historic St. Helena Island, SC in the Gullah/Geechee Nation with a sermon entitled, “A Simple Shift Then Suddenly” all coming from John 21 of the Bible.   Hearing a sermon emerge from the ripples of the creek behind the church and come through the spirit and voice of Pastor Doe at the pulpit was enriching and healing.  GAWD bin da trubull de wata fa tru!

Pastor Doe proceeded recounting the journey of the disciples on the water and how they were professional fishermen that had been out all night fishing and didn’t catch anything.  As I listened to this story that I have read and studied and heard preached before, I now had images of Gullah/Geechee fishermen from the Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association appearing before my face.  As the words, “It wouldn’t have been so bad if they were any other profession, but they were card carrying fishermen.” was spoken, I thought about the battle that we have been fighting for five years to protect our fishermen from being persecuted for continuing to support themselves and feed their families from our waterways as our elders and ancestors did for generations.    Just as with the fishermen in the scriptures, this is their livelihood.  It is not about recreation so it is crucial that they continue to catch something on any night or day as they traverse the waterways.

Ed Atkins is the last member of the Gullah Geechee nation to pra

Ed Atkins one citizen of the Gullah/Geechee Nation and a member of the Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association that practices the traditional method of catching live bait with a casting net. His father founded Atkins Bait Shop which is at the foot of the Chowan Creek Bridge as you enter historic St. Helena Island, SC. His son Ed, who is depicted, has carried on the tradition. He will often wake up at 3 am to cast for bait in the Spartina marshes.

Before I let the images in my mind and my passion for helping insure that our sea work traditions continue for generations take me too far down the stream, I made sure to fully flow back into the central word that was coming from the pulpit-SHIFT!  I have said and demonstrated this word on hundreds upon hundreds of stages over three decades in and effort to get people to see how simple shifting actually is.  As I smiled, I KNEW that this message was yet another confirmation for me.  I knew I was in the right boat!

Pastor Doe again eloquently and effectively illustrated that the distance between catching or producing nothing and actually having more than they could even hold in one net was only a few feet wide.  To change from one side of the boat to the other side of the boat required an action.  To go from non-productivity to productivity required an action.  This required a SHIFT!  The shift brought a change in the outcome.   Their obedience to GOD in shifting caused them to have more than they could handle.

The sermon was a sobering call to order and to self-assessment.  We are all on earth to be productive.  If we are called to a particular thing in life, we should be producing in that position.  If you are not producing where you are, you may need to shift and that could make all the difference in the world.  If you simply opt not to shift, then you may be holding up the progress of not only the church, but for the community.  Nobody wants dead weight in a boat!  To that end, I totally agree with Pastor Doe’s closing words, “If you ain’t gonna carry your weight, get out the boat!”

by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (

Queen Quet crabbing

1 Comment

  1. Sheronda

    “Pastor Doe again eloquently and effectively illustrated that the distance between catching or producing nothing and actually having more than they could even hold in one net was only a few feet wide.” That sentence made me think of the Israelites and their forty-year trip, what should have taken two weeks.


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