We refer to Bishop G.R. Hill — known as “Ron” to his vast array of close friends and stewards of civic causes — who serves as pastor of The Church of God Sanctified.
To be welcomed by Barbara Ector — co-founding pastor of Unity Christian Ministries with her husband Aubrey, and who is also a longtime educator in the Cleveland City Schools system — Bishop Hill brings both a familiar face and a welcome smile.
It is fitting that Hill and Ector will share Saturday evening’s podium because both have given their hearts, their natural talents for opening minds of students and their belief in people to our appreciative community, not just for a few years but for decades.
It could be suggested both have given their lives to hometown causes that have bridged gaps and conquered great divides among people of many cultures, interests and beliefs.
Born in Knoxville, Bishop Hill moved to Cleveland in 1969. He attended Duke University in Durham, N.C., graduated with a bachelor of arts and then went on to obtain his master of arts degree in educational leadership from Trevecca-Nazarene University in Nashville.
Bishop Hill’s career spanned 33 years in Cleveland City Schools, holding a collection of roles of progressing authority. He spent 18 years as a classroom teacher, three years as assistant principal at Cleveland High School and 12 years as principal of Blythe-Bower Elementary School.
Currently, Bishop Hill serves as a supervisor of student teachers for Lee University.
Since 1981, he has served as pastor of The Church of God Sanctified in Cleveland where he and his wife, Dera Ann, have led 32 years of activities and worship.
Another side of Bishop Hill of which some might not be familiar is his commitment to Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland. At Habitat, he also has served in multiple volunteer roles.
Such deep commitments — to young people through education, to a life of everlasting promise through his church, and to Cleveland and Bradley County families who are seeking a fresh start in life and a hand up through Habitat — make Bishop Hill a perfect choice for the NAACP’s observance of Black History Month.
As we have offered in prior editorials, Black History Month is far more than a reflection on the past of a race and its culture. Truly, its roots were planted here. But Black History Month is also a celebration of causes — people causes. Such conviction lies in the heart of any man or woman — black, white, brown, red or yellow — who believe in a day of betterment when color of skin is little more than the outer layer of a heart of gold that beats to the thump of humanity.
This celebration of Black History Month is open to any whose ideals run parallel to that of the local NAACP and its community members. We urge full participation, but we recommend that those planning to attend to hurry with your reservations.
Seating is limited so tickets must be secured early. Tickets, and additional information, may be obtained by contacting Demetrius Ramsey at 544-3387 or Hiawatha Brown at 284-5036. Ticket cost is $30.
The evening will kick off at 6 p.m. at the Bradley Cleveland Senior Activity Center on Urbane Road.
Surely, it will be an endearing time of sharing and insight, while in the company of a mouth-watering soul food dinner.
But mostly, it will be an evening when hearts of a common thread look back and look ahead at life and at the hidden treasures that await any whose humanitarian deeds of today nurture the seeds of guardianship of tomorrow.