By Edwin Buggage
Photos by Glenn Summers
Greater Glam and the True Definition of Beauty
For several decades Greater St. Stephen Ministries has been a place where spirits are fed on a consistent basis. The focus of this groundbreaking church has always been how to do God’s work both inside the church and also making an impact in the entire community.
Dr. Debra B. Morton, who today leads the church as its First Woman Pastor is a visionary leader, author and entrepreneur who serves with her husband, Bishop Paul S. Morton, Sr. continues a tradition of a thriving ministry of more than 7000 members. In addition to its combined community of outreach through television, radio and social media their audience is more than 15,000 people weekly who are fed messages of faith, hope and inspiration.
This was on full display on Saturday August 25, 2018 when Pastor Debra B. Morton, partnered with Cumulus Radio and Tracee Dundas, who is best known as being the Creative Director and Founder of New Orleans Fashion Week producing an event called, “Greater Glam: A Day of Empowerment, Beauty and Fashion Honoring Amazing Women.”
The Greater Glam Experience is more than an event that focuses on beauty. It is a community project with a focus to provide a creative cultural vehicle that raise funds that are donated to education scholarships and women business development grants.
“It has always been Important that we reach outside of the walls of the church. To impact people and connect, giving them the tools to tap into their greatness and embrace their true beauty.” remarks Dr. Debra Morton, Pastor of Greater St. Stephen Ministries.
Working Outside of the Church Walls
Being a community advocate is something Greater St. Stephen is known for. They are among one of several churches in the City that are beacons of light and shining example of what the life of Christ represented. Speaking of the partnership with Cumulus and Dundas, Morton says it was a great fit that worked with what the church already does; working to uplift and empower women in the community.
“It is Women’s month at our church and when Terry Davis from CUMULUS Radio approached me about putting on this event and mentioned Tracee, who I love what she does with beauty and fashion,” states Pastor Morton with passion ringing in her voice. “This aligns perfectly with celebrating women of excellence and this is something I have been doing for 30 years; hosting events that empower women. I am proud to say this event as well as others we have had over the years that a lot of church women come from all over to be with us.”
The turnout at “Greater Glam” consisted of women from all age groups. A fact not lost on Pastor Morton, who highlights that by all measures the event was a success, “I wanted to highlight great women and those who aspire to greatness that came out to be celebrated and empowered and that was a beautiful thing to see so many Black women of all ages together celebrating and encouraging each other.”
Terry Davis says the event aligned with the mission of CUMULUS Radio and is part of their commitment to reach out to the community, “The collaborative between the partnership of Greater St. Stephen and Cumulus Radio open the door to this concept. After participating with Greater St. Stephen on other initiatives; I shared an idea, with our Regional VP Patrick Galloway, had regarding outstanding contributions women make every day. I then talked to Dr. Morton about the concept and we blended some ideas and when we met later that week she had a full vision and name for the event and that’s how “Greater Glam 2018” developed into a community project designed to empower women through Education, Economic Development, Image and Style.”
Beauty and Beyond
The event featured an Empowerment Day Session from 10AM until 2PM and a Fashion Show Experience from 7PM until 9PM. Tracee Dundas sings the praises of the Greater Glam, saying, “Nothing gives me more pleasure than to be part of an event that embraces and empowers women to feel beautiful both inside and out.”
Noting her role, she says, “My role was to curate a fashion show that included the Amazing Women Honorees; giving them an opportunity to be a model on the runway and show their family, friends and community that beauty comes in all ages, shapes and sizes. It was amazing to work with the ladies to do something that may have been out of their comfort zone.”
Trailblazing Women Honored
Greater Glam 2018 acknowledged the contributions of many of the amazing women of the City. Mayor LaToya Cantrell was presented a Special Career Achievement Award for making history as the First Woman Mayor of New Orleans. “I am very excited about the movement that is taken place surrounding women. Hat’s off to our first woman mayor,” says Pastor Morton of the accomplishments of Mayor Cantrell as a community advocate, city councilperson and now making history as Mayor of the City of New Orleans.
And as we celebrate the accomplishments of today’s women we cannot forget the shoulders on which they stand. A point not lost on Morton, as “Greater Glam” also honored the trailblazing achievements of the City’s first African-American First Lady Sybil Morial, whose work in Civil Rights and Education made history blazing a trail for many to follow. Remarking on the pioneers and their remarkable contribution Pastor Morton says, “As I started thinking about my own life having a grandmother with 6th grade education who became a property owner of two houses. I look at my mother and Godmother and how they fought their way through racism and segregation to raise their daughters and granddaughters to become educated even though they didn’t have those opportunities themselves. They were strong forever. And these are women to be honored as well for their courage and dedication making the sacrifices and inspiring the next generation of women for greatness.”
Other Amazing Women honorees included; Dr. Kya Robottom, Founder of the Robottom Foundation, whose mission is to mentor pre-teen and teenage young women in New Orleans. Leona Tate, Founder of the Leona Tate Foundation for Change, where the mission is to educate young people on the lessons of Civil Rights to help build social equality in today’s society. Lauren Perry, Executive Director of the Beautiful Foundation, where their mission is to provide a safe environment for leadership development for underserved young women in the community. Ariel Wilson, Founder of The Orchid Society. A professional women’s organization focused on mentoring, community service and social awareness. Patricia Watson, Executive Pastor of Watson Teaching Ministries and Executive Director of the Family Center of Hope Educational and Social Services.