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Blazing new trails
In the pulpit
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Pastor Glenda Faye Cleaver-Layton is adept at motivating and coaching students and adults. Whether she's doing her job as an educator or at church, she stays busy.
Although Cleaver-Layton has served as a pastor for only nine months, she said she is enjoying her duties so far. In June 2008, she was assigned to the St. James AME Church in the Freedman Grove community.
"I am excited about being at St. James. It reminds me of my home church, Harvest Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, in Canton, Miss.," Cleaver-Layton said.
A native of Canton, Miss., Cleaver-Layton and her husband, Clyde Layton Sr., moved to Liberty County in 1998 when he was stationed on Fort Stewart. He retired in 2004, and they remained in the area. While in the military, the Laytons spent time in Germany, Washington, D.C., Augusta and Wichita, Kan."
I sang in the choir in Kansas," Cleaver-Layton said.
She has been in the ministry since 2004. Before becoming a pastor, she served at Bethel AME Church in Hinesville.
"I served as the Christian education director, assistant Sunday school teacher, facilitator of the couples' ministry and vacation Bible school coordinator," she said
"While small in membership, St James has some very diligent, hard-working people who seek to please God. They are very family oriented. I am inspired when I see people growing spiritually and reaping the benefits of knowing the Lord," Cleaver-Layton said.
St. James was founded in 1878, and Cleaver-Layton is the church's first female pastor.
"The vision given by God for St. James AME Church is for it to be a place that will provide people around and within our area with a friendly, warm and caring atmosphere to worship and serve the Lord. The vision also entails ministering to the needs of the community by sharing the word of God through visitation, teaching, service and fellowship," she said. "When we teach God's word, the people will grow spiritually, and then the ministry will grow physically.
Cleaver-Layton credits her mother, Jimmie Faye Cleaver; her first pastor, the late James McClenty, and Henry Frasier Sr. with teaching her many valuable lessons.
"From my first pastor and my mother, I learned to ‘stay with the Lord.' No matter where my travels took me, I always knew to continue in the ways of God and to find a church home wherever I was residing. My first pastor and my mother also instilled in me to always treat people the way that I wanted to be treated."
Cleaver-Layton has been as an educator with the Liberty County Schools System since 1999. She was Teacher of the Year at Midway Middle School in 2004-05. Currently, she is a graduation coach at Midway Middle.
Layton has a bachelor's degree from Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Miss., and a master's of education from Armstrong- Atlantic State University. She has also completed four years of ministerial training with the AME Board of Examiners.
The Laytons have two children, Clyde Jr. and Monique. Clyde Jr. is a junior at Liberty County High Schhol and Monique is a chemist with Chemtal in Riceboro. Cleaver-Layton's husband and children are active in the church. Clyde Layton Sr. also works with a contractor at Fort Stewart.
In her spare time, the pastor enjoys reading, writing poetry and spending time with her family. The Laytons have been married for 25 years.
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