MLK keynote speaker

Rev. Sheila Willis Timberlake

The Harrison County NAACP Branch No. 6185 has a special treat in store as the Rev. Sheila Willis Timberlake, pastor of Bethel CME Church in Beckville, has been tapped as the keynote speaker for this year’s 36th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration banquet.

“She’s a dynamic, enthusiastic person,” said local president, Jim McCutchens.

The banquet is slated for 6:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 20, at Marshall Convention Center. Doors open at 6 p.m.

NAACP officials encourage all to come to the banquet to be inspired.

“We’re looking for the public to come out and support us,” said local vice president, Zephaniah Timmins.

McCutchens said Timberlake is renowned in the East Texas church community and in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Conference where she has served as the annual conference prayer coordinator under the leadership of Bishop Henry Williamson; conference musician under the leadership of Bishop Ronald M. Cunningham; and on the conference praise team under current leader Senior Bishop Lawrence L. Reddick III. She currently holds the position of district director of Young Adult Ministries.

“She’s a dynamic speaker,” said McCutchens.

The Wiley College A cappella choir and instrumental ensemble will provide the music for the occasion, under the direction of Dr. Gregory McPherson.

According to her bio, the banquet speaker, Timberlake, hails from generations of pastors, preachers, elders, evangelists, and missionaries.

Baptized at age 9, she preached her first gospel message at age 17 and received her Minister of Evangelism license in 2003. As a pastor of more than 12 years, Timberlake says her passion, vision and goal is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.

Timberlake previously hosted a radio ministry titled Sharing Jesus Worldwide, and served as a member of the organizational board of the Summers Adventures in Learning (SAIL), a free academic summer program serving children and youth in Marion County.

For more than 28 years, she’s been employed as a paralegal with a nonprofit law firm that provides free civil legal services to low-income Texans. She is also licensed with the state of Texas as a licensed professional counselor-intern and conducts a Grief Recovery Group where she equips individuals with coping strategies to deal with the aftermath of loss.

The local NAACP branch encourages the public to not only come out and support the celebratory banquet, but to become a part of the organization.

“We’re looking for people to register and join the NAACP,” said Timmins. “The support shows strength in numbers.”

This year’s celebratory theme is: “Defeat Hate- Vote; Your Vote Counts.”

In addition to the evening banquet, the daylong celebration will feature a noon parade, and youth talent show.

Tickets are currently available for the evening banquet at $25 per individual. A table for 12 can also be sponsored for $400 apiece. The deadline to sponsor a table is Jan. 15.

“The price includes advertisement in the souvenir booklet,” said McCutchens.


Entries for the noon-day parade will be accepted up until the day of the parade. The fee is $10 per entry. McCutchens said that includes $10 per motorcycle, per horse, etcetera.

The parade will start at the 1901 Harrison County Historical Courthouse at the downtown square in Marshall. All cars, trucks, horses, marching bands, drill teams, cheer squads, organizations, elected officials and more are welcome to participate.

Following the parade, the youth talent show will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Marshall Convention Center’s auditorium.

The NAACP invites students from the local schools, day cares, colleges, universities, organizations and churches to participate.

“This event is free to all. Come and encourage our youth,” organizers said.

Application forms for the parade and tickets for the banquet can be received by calling Jim McCutchens at 903-926-3418 or chairperson, Cassandra James, at 903-934-2837.

The local branch can also be emailed at