The International Single People’s Alliance began as a conversation between two sisters, Fannie M. Meriwether of St. Louis, Missouri and Vera L. Johnson of Leavenworth, Kansas during the 1985 Houston Texas Convention. They had often shared with each other the absence of convention programs offered to single persons. However, this time they were intrigued by the possibility of writing a resolution that would give rise to an organization that was uniquely created for the specific needs of single individuals in the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc.
Excited about the prospect of such a proposal, Sister Fannie and Sister Vera together wrote a resolution asking the PAW for a Singles Ministry. Dr. Aletha Cushinberry of Topeka, Kansas and Elder Robert L. Deas of Buffalo, NY who co-chaired the Resolutions Committee during the Houston Convention, had officially closed the door on the Resolution Committee business for this convention, but agreed to accept the Resolution Sister Vera and Sister Fannie had hastily written. With the help of Dr. Cushinberry and Elder Deas the resolution was re-written and the next day the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc. sanctioned the formation of the International Single People’s Alliance on the floor of the 1985 Houston Texas Convention.
The International Single People’s Alliance was conceived to be a worldwide support network of single Apostolic, Pentecostal men and women over the age of twenty-one who are single by choice, or who may be divorced, widowed, a single parent, and who are willing to form a close association for a common objective that is mutually beneficial, with complete unity of purpose. The primary purpose of the alliance is the edification of single people, to encourage them to be dedicated in service to the Lord Jesus Christ and to their beloved brothers and sisters, whether single, formerly married, or married.
Birthing the ISPA ministry was challenging due to many misconceptions as to its purpose. After much soul-searching and years of planning the ministry began to grow and single people began to respond to workshops that dealt with the real issues of single people; single people came to realize that single men and women had the right to enter in relationships without guilt or shame. As the first President of the ISPA, Sister Fannie Meriwether sought to promote excellence in programs and workshops with quality speakers too numerous to mention by name. Sister Fannie also planned workshops on the International level geared to married persons as well. In fact, the single’s ministry with its inclusive programming to married and those preparing for marriage, yielded opportunities for those who expressed an interest marriage to bring their desired marriage into reality.
Although the ISPA had been established as an auxiliary within the parent body, the concept of ministry to singles was slow to catch on and become established as an organization within many of our councils.
The Midwestern District Council and the Alabama District Council (Singles with Purpose) were among the first councils to establish a state ISPA auxiliary. Sister Fannie along with her staff continued fervently meeting with Diocesan Bishops’ and Council Chairperson’s to bring awareness about the ISPA. As members would take resolutions to their respective councils, more auxiliaries were added to the ISPA. Today we have 17 state councils that have established Council Singles Ministries.
The early history of the ISPA would not be complete without acknowledging the fact that early on, many of the delegates attending our sessions were women. It was encouraging to see that they were not simply focused on marriage, but were fervent in their pursuit of working for the Lord. Many of our single women are business women, entrepreneurs, evangelists, mothers, teachers, and others professionals who were committed to God, the work of their ministries, their families, and their careers. There were many women in the formative years of the ISPA, in addition to Sister Fannie, who labored and had great commitment to the ISPA including but not limited to Evangelist Barbara Daye, Evangelist Carol Hollis, Deborah McGowan and Evangelist Brenda Majors. Their level of commitment brought stability and solitude to the early foundation of the ISPA.
Before Sister Fannie left serving as the first President of the ISPA, she developed the ISPA logo: “IN SYNC” (IN Single Years Navigating with Christ). The logo is inscribed over a drawing of a paddle-boat steering wheel.
The ISPA would not be where it is today without the great support of those bishops who have served as Auxiliary Directors over the years. The ISPA has had at its helm distinguished Auxiliary Bishops namely: Bishop Jeremiah Reed of Des Moines, IA, Bishop Harry L. Herman of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Bishop Ronald Young of Cherry Hill, NJ, and Bishop Roland E. Hairston, Psy.D., of Seattle, WA. It was to Bishop Hairston’s credit that the ISPA Constitution and by-Laws were re-written and approved, ushering in the election of the ISPA’s contemporary slate officers.