AHERN’s beginning started as a hobby in 1999 as a newsletter. It was called the Tabernacle Chronicle, for Tabernacle Baptist Church. Rev. H.R. Mills would leave work at 10:00 p.m. and go to the church. He would work there from 11:00 p.m. to about 3:00 a.m. preparing his sermon and church bulletin for Sunday mornings. Rev. Mills would spend the last hour and a half designing the newsletter.
One day, while at work, a colleague saw the newsletter on his desk and said, “that looks like a magazine.” Rev. Mills discontinued the newsletter in 2001.
In 2004, Rev. Mills started having health issues and was informed that he had two options: go back to work and have back surgery every 3 to 6 months, or go on disability. After 3 back surgeries, Rev. Mills decided not to continue trying to work, but instead, went on disability.
In 2005, as a hobby to stay busy, Rev. Mills picked the newsletter back up and came up with a new format and name. The newsletter was called, Fellowship Today. It was designed to communicate news and activities in upper and lower East Tennessee.
Rev. Mills sought the help of Rev. Frederick Gordon, Mary Breedlove, Beverly Phipps, Vivian Releford, and Rev. Cecil C. Mills, Jr. This group of individuals decided to organize as a support group and later decided to organize as a board. Rev. Gordon made two suggestions, first, the group be called HERN, Incorporated and second, change the name from Fellowship Today to HERN Magazine (Health, Education, Religion, and News). The group voted to approve the changes.
After several days of deciding the mission of HERN, Rev. Gordon suggested the mission of HERN should read, “To reach outside of one community and touch other communities with the hope of becoming a voice for the African American Community; to improve communication and encourage individuals, groups, and organizations to take pride in their historical culture through public forums and publications”. Due to many individuals having the last name HERN, the decision was made in 2009 to change the name from HERN to AHERN (African-American Health, Education, Religion, and News). The board agreed and adopted this as their mission statement.
Rev. Cecil Mills, Jr. contacted a law firm in Greeneville to draw up the bylaws. Once submitted, The State of Tennessee approved AHERN, Incorporated as a non-profit organization in 2005.
Today, AHERN, Incorporated operates as an African American communication ministry that highlights the achievements and news of African Americans in East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and the nation.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
CHARTER BOARD MEMBERS
AHERN MAGAZINE STAFF
Rev. Roger Mills, Jr., Publisher
Region 2: Claiborne, Greene, Hawkins Counties
Region 3: Cocke, Hamblen, Jefferson Counties
Region 4: Anderson, Blount, Knox Counties