by Robert Earl Houston
Several months ago, I introduced a list of 10 of the Best Preachers I’ve Ever Heard and I received a lot of comments about my personal list – “who should have been on the list.” Now, a few short hours from Thanksgiving, I want to issue a Part 2 to that list.
On the original list, I noted the ministries of Pastors E.V. Hill, Donald L. Parson, Robert H. Wilson, Sr., E. Edward Jones, T.D. Jakes, A. Louis Patterson, R.A. Williams, Jr., E.K. Bailey, Melvin Von Wade, Sr. and Gardner Calvin Taylor. You can see that list and accompanying videos by clicking here now.
I want to now add ten more preachers. Unfortunately, some of the ministers don’t have any video online.
DR. ARTHUR BERNARD DEVERS, I, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – Dr. Devers was my father in the ministry who introduced me to the ministry and especially manuscript preaching. When he was called to the New Hope Baptist Church in Portland in 1975, the saying was if you went to hear him you needed two books – a Bible and a Dictionary. He taught me a love for words, sentence structure and was actively preaching in the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. International as he served congregations in Portland, Seattle and San Antonio.
DR. O.B. WILLIAMS, PORTLAND, OREGON – Simplistic, but profound. Low tech methods but high tech impact. Dr. O.B. Williams, one of the pioneers of the Northwest stood flatfooted and preached, with his manuscript paper clipped to sections of the text and preached folk crazy from the 1940s to 1991s. “Dr. O.B.” as he was affectionately called, pastored the church he founded for 45 plus years, served as “President for Life” of the General Baptist Convention of the Northwest, and was a stalwart of the NBCA and one of the founding fathers of the National Missionary Baptist Convention of America. He opened up his sermons with the words, “Is there any word from the Lord? Yes My dears, there is always a word from the Lord.” His smooth, sing-song method of sermon closure was imitated by generations in the Northwest.
DR. FRANK E. RAY, SR., MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE – I was one of the co-chairs of the San Diego City-Wide Revival when the name “Dr. Frank E. Ray, Sr.” was suggested as our evangelist. And when I met him, I learned to respect, admire, and frankly, covet the preaching gift encapsulated in Dr. Ray’s preaching. To say he has a photographic memory is an insult – he is completely absorbed in the Word and listening to him preach is like watching a sponge squeezed and whatever is stored within him is released. His close of his sermon is the template for a generation of young preachers and his argument has won him respect across the nation. He’s one that you must hear before you go to Glory. Tremendous pastor of the New Salem Baptist Church.
DR. ASA W. SAMPSON, SR., HOUSTON, TEXAS – When I was a young associate minister, my pastor had just invited Dr. Asa W. Sampson, Sr., of the legendary Sampson brothers legacy of Texas, to stand in the pulpit of New Hope Baptist Church. I was tremendously impressed. He was dapper, long curly hair, overtly kind and courteous (he would always use “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am” to the elderly sisters of the church), and his preaching (another manuscripter) was absolutely incredible. I never shall forget the sermon, “Looking At the World Through the Eyes of Jesus.” Years later, he brought me to preach for him at the Hopewell Baptist Church and I was a nervous wreck because I was standing in the pulpit where Dr. Sampson stood week after week. I still consider him a life-long friend and he is one of the best. Son of a preacher and father of a preacher.
DR. WILLIAM J. SHAW, PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – Dr. William J. Shaw is different. In the scheme of things in the Baptist world, he’s not flamboyant. He’s not loud. He doesn’t major in singing. He doesn’t minor in singing. He’s intellectual but he’s dynamically spiritual. I heard Dr. Shaw for the first time at the E.K. Bailey Conference in person and I was mesmerized. His handling of the text impressed me and just as meekly as he approached the sacred desk, he descended in same order. Dr. Shaw is perhaps going to be written in history as one of the best 25 black baptist preachers in history. He not only was a preacher’s preacher, he also served as President of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. during one of the stormiest periods in her history.
DR. STEPHEN JOHN THURSTON, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – I met Dr. Thurston as well at the New Hope Church in Portland and I believe he was in his early 30s and I said to him “one day you’ll be president of the National Baptist Convention of America.” I was so impressed because I had never heard that kind of preaching, fervor, zeal, singing and he brought it night after night after night. Unapologetically conservative in his theology, you won’t find Dr. Thurston hunting theological rabbits, but he is always solid in his theology. Not some times. Always solid. He blends in all facets of preaching and his strong point is his series preaching, which has led to the construction and occupancy of a massive sanctuary of the New Covenant Church in Chicago. He’s a President who doesn’t have an entourage to discourage him from mingling with the masses.
DR. KEVIN WAYNE COSBY, LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - I would do myself an injustice not to include Dr. Cosby to this list. His an academic, pastor, preacher, planner, theological school president, and one of the greatest sons that Kentucky has ever produced in preaching. Pastoring the same church, St. Stephen Baptist Church, since his early 20s, the congregation has blossomed to over 17,000 on roll, with three locations – Louisville, Jeffersonville (Indiana) and a recent third location (Elizabethtown, Kentucky). He is the honored President of Simmons College, which has made strides in accreditation and partnerships with academic, church and business institutions throughout Louisville. However, to me, the humility of how he handles the text is incredible. He stands as an academic, kills you as a theologian and then like grandmama says, “a good steak will always make it’s own gravy.”
BISHOP PAUL SYLVESTER MORTON, SR., ATLANTA, GEORGIA – He introduced the words “Changing a Generation” at an almost filled to the rafters Louisiana Superdome and the rest is history. Bishop Morton, who has led the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International for 20 plus years, is without a doubt one of America’s best preachers. His closing musical intonations are one part old fashioned gospel preacher with one part contemporary gospel artist with one part musical hymnologist. His close: “Is there anybody here?” with a drop of keys is impressive and everyone shouldn’t try this at home. He took Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church in New Orleans from a couple of hundred to over 20,000. When Hurricane Katrina hit the area, many of his members relocated to Atlanta and he planted “Changing a Generation Church” there, turned over the pastoral duties of GSS to his wife, Pastor Debra Morton, and he continues to plot a course. His records, albums, business acumen is to be respected, but there is nothing like the preaching of this man of God.
PASTOR MARCUS W. COSBY, HOUSTON, TEXAS – I heard him here in Kentucky for the first time and I had never seen a room explode in celebration of preaching like I did when this man of God preached. He dresses old school (black and white), he has old school mannerisms, but he has the strength and agility of a team of young school preachers. His context analysis is eye popping. His ability to allow the Holy Spirit to completely encapsulate his presentation is unbelievable. And physically, his body contorts and literally he leans completely backward without fear of falling. His ministry at the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church by way of Chicago has exploded and he is one of the nation’s best preachers.
BISHOP GILBERT EARL PATTERSON, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE – Bishop Patterson was a groundbreaking minister. He not only built one of the first megachurches in the Church of God in Christ, he also bought a radio station AND had an international television ministry. THEN he became the presiding prelate of COGIC. He was a literal preaching machine and he impressed me with his knowledge of the Old Testament. He could take a complicated text and unravel it and still retain the meaning. He is sorely missed on the preaching landscape today.