by Robert Earl Houston
The acknowledged “Godfather” of expository preaching among African-American preachers was called home to be with the Lord today, April 9, 2014 – the Reverend Dr. Albert Louis Patterson, Jr., pastor of the Mount Corinth Missionary Baptist Church of Houston, Texas.
I met Dr. Patterson when I was a much younger man when he would preach in Revival in Portland, Oregon. To say Dr. Patterson was one of a kind is a misnomer because generations of preachers have since imitated and emulated their preaching preaching after Dr. Patterson.
He wasn’t just an expository preacher. He was a preaching lyricist of the highest order. To hear Dr. Patterson was to hear gumbo-listic preaching – he hit you with the text, oratory, poetry, interrogative statements (“I ask myself each day, Al Patterson are you….”), engagement, tenacity for the truths of the text, humor and truth. You would leave a preaching moment with Dr. Patterson in awe.
Later in life, in my 20s, I had the privilege to be selected to be a facilitator for a class at the L.K. Williams Institute and the speaker was none other than Dr. Patterson. Those moments before and after the class were priceless. I was the only one there from Portland and I hadn’t been pastoring yet and Dr. Patterson’s syllabus was not the notes he passed out, but the words he spoke.
Years later, our paths crossed at least once a year at WHW Ministries’ Expository Preaching and Teaching Conference, the L.K. Williams Institute, the E.K. Bailey Expository International Expository Preaching Conference, the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., and the Greater Trinity Baptist Church where one of his beloved sons in the faith, Dr. Clyde Elliott Gaines is the pastor.
At that time in San Diego, I was pastoring the New Hope Friendship Missionary Baptist Church and Dr. Patterson came every year and as his time came to stand, he was always complimentary of yours truly. “Pastor Houston is what we would call a quadruple threat . . . he can sing, tickle the ivories of the piano and organ, pray, and can preach.” I always valued his complimentary nature and you could tell he was not being just polite and he never passed out complimentary comments that were not true.
“Dr. Pat” as many of us call him sent young preachers flocking to the front row. He was a living example that you didn’t need a whoop, didn’t need the accompaniment of musicians, didn’t need a soulful strut in your voice, and you didn’t need a fancy suit to preach. He didn’t just closed but it was celebratory. He didn’t try to whoop but it was like lion’s roar. And the favorite of many a preacher (including me) was when he began to gear into his close he had almost a “crying close” when he would drop to the bass of his range, “…. and I—- don’t know how long it will be . . .” That was the Patterson moment I waited for in the sermon.
He leaves a plethora of preachers whom he has influenced. From the way we wore our suits (always black suits, tie, and extra long shirt cuffs), to an attentive ear during the sermon and an infectious smile. He wasn’t just a preacher, he was THE TEMPLATE for preachers.
He was a preacher, pastor, theologian, husband and a father of preachers. His traveling companion was his beloved wife, Melba and he had three children – Anthony, Albert III, Alan, and Alette.
A few highlights from his storied career:
- Recognized three times by his peers as a “Living Legend.”
- Taught and preached at the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
- Lectured for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
- Lectured for the Promise Keepers.
- Lectured for the Preachers Division, National Baptist Congress.
- Named by Ebony as one of America’s Greatest Black Preachers.
- Inducted into the Morehouse College Hall of Preachers.
- Pastored congregations in California and Texas.
- Author of three books, “Joy For the Journey,” “Wisdom in Strange Places,” and “Prerequisites for a Good Journey.”
- Lecturer, The Urban Alternative.
- Lecturer, American Baptist College, Nashville, TN.
- Lecturer, Mid-American Theological Seminary.
- Presenter in all four National Baptist conventions.
- Guest preacher in 14 State Conventions.
- Conductor of 25 different cities’ City Wide Revival.
- Lecturer, Morehouse College of Religion.
- Writer for Judson Press.
- Writer for the African-American Pulpit.
- Preacher of over 100 sermons and lecturers in the National Baptist Convention.
There will never be another Albert Louis Patterson, Jr. As he would close sometimes, “When I can read my title clear to mansions in the skies, I bid farewell to every fear, and wipe my weeping eyes . . .”
Well done, Dr. Patterson, well done.
YOUR COMMENTS WELCOMED