SENIOR PASTOR POSITION AVAILABLE
TRUE LIGHT BAPTIST CHURCH, GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN
The True Light Baptist Church is currently accepting nominations and applications for the position of Senior Pastor.
This congregation of 100 families believes the successful candidate must possess the following qualifications:
- Must be ordained and knowledgeable in the Baptist Doctrine
- God Fearing and devoted in the ministry
- A Spirit Filled speaker and presenter of the Gospel
- Able to provide a teaching and learning experience to the congregation
- Skilled in church management and supervision
- A capable counselor
- Interested in youth oriented programs
- The preferred candidate will have attained a Bachelor’s Degree from an
accredited four year college or university; and have four or more years’ experience as an Associate or Assistant Minister, with related progressive experience and/or training.
- The equivalent combination of education and experience may be considered on an individual basis.
- The candidate must have completed Seminary Training and be committed to continuing education to maintain and enhance ministerial and management skills.
Interested applicants should submit their resume or curriculum vitae along with a completed application packet and DVD of a sermon presented within the past three months.
You may obtain an application packet at our website http://www.thelightgr.org/ or by contacting the church office at (616)-247-8072.
Completed application packets must be received by February 24, 2015 to be considered.
PASTOR SEARCH AND NOMINATION COMMITTEE TRUE LIGHT BAPTIST CHURCH
900 THOMAS ST. SE
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN 49506
ATTN: Search Committee
Friendship Missionary Baptist Church 1775 West Broad Street Columbus, Ohio 43223
Pastor Vacancy Announcement
Friendship Missionary Baptist Church is seeking a full-time pastor called by God to be the spiritual and administrative leader of the congregation. The pastor is responsible to God and the church to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, to preach and teach the Bible, to provide Christian leadership, and to engage in pastoral care of the congregation.
Friendship Missionary Baptist Church was organized in August of 1922 by Reverend Solomon M. Smith, his wife Ida Smith, his immediate family, and a few other Christians. The church grew greatly over the years as it moved from its origin in a house on the West Side of Columbus to its sixth and current location. Friendship has been blessed to have had only three pastors in its ninety-two year history.
Today, Friendship Missionary Baptist Church has numerous ministries to serve the needs of the members and the community. Our mission statement is, “It is the intent and mission of the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church to be a church centered on Jesus Christ, controlled by the Holy Ghost and committed to uplift humanity through the proclamation of the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Friendship Missionary Baptist Church is a member of the National Missionary Baptist Convention of America, the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention, the Eastern Union Missionary Baptist Association, and the Ohio Baptist General Convention.
The ideal candidate must:
Be a licensed and ordained Baptist preacher
Be filled with and led by the Holy Spirit and meet the qualities and characteristics set forth in 1Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9
Believe and exemplify biblical characteristics
Have a degree from an accredited theological seminary
Have a minimum of five (5) years of pastoral experience
Demonstrate visionary leadership to grow church membership
Believe in and adhere to the practice of Baptist doctrine, ordinances, and polity Exhibit a passion to preach and teach the unadulterated Word of God
Possess strong written and oral communication skills
Have a sense of church administration, organization and financial management Value interpersonal relationships with the various ministries of the church
Aspire to establish, foster and maintain a strong sense of community
Be mission minded
Recognize and actively promote the gifts and talents of the church body
Be above reproach in personal character and financial standings both inside and outside the church.
Interested candidates should submit the following:
- Cover letter
- Updated and complete resume
- Detailed listing of ministerial and pastoral experiences
- Copies of diplomas, degrees, ministerial license, and ordination certificate
- Four references:
- Two (2) from pastors/clergy
- One (1) from lay person
- One (1) personal
All documents should be submitted to:
Pulpit Committee Friendship Missionary Baptist Church P.O. Box 23471 Columbus, Ohio 43223
All documents must be received between January 5, 2015 and February 7, 2015.
New Hope Baptist Church is now accepting resumes to fill the position of Pastor. We are seeking an ordained preacher/teacher to fill the position of Pastor. All travel and lodging expenses will be the responsibility of the candidate. Please send resumes and letter of interest to:
New Hope Baptist Church
Attention: Pastoral Search Committee
524 E. Willard Street
Muncie, Indiana 47302
Resumes will be accepted until January 12, 2015
From the American Baptist Newspaper, December 15, 2014 Edition
by Robert Earl Houston
UPDATED, TUESDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2014 -
Funeral plans / Memorial Concert set for Pastor Gordon Humphrey, Jr.
Members, Friends and Family will have three days to honor the life of Pastor Gordon Humphrey, Jr. of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church of Chicago and Olivet Baptist Church in Oakland, California.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Saturday, December 20, 2014
12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Pastor Humphrey Jr.’s body will lie in state
Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church of Chicago
10540 S. Halsted, Chicago, IL 60625
Sunday, December 21, 2014
6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Memorial Concert will feature gospel artists
from the Chicagoland area
House of Hope
752 E. 114th Street, Chicago, IL 60628
Monday, December 22, 2014
11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (doors open at 10 a.m.)
House of Hope
752 E. 114th Street, Chicago, IL 60628
Private Burial Immediately Following
One of the most gifted preachers, bishops, pastors, mentors, singers, musician, and recording artists has gone home to be with the Lord. Bishop Gordon A. Humphrey, Jr., pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church, Chicago, Illinois, went home to be with the Lord on Sunday, December 14, 2014 he was 60 years old.
Homegoing Services are pending. Below is a bio which appeared on the website of the congregation he formerly pastored in Oakland, California, which he recently installed a new pastor:
Pastor Gordon A. Humphrey Jr. was born to the proud parent of Gordon Humphrey, Sr. and Helen Humphrey in Ohio. Rev. Humphrey’s father pastored the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois for over 40 years. Rev. Humphrey was reared in the Chicago public school system and later attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. He is accompanied in ministry by his wife Diane and two children, Gordon III and Cha’Rena.
Pastor Humphrey is noted for his prolific urban message that encourages people from all walks of life to give their lives to Christ. He has been the Pastor and visionary of the Olivet Institutional Missionary Baptist Church in Oakland, California for the past 30 years. Rev. Humphrey is in great demand as an evangelist and his ministry has allowed him to preach the Gospel across the entire nation.
Pastor Humphrey is currently the Senior Pastor of 3 churches: Olivet Church, Oakland, CA, Olivet Church, Stockton, CA, and the Shiloh Baptist Church in Chicago, IL
After a brief sabbatical, along with a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, God spoke to Pastor Humphrey regarding the direction for his ministry. Out of this came a new and nonconventional approach to worship that accepts people as they are but challenges them not to stay in the shape they’re in. This was also a time when the Olivet Church began to experience a worship experience that has been implemented in other churches across the country.
Over 20 years ago Pastor Humphrey established “Sunday Night Live,” a service where all are welcome to come and experience the presence of God without condemnation or judgment. This “Come As You Are” service has been modeled by Pastors and churches across the nation. Pastor Humphrey is also the executive producer of the CD entitled, Olivet Oakland, Sunday Night Live! “You’re In The Right Place At The Right Time.” This project has gained national and international recognition for its inspirational and spirit filled tracks.
Pastor Humphrey is a visionary with boldness to proclaim the Word without compromise. He is inspired by God, directed by the Spirit, and passionate about people and their growth. He is forever your servant, Pastor Gordon A. Humphrey Jr.
by Robert Earl Houston
“This movie was horrible” was the first thing that crossed my lips at the conclusion of the new movie “Exodus: Gods and Kings.” It seems like Hollywood is hell bent on using promising Biblical narratives (see: Noah) and then turning the story upside down. My problem (and I suspect the problem of many) will be if you have even a rudimentary knowledge of the story of Moses and the flight of the Hebrews from Egyptian captivity – what you see on the screen will not jive with the Biblical narrative.
I too was distracted by the lack of people of color in the starring roles. It was like watching a high school production of “Purlie” and there were no black actors available. They seemed oddly out of place, pale, and spoke more European english than American english. The costumes were not strong enough to be convincing that there was a person of color shortage in Hollywood.
The script is very loosely based on Biblical fact and unbelievable.
SPOILER ALERT – if you have not seen the film and don’t want things exposed to you, stop reading here. Otherwise, here we go:
There are five things that are ridiculous in this movie:
First, Moses’ encounter with “God” is absolutely insane. According to the movie, Moses is rounding up three sheep on the side of a movie, for some unknown reason, in the midst of a driving rain storm and becomes the victim of a mudslide, which results in him being knocked unconscious. While unconscious, he wakes up engulfed in mud, and is face to face with “God” who is a small european descent child who allows Moses to argue back and forth with him. There is no “let my people go” and the “I am” phrase is uttered and then “God” disappears.
Secondly, Moses’ encounter with Ramses is way off key. Instead of Moses killing an Egyptian for torturing a Hebrew, Moses is “outted” as a Hebrew by his sister and is reunited with his birth mother, at the insistence and persistence of Ramses’ mother. Their rivalry is strange as well, especially since Pharaoh is obviously a huge Moses fan, but has made it clear that his blessing is upon Ramses.
Thirdly, the plagues were difficult to watch. Instead of confronting Ramses/new Pharaoh, “God” tells Moses “you won’t have to do a thing” which is not sensible or biblical. In the Bible, Moses and Ramses were confrontational. In this context, Moses sits on the sidelines while “God” sends plagues seemingly for no reason. The Nile River is turned to blood when “God” causes alligators to appear from the waters and attack a fishing vessel and then the alligators turn on each other and the Nile River is full of blood. The other plagues were interesting to watch but the reaction of Ramses and Egypt was strange.
Fourthly, these slaves were not caught in the mechanics of slavery. They didn’t look that oppressed throughout the movie. I saw more oppression in “Twelve Years a Slave” than I did in this movie. When they left slavery in Egypt, it looked like they were packing up entire neighbors and a mass exodus looked like a mass gentrification.
Fifthly, the Red Sea. Oh my friend – it ticked me off to see how this played out. Moses is scared of Ramses and he has a four day head start on their army. (By the way, Moses is a master military genius and in the movie, he trains the Hebrews (who are supposed to be in slavery) how to fight as marksmen). Moses decides to cut through the mountains which will slow the Egyptian armies because their vehicles and supplies can’t endure the slopes and hills. Oddly, Moses and “dem” make it through without few problems, but when Ramses and his boys come through, the whole hillside collapses, wiping out about a third of his army.
Then they get to the Red Sea and Moses is waiting for “low tide” instead of a miracle from God. Not only that, the ground is noticeably wet and ponding, unlike the Biblical account that they crossed through the Red Sea “on dry ground.” When Ramses and his army shows up, the Red Sea all of a sudden raises up and kills the army, some Hebrews, and even Moses is caught up in the water but protected.
These five reasons alone are a reason not to go. Not to mention that when “God” and Moses meet up on the mountain after making it to the other side, Moses has to construct, build and write his own tablets, taking dictation from “God.”
This movie was terrible. If you want closer Biblical accuracy, rent or download “The Ten Commandments” or catch it this Easter on ABC. Otherwise, I recommend going to any other movie accept this one. This movie should die of gross neglect from the Christian community.
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED
by Robert Earl Houston
I have been black in America since May 16, 1960. I’ve always viewed myself as American by birth because I have never lived nor desired to live outside of what I consider to be a blessed United States of America. I have worked for this government, received assistance while growing up in a single-parent household, even received assistance as i was attempting to matriculate through the halls of higher education. I pay my taxes. I follow all of the laws of the land that don’t violate conscious. And to a degree I am patriotic – my father served in World War II and I was the result of the “baby boomer” generation.
But today, I have trouble in my breathing. No, it’s not because of an Asthmatic condition or a condition of the lungs or the muscles that surround the area of my breathing apparatus. My problem is that my breathing has been affected by another black man, dead at the hands of police officers, the case being sent to a grand jury, and when you are looking for the system that you studied and honored to do right, decides to say “pass” on the possibility of indictment. The song is not changing – it happens in many of our states with the same impunity . . . I cannot exhale.
I’ve been holding my breath through the years hoping that one grand jury would at least take into consideration that in a nation where you are 20 times more likely to be shot and killed by law enforcement than other cultures. I thought, by 2014, that the vicissitudes of the creed of this nation, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” would have become engrained in our national psyche. Instead, we have learned that those who held the pen who wrote the preamble and the first laws of this nation also held the key to slaves under their subjugation. We have learned that it took well over 100 years for African-Americans to be recognized as equal citizens in a society that we helped build, construct, and laid our lives down, to create a “Christian nation.”
I’ve been holding my breath to see real change and opportunity. I would have hoped that by now college would not become the new place of privilege as it has become too burdensome and too expensive to complete a college education. I would have hoped that some state or community would have said by now that since our taxpayers paid for it, that we should allow anyone who comes, to receive an education.
I’ve been holding my breath that the great society that President Lyndon B. Johnson envision would have at least added several stories to it’s foundation. However, the nation is rattled with an obsession to allow jobs, taxes, and opportunities go to nations that in some cases, want to see our destruction or have interest in seeing us fail. Jobs are needed in Gary, Indiana, Chicago, Illinois, Louisville, Kentucky, Birmingham, Alabama, Houston, Texas, Shreveport, Louisiana, and dozens of cities that are “chocolate cities” that need infusion of jobs that will put people of color to work other than low-paid restaurant jobs. The infrastructure of our nation is crumbling while politicians of every political stripe are busy playing the politics of personal destruction.
I’ve been holding my breath that the Christian community would respond to these issues with swiftness and acumen. Instead it takes weeks if not months for some of our denominational leaders to pen a paper on the outrage of situations. I will hand it to my former denominational leader, Dr. Melvin Von Wade, Sr., he was proactive and being on his staff, he wanted me to make sure that his voice was heard among the many not weeks or months after any tragedy, but that his one of the first voices that were heard. Instead our denominational leaders remind me of a sign that I saw in my third church that spoke of financial written requests: “PLEASE EXPECT THREE WEEKS FOR PROCESSING” when there was only two offices separating the office of the Pastor and the Office of the Administrator. I would hope that the thousands of dollars we spend on getting people elected to office would at least include a computer, an internet connection, and words address situations and not attached to appeals for funds. If there was ever a time for a joint statement by our denominational leaders – it was yesterday.
I’ve been holding my breath that the other cultures, who may not agree with our anger, would at least place their feet in our shoes for a few moments. Last year (2013) in Gary, Indiana, in the suburbs returning to my hotel room after ordering some fish, I was profiled. I was a black man, in a late model year car, driving on a US Interstate Highway, at the speed limit – but my problem was i was a black man, in a late model year car, driving on a US Interstate Highway. I was pulled over and then the officer told me I had no insurance. I pulled out my insurance card and he said that didn’t mean anything. I looked at him and said, am I under arrest? He looked at me and said, no and acted as if he had another call to take. I guess that cell phone on record mode helped change his mind. If I had not had that piece of equipment, God only knows my outcome. Until you walk in the shoes of a black man of stature – to see the scared eyes of women who clutch their purses, store detectives who follow your every move, ignorance by store personnel while you’re shopping, and the asking for ID when making a purchase when someone of other color was not asked for the same, you have no idea what it’s like to be black in America. We’re celebrated for athletics and not taken serious academically.
I’m angry but I’m not stupid. I will protest as able but I will not engage myself in behavior that will destroy or burn down property and businesses of which fellow African-Americans have built with their bare hands, but conversely, I understand the anger, I understand the rage, and I optimistically, as a Christian, look forward to a better day.
And then, I will exhale . . .
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED
Although it is Thanksgiving weekend that will be filled with family, friends, food and of course, football, the culmination of the holiday this year cannot be football or basketball or hockey games on Sunday. This year, due to what has happened in Ferguson, Missouri – the culmination has to be preaching.
For those pastors who will be home Sunday or for those associates or guest preachers who will be filling pulpits across the country, to simply preach without making a reference to or directly speaking to or prophetically preaching to the pain of the African American community and the society at large is malpractice.
Someone once asked his pastor, “what I do I preach?” The pastor told him to get out of his ivory tower office at the church, go to the hospitals, hang out in the barber shops, go to the grocery stores and then he would find more than enough to preach. Preaching that is void of connectivity to current and relevant circumstances is not preaching, it’s a speech in a robe.
The circumstances of Mike Brown’s death are certainly well known. I think what the majority culture of this country fails to realize is that the anger in the streets is not about another death, because when you pull out the statistics, you are more likely to be killed by a member of your own race than from another (i.e., more blacks kill blacks; more whites kill whites; more asians kill asians” according to FBI murder statistics. In 37 years of ministry, I have buried victims of murder and in not one instance was it someone who was killed from someone outside of their race.
That’s not the issue. The issue is that the perception within the minority races of this country is the cavalier nature of our value when it comes to the color of authority – when those men and women who wear uniforms as police, state patrol, national guard, etc., a reasonable argument could be made that instead of “taking down” a suspect via a disabling shot to the arm or leg, that deadly force is not the last option, but the first option. Further, it is well believed in our community that if a person of color (especially one who has no money) is dealing with judicial system they are less likely to succeed or they are less likely to receive adequate and aggressive representation. Sentencing statistics are staggering and prior to President Obama’s administration, a man convicted of a small portion of “rock” cocaine would get a greater sentence that a man convicted of a small, more-potent portion of “powder” cocaine.
Whether it’s true or not, it’s the perception. Add to the mix that we are losing our heroes. Our politicians that represent us are rarely seen in the community once they are elected. In my area, our state representative is visible and viable. We all know where his office is, we all know where he worships, we see him in the grocery stores and at community events. But the truth of the matter is that many of our politicians show up to our churches to campaign for votes, many of them rarely stay for the entire worship, and it is rare to see any even give during the offering. Even our celebrities are found with clay feet. They are not the larger-than-life personalities we once thought they were. Whether it’s true or not it’s the perception.
Freedom of expression is a Constitutional right. Rioting is not. I propose a different type of rioting – let’s riot in our communities. Let’s fix them ourselves. Let’s employ our anger into making real change. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and those of the movements of the 60s and 70s fought for our rights as citizens. Now we must make our citizenship real. We cannot complain when less than 40% of us vote. We cannot complain when 80% of us try to escape jury duty. We cannot complain when we fill up an auditorium to see Beyonce and Jay-Zee at $200 a ticket and then stay home on Sunday mornings and disconnect from our communities in the worship hour.
This weekend we need to preach Biblical answers to our feelings of pain, hurt and ethos. This weekend we need to dig deeper and yes, even suggest that justice also has to be meted out with grace and forgiveness. We need to preach that misplaced anger only damages ourselves. During the Rodney King riots, I visited a friend who worked at the Arco Tower in Los Angeles and we were there watching the riots and noticed that it only happened in one part of town – the African-American part of the city, and it was literally on fire – black businesses, black homes, black stores, black car dealerships, black churches.
Our communities are hurting. Our young men are without viable fathers in the home. Our young girls have been valued for their whirls and gyrations instead of their beauty and brains. Our institutions of higher learning connect during the day and disconnect after hours with the communities in which they serve. Our school boards don’t represent the community. Our elected officials rarely represent the communities. Our leaders have gotten older and less imaginative. Those who speak for us really don’t in many cases because of their lack of a God-directed voice or agenda. The recession may be over on Wall Street but the depression is still gripping our communities – especially in our larger cities.
This is not just a “black problem” because any part of the larger context of society that is in pain creates a context of pain to the larger whole. Every community has its set of problems but it’s effects affects the larger society. The millions who our President wants to bring out of the shadows should not be viewed as “less that human” because they sought for themselves and their families a better life. However, the plight of Hispanic-Americans affect the larger context and therefore the larger discussion within our society as well.
The issue of Mike Brown cannot be solely rested as a black problem. It is a complete breakdown of the system. Why deadly force was preferred instead of other methods including tazing of which the officer was to have said to the grand jury that he didn’t prefer to carry it because it was uncomfortable. Why a dead body was let to stay in the hot sun for four hours and no immediate response by EMS services because it “was a crime scene?” Why a grand jury, secretive in nature, was allowed to meet and yet details from their proceedings made it to television and print media and no judge acted accordingly to slap a gag order on all participants or at least considered dismissing that grand jury and impaneling another? Why a Prosecuting Attorney handling one of the biggest cases in the area’s history would boldly come to the microphone and say that instead of him pro-actively handling the case, that he “turned it over” to two other attorneys within his office? Why the National Guard was ordered deployed and yet black businesses were left to burn unprotected? And finally, why make a decision that everyone knew was going to kindle emotion and reaction be announced in the middle of the night, after office hours, after everyone knew in law enforcement, judicial, government and schools, instead of during the daylight hours when it would have been less attractive to the potential of danger? These are not black problems – they are societal flaws that need to be addressed.
We cannot be satisfied with a small percentage of us voting. It’s got to not only be voter-eligible but we need to become candidate-eligible. We’ve got to encourage people of color to run for offices – even if they don’t win, we need to be on every ballot in every state – regardless as to the political party.
This weekend – my brother, my sister – no matter what denomination you hail from; No matter what convention or fellowship you are a member of; No matter what side of the political spectrum you stand upon; Roll up your sleeves, humble before the Lord, dig deep, search the Scriptures, get into Logos, WordSearch, whatever resources you use . . . This weekend – YOU MUST PREACH.
EDITOR’S NOTE – I am on sick leave and I saw this very interesting and compelling post concerning Bill Cosby, who is certainly in the news headlines, and for many in my age group, we “grew up” watching him on I Spy and famously, The Cosby Show. I want to interject this perspective from a young man that I watched developed in ministry in his formative years in San Diego. His father, the late Dr. Willie James Smith, and I pastored together in San Diego – just a few short blocks apart. We were in the same district (Progressive), state (California Missionary Baptist State Convention) and national (National Missionary Baptist Convention of America), and share pulpits for many, many years. I want to introduce him to you and his unique perspective of this news event. A dynamic young minister and I’m sure you’ll be challenged by his point of view!
INTRODUCTION – Kristian Smith was born February 23, 1984 to W. James and Toni Smith in Oakland, CA and spent much of his adolescence in San Diego, CA. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in telecommunications in 2006 as well as his Master in Business Administration in 2009, both from Alabama A&M University where he was an all-conference performer and team captain of the SWAC Champion AAMU football team. During his college years he was also an active member of the Alabama A&M Gospel Choir. In 2005, Kristian received one of the highest honors of his life, when the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame named him a National Scholar Athlete for his athletic prowess and academic success. He was only one of 18 student-athletes from across the country to receive this honor.
He’s had a sincere desire for the word of God from his childhood and acknowledged his call to preach at the age of 22. As a preacher and worship leader the primary aim of his ministry is to remain faithful to God’s word and see people’s lives positively impacted as a result of his obedience to Christ. He has served in many areas of ministry including worship leader, conference planner and facilitator, bible teacher, and youth worker. His ultimate goal is for God to be perpetually glorified in his life and through his ministry. Kristian is a fitness and fashion consultant and he is currently a studying at McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University in pursuit his Master of Divinity degree. He is an assistant worship leader at the House of Hope, Atlanta in Decatur, GA where Dr. E. Dewey Smith Jr. is his pastor. Kristian is also married to the former Ms. Pamela Merritt.
Cliff Huxtable vs. Bill Cosby
by Kristian Smith
I am not, nor do I claim to be a blogger. I’m a entrepreneur/minister who feels compelled to share my view on the Bill Cosby rape allegations.
Today I preached a message entitled “Cliff Huxtable vs. Bill Cosby: Living in a Dichotomy between your reputation and your Character.” I didn’t share the message with the intent of vilifying Bill Cosby, but rather the opposite. I believe we as Christians should check ourselves before we start throwing stones at Bill Cosby, while we are comfortably perched in our glass houses.
I do not in any way excuse the heinous nature and troubling pathology of the crimes for which Cosby is accused. They are terrible crimes, and if he is guilty he should be held accountable.
But, the fact of the matter is, many of us, in our personal lives, have lived like Cliff Huxtable in the public and acted like Bill Cosby in private. If his crimes are legit, WE are the ones who overlooked them for years because we were so enamored with the idea of Cliff Huxtable that we ignored the fallibility of Bill Cosby. “Surely Cliff, America’s favorite TV Dad for the past 30 years, wouldn’t rape someone.”
Whether he did or he didn’t is not my judgment to make. But I do know that I am in no position to sit in the seat of judgment, with all of my shortcomings. We have all done some things we don’t want to come to light. We just don’t have the fame, fortune, wealth, power and influence of Bill Cosby. And whether you agree or not, the fact of the matter is, the aforementioned factors only intensify your vices. So, imagine your current vices multiplied by 1000 because you have unthinkable wealth and power. I don’t know about you, but that is a scary thought for me.
I’m saying this to say we cannot discredit Cosby’s entire legacy because of his misdeeds. As a Christian, I am directing this post specifically towards other Christians. If you can’t compare Cosby to yourself, then consider our beloved King David, the most powerful and successful king in the history of Israel. He’s one of the most talked about and beloved biblical characters in the Christian tradition. Yet, if we read his whole story closely, we will find that David was guilty of adultery, deception, murder and possibly rape (if you don’t think it’s possible for King David to be guilty of rape, go back and read 2 Samuel 11. Tell me where Bathsheba consented to having sex with him. I’m not saying it’s a guarantee that he raped her. I also can’t say, for sure, that he didn’t rape her. He saw her; he sent for her; he had sex with her. Did Bathsheba have an option to say “No” to the king? We don’t know because the text was written in a patriarchal society and it has been interpreted through the lens of a patriarchal society. So the writer of the text gave Bathsheba a name, but he gave her no voice. Ultimately, when chapter 11 ends, the writer says God was only displeased with David).
So, with all of these charges against David, have we removed the 23rd Psalm from out Canon? Can we no longer say “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want?” Have we stripped him of his legacy because of his misdeeds? No, we recognize that although he did some foul things in his life, he was a “man after God’s own heart.”
So, before we discredit and scrutinize everything Bill Cosby had ever done, let’s remember that we have some issues of our own. Also, let’s remember that David wasn’t always a model citizen but we constantly celebrate his good deeds and inspirational works.
Residents of Deptford’s Jericho section are saying goodbye this weekend to a man who gave more than 60 years to his community and his faith.
Rev. William Donald Willis, assistant pastor at the First Baptist Church of Jericho, died Nov. 18. The preacher, who was a fixture in Jericho and a dedicated participant in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, was 100 years old.
“I used to hear him preach from the time I was 10 years old,” said Rev. Clabon Bogan, the pastor of First Baptist for the past 20 years. “I’ve known him for almost 50 years. That grew to the point where there was a vacancy here at the church, and Rev. Willis was the one who approached me about the position I hold now.”
A native of Carolina County, Virginia, Willis moved to Camden with his family at the age of 13. It was at New Mickle Baptist Church in the city that Willis met his wife, Mildred Ann Graham, who died in 2001. The couple had three children and raised one of their nephews as well.
After leaving school with a sixth-grade education to help support his family with a railroad job, Willis eventually returned to school, graduating from Woodrow Wilson High School before attending seminary and earning a doctorate degree.
Willis worked as the main pastor of First Baptist from 1953 to 1983. In those 30 years, he was a major player in a variety of initiatives, including establishing a church summer camp and holding a number of positions in the statewide Bethany Baptist Association.
In the 1960s and ’70s, Willis became a major local leader of the Civil Rights movement. He brought a number of guest ministers to Jericho to discuss a range of social topics, and attended Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington in the summer of 1964. Willis also hit the picket lines with other members of the clergy when Irene Hill-Smith, the leader of the local NAACP chapter at the time, was held in jail.
“He was bigger than life to us,” said his daughter, Karen Burgwin. “He loved people, and he loved helping people. And he was very mission-minded. He reached out to people all over the world and was very adamant about the church’s involvement with foreign missions and locally as well.”
As far as his political activism went, Burgwin said, “he determined he was free like everybody else.
“He took us everywhere,” said Burgwin. “He stepped out along with other community leaders like Irene Hill-Smith to make sure that people’s rights weren’t being stomped on.”
Willis did not take his children to see King speak in Washington, but his daughter Cheryl Rolen shared one memory of seeing her father in action.
“I can remember an episode here in Woodbury where he took my sister and I and a couple of our friends to the diner, and the lady didn’t want to wait on us. He spoke with the manager, and then he let us order seafood platters,” Rolen said, laughing.
“We made her awfully angry. I know he did things like that. He didn’t usually pull us into them, but he did do things like that.”
On a personal level, Willis’ daughters said friends and family could always count on him to listen to their problems, provided they were ready to hear what he thought. Soft-spoken but principled, Willis always stood by his convictions.
“He was a very caring person. People knew when they came to him that he was going to listen, but that he was also going to tell them the truth, whatever that truth was.”
And although he may have been busy throughout his career, his daughters said, he never forgot about his family. Willis was particularly fond of food and travel, and was a charismatic friend who loved to hear personal anecdotes and share jokes.
After stepping down from the pulpit in the First Baptist Church, Willis spent the later years of his career working as an interim minister at several different congregations. He came back to Jericho as an interim before signing on as assistant pastor when Bogan joined the church in 1994. Willis had to scale back his activity in his late 90s when he was diagnosed with dementia, but he kept the title of assistant pastor until he died.
“He had the ability to show his love even though he didn’t voice it. It was about action and not rhetoric,” said his grandson, Chris Rolen. “As I embark on my own personal development, I realize he embodied changing yourself so you can change the world. When I think about him dropping out of school and getting a doctorate and becoming a scholar, the places that he’s been and educating himself the way he did, that’s what I want people to remember about him. He changed himself so that he could change the world.”
Willis is pre-deceased by three sisters and eight brothers. He is survived by his younger sister, Pearl, who lives in Camden; his daughters Karen and Cheryl of Woodbury; son Charles of Philadelphia; numerous grandchildren as well as great and great-great-grandchildren; and his nieces and nephews.
A viewing will be held for Willis Friday evening from 6 to 9 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Jericho, 981 Mail Ave., Deptford. The family will greet visitors at 9 a.m. on Saturday, and a funeral service will be held afterward at 11 a.m.