The EKBPC Living Legend – Dr. Melvin Von Wade, Sr.

by Robert Earl Houston

Photo by: Robert Earl Houston

I think it needs to be said that Dr. Melvin Von Wade, Sr. is DESERVING of the honor bestowed upon him at the “Living Legend Luncheon” and be inducted into the hall of great preachers in the E.K. Bailey Preaching Conference and Pastor Bryan Carter. Last night, I walked through the exhibit of the Living Legends and I’m grateful that I have heard personally most of them.

I’ve known Dr. Wade since the 1970s when the late Dr. E.C. Wilder would bring him to preach for the St. Mark Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon. I had never heard nor seen preaching like that and after I had been called to preach – I studied him (among several great preachers) because I marveled at how his handled a manuscript.

His support of several younger pastors including myself and my brother, Dr. Bryant C. Wyatt, Sr. and preachers all over the nation, pushed us into leadership positions in the State and in the National. Because of his labor, the four National Baptist Conventions met together twice . . . with his strong influence and input.

He’s been like the college professor that you both respect and revere. I will never forget, and he doesn’t do often (at least with me – smile), after I had gone through my season of storms, he very calmly and quietly said, “Houston . . . you never quit.” That meant much to me.

For generations of preachers, Dr. Wade has been the Rolls Royce of manuscript, expository preaching. For those of us who would have fallen into the trap of not challenging the congregation with our vocabulary, Dr. Wade taught us how to go behind words and get their meaning and sharpen our vocabulary when preaching. To use his words, “I learned a new word.” He taught me the way – he is an avid reader of all material, including Reader’s Digest. I think one of the things that any young preacher could learn from him is to read, read, and read some more. Alliterations don’t come without the benefit of feeding your mind and spirit.

He, along with his brother in the faith, Dr. E.K. Bailey, did not do what previous generations did when illness struck. Instead of being silent, Dr. Wade shared with his church, community, and the nation his illness, the procedures, and he walked Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, where he has pastored almost 40 years, through his season, and it became their season. In the process, it created a stronger bond between Pastor and Church, which is a testament to his transparency in illness.

Dr. Wade is a man of prayer. I remember that before he came to the Presidency of the National Missionary Baptist Convention of America (and he appointed me as his special assistant and webmaster), he was the first one to say to a convention, we’ll rise up early in the morning and seek the face of God. On the national level, he appointed Dr. G. Thomas Turner of Columbus and the room would be standing room only. He made prayer not just a platform but a new paradigm for national conventions – most of whom now have early morning prayer sessions.

He got his spiritual training from his father, the late Dr. J.C. Wade, Sr. and his mother, “Momma Wade.” She is a woman of prayer. I never forget that during the NMBCA, I was also the photographer for the convention and at one of the first sessions of prayer, she called me on the carpet for walking during prayer. When I told her I had approval from Dr. Wade to take photos, she looked at me and said “all right . . . just don’t walk too much reverend.” What a joy it must have been for her, in her mid-90s be present to see her son receive this honor. She has seen him go from baby to child to college graduate to Texas pastor to California pastor, national icon, District Vice Moderator, State Vice President, National President, Delegate to the World Baptist Alliance, and now, inducted into the EKB Preaching Conference Living Legends.

When I found out I had cancer, I put in a call to Dr. Wade. I was scared. I was nervous. And just like I knew he would be – he was cool, calm, collected and after we talked about the procedure, etc., he said, “Houston, let’s pray.” When he prayed he didn’t just pray for healing, but he prayed that this would provide a testimony that only the Lord could give. He’ll never know how comforting his prayer, among many, was to me and my family.

He went to Mount Moriah about the same time that my father in the ministry, Dr. A. Bernard Devers, I, went to New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Portland. They were part of the young guns in the National Baptist Convention of America and Dr. Wade was a fixture at late night and evangelical board services.

When I had resigned my church in San Diego during a very painful divorce, I thought for sure that I would be removed from my post in the National, State, and District works. Dr. Wade didn’t ask me to quit or resign. It was basically, “do your job” and I did. As a result, when I moved to Nashville, I left the west coast as his National Special Assistant, the State Corresponding Secretary, and 3rd Vice Moderator of the Progressive District.

His family – his wife, his children, his grandchildren, his siblings, his parents have been through some much down through the years but his faith has never depleted. In his sermon at Concord during the conference, he related the story of challenges of health, church, and how at each point that would have broken him, that the Lord restored him.

His connections are vast. He is known in the preaching world (and I’ve met some of the nation’s best preachers through Dr. Wade), political world, and in the gospel music world. He’s a fixture at the Gospel Music Workshop of America and Board Member and knows most Christian artists. I met a young Houston school teacher through Dr. Wade, “Houston . . . meet Yolanda Adams . . . she’s major.”  I was part of a panel of Pastors and Musicians at GMWA and he said, “Houston . . . meet Donnie McClurkin.”  I’ve met more preachers and pastors and bishops and denominational leaders and musical artists. He’s one of the influences on me musically because he kept me on my toes and he influenced me to grab the old songs and introduce them to this generation.

True story: I went to the convention in 1990 after the NBCA/NMBCA split and Dr. Wade was on program. He took that old children’s song, “Everybody aught to know who Jesus is,” slowed it down, almost to a meter, and (forgive the linguistics) killed everything big enough to die in the room. I came back to Portland and was in revival and opened with his arrangement of that song and  . . . the Lord was kind.

Perhaps his modeling of pastoral ministry is worth mentioning. When Dr. O.B. Williams went home to be with the Lord, Dr. Wade was present at the service and Dr. Williams’ widow, Willa (Sister O.B.), was heavily mourning her husband at the service, uncontrollaby weeping and wailing. Dr. Wade, walked out of the pulpit, held her hand and would not let her go through the entire service. His presence in that spot spoke volumes and Sis. Williams was comforted.

I will never forget when he was on to preach at the NMBCA I believe it was in Houston or Dallas. Someone stopped by the Finance Office, that I worked in during Dr. Wade’s tenure as General Secretary. He was quietly meditating for the message. The gentleman kept on talking while Dr. Wade was spiritual preparing. He finally said when we told him that Dr. Wade was preaching, “what are you going to preach about?”

Dr. Wade looked up and said “the Lord.”

I think that sums up his preaching ministry over the past fifty years. “Dr. Wade, what are you going to preach about?”

“The Lord.”

 

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED

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Homegoing of a Saint – Dr. W.G. Harvey

IMG9589895323095561PADUCAH, KENTUCKY – Longtime pastor, city commissioner and civil rights leader, the Rev. Dr. W.G. Harvey, has gone home to be with the Lord. He was 88 years old.

Dr. Harvey founded the New Greater Love Missionary Baptist Church and pastored previously the Harrison Street Missionary Baptist Church. He served New Greater Love until his retirement and was honored as the Pastor Emeritus by the congregation.

He held a lifetime membership of the NAACP and was the first African-American elected as City Commissioner.

The home going services have been announced by the family as follows:

Services will be held on Monday, July 14, 2014:

1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. – Family Viewing

3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. – Public Viewing

5:00 p.m. – Masonic Rites

7:00 p.m. – Homegoing Service
New Greater Love Missionary Baptist Church
1249 North 12th Street
Paducah, Kentucky
Rev. LaRita Horton, Pastor

The preferred hotel is:
The Fairfield Inn and Suites
3950 Coleman Crossing Road
Paducah, Kentucky 42001
(270) 442-1700

To fax condolences to the family (via Pettus-Rowland Funeral Home) please send them to (270) 442-0272.

What a Difference a Year Makes

by Robert Earl Houston

DALLAS, TEXAS – I went to Dallas last year on personal family business and came home empty-handed, broken-hearted, and at the end of my rope.  It took months to even discuss it. That was even before I had been diagnosed with cancer and at the same time dealing with the responsibilities of pastoring a thriving church in Frankfort, Kentucky. I was shaken and stirred. I had prayed for success and the end result was humiliation, disrespect and a feeling of anger and resentment I had never experienced before. It made me to make post-life decisions to express my reaction. It made me understand the adage, “Life is too short . . .  “

Fast forward to 2014. I’m in Dallas again, attending the E.K. Bailey Preaching Conference and really, honestly, and truthfully, I don’t think I’ve ever been happier. I’m blessed, foremost, with a clear relationship with Jesus Christ. After watching Him repair my heart over and over and over again after the Dallas Debacle and seeing two of my best friends receive their commencement in Heaven, and going through the ups and downs of ministry – I trust Him more and more. Last night, Dr. E. Dewey Smith talked about the downs of ministry. A year ago, I would have been in tears, this year – no tears, but an appreciation of the repair apparatus of God. My heart has been healed.

Secondly, I have an amazing life in Frankfort. Note of disclosure: Kentucky’s state capitol was the one I could never get correct in school (always thought it was Louisville). My wife and I have been tremendously blessed since our marriage in 2005. We haven’t had five minutes of arguments in nine years that I have listened to (JOKE CREDIT: The late Rev. Dr. E.V. Hill) and we have an extraordinary church family. We live RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO THE CHURCH, but they respect our privacy and we have walked together with our congregation in our highs and our lows. Our lows have been rough but it is in our lows that we discover that our God whom we serve is truly able.

Thirdly, my health is improving. I’m a tad skinnier than I was last year. Getting into some clothing that was headed to the Goodwill because of “lack of additional space.” Since my bout with cancer, I’ve developed an ulcer (open wound) on my foot, which my medical team now says should be completely healed this summer. I started my walking regimen this week in Dallas, wearing diabetic shoes with orthopedic inserts. I’m on a dietary routine . . . well, when I get back home, I’ll get back to it. Dallas food ain’t no joke and some of my favorite restaurants in the US are here – Pappasito’s, Pappadeaux’s, Catfish King, and even Church’s Chicken (hard to find in Kentucky). I’m walking this year without a cane, without a cast, and moving better than in a long, long time.

Fourthly, I’m content. Look, I’m 54 years old – I don’t look like it (thank you to those who invented razors and Michael Jordan who made bald a fashion statement). I’ve had my challenges but God’s been good. I look back over my life and those stormy moments are nothing but history now and now worth repeating. I’m thankful for my beginning years in Portland. I’m grateful for my enjoyable years in Fresno. I’m grateful for the maturing and challenging years in San Diego. I’m grateful for the restorative years in Nashville. And now, I’m thankful for the blessed years. In the words of a pastor I spoke with this week, he said “Houston, it sounds like you are going to heaven from Frankfort.” We shall see. But these are the best times of my life.

At 54, I’m a card carrying member of the “Senior Sages” fraternity of preachers. This year it’s been 37 years since I’ve been called to preach. This year it’s been 36 years since I preached by first sermon at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon. This year it’s been 25 years since I began a series of Pastoral assignments. I’ve been a member in all these years of all four national baptist conventions and the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship. I’ve held convention office from Vice Moderator of a District to Congress Dean to State President to District General Secretary in two districts, President’s Special Assistant of a National Convention, Board Chair of one of the nation’s oldest black newspapers. It’s been quite the ride.

This week, I overheard a couple of ministers as I walked by. The younger one said to the older one “who is that?” He said, “man, THAT’s Robert Houston. You need to read his blog. He’s one of the best.” My friend Dr. E. Dewey Smith, made it a point to tell me, “Houston, you’ve been a blessing to the body of Christ and pastors everywhere.”

I’m in a good place in life. And not ashamed to say, as Dr. Smith, said, that I’m even holistically well – physically, spiritually, and mentally. I know when it’s time to find someone to talk to. Lord knows I’ve had enough to warrant that counsel this past year. I encourage Pastors – make sure it is well with your soul, your strength, and YOUR MIND.

I’m grateful that I did not become a statistic.

YOUR COMMENTS WELCOMED.

The Baton Has Been Passed

by Robert Earl Houston

DALLAS, TEXAS – I am here attending the E.K. Bailey International Expository Preaching Conference (EKB). I haven’t been since the home going of Dr. Bailey several years ago.

My conference career began by going to the Lacy Kirk Williams Ministers Institute sponsored then by Bishop College here in Dallas. It was at that conference that I had the opportunity to meet ministers from across the country in close vantage point and learn a few things along the way. Sadly, Bishop College closed, but several ministers have kept the Institute going, and one year I was invited to be on faculty. Very honored by that.

Then I found out about EKB. He had a Church Growth Conference that I had heard about and then he created the Expository Preaching Conference to share with the nation what the National Congresses could not or would not. While the Congresses were holding pastoral conferences which featured great preachers – but you left there wanting to be a great preacher, but nobody wanted to share what they knew on a broader scale.

Then along came Dr. Bailey. He called in some of his noteworthy friends, mentors, and yes, those he mentored. All of a sudden, you had a venue that taught you how to be a black expository preacher. He and his team taught you how to look at a text, dissect the text, make it palatable and how to serve it with a dash of soul. His conferences literally transformed the nation. You came to hear Dr. Bailey, Dr. Melvin Wade, Dr. Jasper Williams, Dr. Warren Wiersbe, Dr. Timothy Winters, Dr. William Shaw, and other great masters of the pulpit.

The along came three preachers – Drs. R.A. Williams, Jr., George Waddles and the late Larry L. Harris, Sr., who produced another conference that dealt even deeper and became a crash-course on expository preaching using culture, syntax, original languages – it was a dizzying week. I went to that conference (it was closer to me when I lived in San Diego). In that conference it was early morning to late afternoon classes, evening worship and then a series of preaching using the original languages became another facet of black expository preaching.

Fast forward to 2014. Dr. Bailey is gone. God bless the procession of his memory. When you walked into the Fairmont Hotel, they have his sermons streaming on a screen. Before his death, his hand appointed a young man that most of us had never heard of – Bryan Carter, to lead the Conference. Eventually, Dr. Carter would work hand-in-hand to consolidate EKB and her S.T.A.N.D. Women’s Conference, which now meet congruently.

I see very clearly why Dr. Bailey selected Bryan Carter. He’s likable, he’s comfortable in his own skin – he inherited one of the greatest pulpits in Dallas and he seems so down to earth, so friendly. I saw him work the hallway and it reminded me of E.K. – he would walk a few steps, shake hands; walk a few more, shake more hands; We’ve been Facebook and Twitter friends – but this week I had the opportunity to meet him. Matter of fact, we took pictures together (and I was honored that he agreed) with my phone and then he asked one of his assistants to get his phone, “I want to take a picture with Dr. Houston.” Man, I was trying not to blush.

Truth of the matter is that the baton has been passed. Those of us in our mid 50s and higher – we’re now the senior sages of preaching. There is a young group coming after us – led by people like Bryan Carter, E. Dewey Smith, Jr., H.B. Charles, Jr., who are not only keeping alive expository preaching but taking it to levels that are what were not available before in E.K.’s day, but certainly have his fingerprints all over it.

Dr. Carter’s team is impressive: Steven Lawson, Chuck Fuller, Lance Watson, James Allman, Clayborn Lea, Robert Smith, Jr., E. Dewey Smith, Jr., Melvin Wade, Keith Reed, Scott Lindsey, William Curtis, and others. To my remembrance, only Drs. Wade and Smith were there the last time I came to EKB.

The baton has been passed at EKB. The conference (and Concord Church) is in sound hands. By the way – he was the keynote speaker this morning. I sat with one of my contemporaries, Dr. Maurice Bates of California, and we marveled at the depth, stewardship, and preaching of Dr. Carter. Matter of fact, he preached so strongly today that Dr. Bates said “give him the mike” after he sat down very quietly while the congregation was praising God.

I walked up to him and said “there has to be some billy goats in Dallas walking around confused, because you just preached their horns off.”

The new generation is here.

YOUR COMMENTS WELCOMED.

Homegoing of a Saint – Bishop Harold Ivory Williams, Raleigh, NC

RALEIGH, NC – Bishop Harold Ivory Williams went home to be with the Lord on July 4, 2014.  His services have been announced by the Presiding Bishop, Archbishop Alfred A. Owens, Jr. of the Mount Calvary Holy Church of America as follows:

Please keep his wife, Pastor Shirley Caesar-Williams and the Mt. Calvary Raleigh family in your prayers. All services will be held at Mt. Calvary Holy Church Word of Faith, 3100 Sanderford Road, Raleigh, North Carolina 27510, 919.832.1800.  The arrangements are as follows:

Friday, July 11, 2013

Bishop Williams will lie in state from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Local/State Celebration of Life
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
(Civic Attire)

Saturday, July 12, 2013

Viewing – 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

National Homegoing Celebration – 11:00 a.m.
(Choir Dress – Official MCHCA Robes)

This is Bishop Williams’ biography from the Church Web Site:

Bishop Harold I. Williams, Sr., is the Bishop Emeritus of the Mt Calvary Holy Churches of America. Bishop Williams pastured the Winston-Salem MCHCA church for more than 30 years, while serving as Senior Bishop Prelate of the Mt Calvary Holy Churches of America organization. As a disciple of Bishop Brumfield Johnson, Bishop Williams gleaned the essence of Johnson’s heart-similar to Elijah and Elisha. And as adamantly as Elisha refused to leave Elijah, Bishop Williams was faithful to Bishop Johnson until Bishop Johnson’s death on February 15, 1972. And just as with Elijah and Elisha, when Elisha sought a double portion of God’s anointing of his spiritual mentor, Bishop Williams embraced the torch of MCHCA and exponentially grew the church in which Bishop Brumfield Johnson had begun.

 

Bishop Williams founded a MCHCA church in Baltimore, Maryland, while he pastured a MCHCA church in Washington, D.C. as well as the original congregation he inherited from Bishop Johnson in Winston-Salem, NC. By today’s vernacular, one could say that Bishop Williams pastured “one church in three locations”. And he did all of that while holding down his secular job of tuning pianos for the now-defunct Hecht Company. Bishop Williams was as tenacious as his predecessor in seeking the advancement of God’s Kingdom through the MCHCA organization. By God’s leading, Bishop Williams appointed Hansel H. Henry to pastor the MCHCA in Baltimore and then merged with the then-pastor Alfred A Owens, Jr’s church; Christ Is The Answer Chapel with the MCHCA Washington, D.C., church. That is when the Greater Mt. Calvary Holy Church (GMCHC) was born. Bishop Williams’s relationship with these two men could continue to grow and he eventually installed them as 1st and 2nd Vice Bishops respectively- an idea first used by Bishop Brumfield Johnson. Bishop Williams was invited to speak overseas and his protégés were too. As the organization grew with its influx of new churches in search of a shepherd, Bishop Williams divided the global map into territories. Not only did MCHCA have presences in North America, but also its international representation grew in the countries of Barbados, India, Trinidad& Tobago, England and the Bahamas. Bishop Williams filled the need for more oversight of the growing church be elevating Bishops and creating District Overseer positions. Eventually, Bishop Williams named Overseer Daniel Russell as Senior Pastor over his beloved Winston-Salem church, and joined his beloved wife, Pastor Shirley Ann Caesar-Williams as Co-Pastor of the Mt Calvary Word of Faith Church, in Raleigh, NC.

 

Bishop Williams during breakfast one day in August 2008, deemed it time to pass the Baton of leadership of the MCHCA to his successor and the third Senior Bishop in the Mt Calvary Holy Churches of America organization to now Senior Bishop Alfred A. Owens, Jr.

 

Bishop Harold I. Williams, Sr., a true man of God, a great leader, a remarkable teacher, a wonderful husband, a devoted dad, and a black history phenom.

What Happened to Female Musicians in the Church?

by Robert Earl Houston

Let me preface this blog by saying I don’t have conclusive statistics on this issue. I’m just sharing my casual, personal observation:

What happened to the female musicians in the church? As I visit churches and conventions across the nation (baptist), I’ve noticed that men have dominated the black church musician field in sharp contrast to when I started played in the 1970s.

Many churches utilize a band concept that resembles a band of brothers. All wear black to kind of “fade into” the background. There may be a female director, but the band and directors have become predominantly male.

If you visit various black megachurches you will find that to be true. If you watch carefully those who are on TV, the musicians are male. Even the tambourine player is male.

If you go to a Music Workshop, you’ll notice that most of the writers who present are male. Even most workshops are headed by men. 

This is not a discussion about women in ministry. This is a discussion of women in music ministry.

At the church where my faith journey began, Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon,  there were five choirs and only one man involved and that the choir director of the Inspirational Choir. All of the musicians were female.  When I joined New Hope, most of the music ministry leaders were female with a couple of exceptions. The largest church in the city, Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church, had only one male musician in their vast array of musicians and directors. When I first started pastoring, the first musician I had was female (my sister). In the 1990s when I moved to California, my musicians were predominantly female.

In the mid 1990s when I moved south to San Diego, that’s when I noticed a shift was taking place. Most of the churches had employed men as their lead organist. There were no female drummers. And choirs were becoming accustomed to male choir directors.

When I started attending GMWA it was dominated by female musicians initially, but that has changed dramatically. Even the National Baptist Conventions – most of them have now men leading their music ministries.

What does this say?

I think it says that we as a black church need to immediately invest in the music education of young females. After watching the BET Awards, there was an undercurrent that our females should be “on the pole” and “ain’t loyal” and that is farther from the truth. Our African-American males are in trouble across the land, but our young sisters are shying away from the instruments in droves.

I think it also says that there may sexism may play a part in this phenomenon.  Some pastors are stuck in the “let the women be silent in the church” era. Sirs, that era is long gone. Sadly, I know some pastors who have said privately, “I’ll never hire a woman organist – she’ll be a distraction to my members?” That’s crazy talk from a bygone era.

I also think it shows that Music Departments need to redefine their mission. No only should they focus on the Sunday (or weekly) ministry in performance, but they have to identify the young men and young women who have potential (I’m talking 7-10 year olds) and encourage (and in some cases pay for) musical lessons for their children. Studies are stunning – those who have an interest in piano/organ/music have a higher GPA on average.

I’ve encountered tremendous musicians across the country  – Margaret Douroux, Mamie E. Taylor, Lorene Wilder, Gilber Gill, Mrs. O.B. Williams, Virgie Carrington DeWitty, Dorothea Wade, Ruth Sauls, Patrice Turner, Twinkie Clark, Mattie Moss Clark, Willie Faye Inniss, Cheryl Houston, Helen J.H. Stevens, Patriece Reives, Letha Jones” (some who are gone home to be with the Lord. I pray that their collective legacy is not considered “back in the old days” when churches had female musicians.

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED

Breaking News: NBCA, Inc. International Elects Dr. Samuel Tolbert President

tolbertMEMPHIS, TENNESSEE – The National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. International has decided to elect a new president. The Rev. Dr. Samuel Tolbert, from Lake Charles, Louisiana has been formally elected after a period of voting. Dr. Wallace S. Hartsfield, Sr., Chairman stood along with the election commission. The results were released as follows:

Dr. Stephen J. Thurston, Illinois -365 votes
Dr. Samuel Tolbert, Louisiana – 1,290 votes
Dr. George Brooks, Tennessee – 379 votes

Homegoing of a Saint: Rev. William Shackleford, Martinsville, Virginia

The Rev. William Shackleford dies at 66
Was pastor of St. Paul High Street for 27 years, active in area
Click to Enlarge
The Rev. William and Rebecca Shackleford are pictured in February 2013 at a reception honoring their service in the local area before moving to Hampton, where their children live.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

By HOLLY KOZELSKY – Bulletin Staff Writer

The Rev. William Shackleford, former pastor of St. Paul High Street Baptist Church in Martinsville and former Martinsville School Board member, died Wednesday.

 

Shackleford was the pastor of St. Paul High Street Baptist Church for 27 years before he and his wife, Rebecca, moved to Hampton in February 2013. Their two children and two grandchildren live there. 

William Shackleford, 66, had lung cancer for two years, his wife said. That was the reason he retired from St. Paul High Street, she added. 

He died at home, where he had been under hospice care for a week and a half, she said. 

Shackleford was active in this area. He was the Martinsville School Board’s first black chairman. He was a member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Blue Ridge Board and was chairman of its Planning and Programs subcommittee. He was an Advisory Council member of the Good News Jail and Prison Ministries and a past president and current chairman of the board of the Baptist Sunday School and B.T.U. (Baptist Training Union) Congress of Virginia, where he was the president and chairman of the board. He also was past president of the Virginia One Church One Child Minority Adoption Program. 

Rebecca Shackleford said she and her husband had been living with their son while waiting for their house in Martinsville to sell. Her husband had been writing a third book. 

“He hadn’t finished it,” she said. “He had jotted down an outline.” The inspirational book was about “life preparation,” she said, adding that her children may finish the book. 

His first two books are “The Sin That Will Keep Many People Out of Heaven” and “Replacing the Fallen Angels.” 

The Rev. Thurman Echols of Moral Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Axton said Shackleford was “a dear friend and colleague of mine.” Their children grew up together, and the two men “worked in the community together. Our churches fellowshipped together,” he added. 

Shackleford also “was involved with a number of organizations that made an impact on persons who did not even go to church,” such as the school board and Grace Network, Echols said. 

“He made a great impact on the community with his involvement with the children,” Echols said, referring to Shackleford’s work with summer enrichment programs. 

Both men served together on a number of boards. Shackleford was secretary of the Virginia Baptist State Convention, of which Echols is the president. The two attended national Baptist conventions together as well, Echols said. Shackleford also was part of the National Baptist Convention with Foreign Missions, the National Baptists and the Hampton Ministers Conference. Each has been a moderator of the Smith River Missionary Baptist Association. 

Echols said he last saw Shackleford last month at a convention in Williamsburg. 

Zeb Talley, the principal of Patrick Henry Elementary School, said Shackleford was “very much an advocate” for children. 

As a member of the school board, Shackleford “was very concerned about the quality of the teachers selected,” Talley said. 

“He did a lot of things out of (the church) for kids,” Talley added. He welcomed students who were in trouble at school to spend time at the church doing school work. “You don’t get that often. … His church had open arms to a lot of those kids, and for me that’s the ultimate: Giving to some kids who can’t necessarily give back right now.” 

Rebecca Shackleford was “really a good partner. She worked right alongside of him,” Talley added. 

Talley and Shackleford often served together on planning committees for Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations, which were held regularly at St. Paul High Street, Talley added. 

Deacon Harold Campbell said he had known Shackleford since he (Campbell) joined the church in 1989. He was shocked to hear of the former pastor’s death because “he’s always been a rock. Everybody else gets sick, but Rev. Shackleford was always the healthy one.” 

Campbell said he met Shackleford shortly after Campbell lost a son. “He really saved me. I was having a hard time” dealing with the loss, he said. 

There was no limit to the lengths Shackleford would go to for a church member, Campbell said. “If he had a member who was sick, it didn’t matter where they were, he would go visit him.” He went on a few trips with Shackleford to cities as distant as Columbus, Ohio, and Philadelphia to visit former members who had moved away and gotten sick. 

“You could call him any time, day or night, and he was right there on the spot,” Campbell added. 

Shackleford also was an excellent teacher, he said. “He could teach a class, and when you left that class you had a full understanding of everything he was talking about,” Campbell said.

Homegoing of a Saint: Rev. M.A. Byrd, Roselle, New Jersey

ROSELLE, NJ – The Borough of Roselle mourns the loss of another great individual in our community, Rev. M.A.Byrd. Pastor of the Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church located at 1002 Rivington Street, in Roselle.

“When you talk about a leader that impacted a community you think of Rev M. A. Byrd. When you think of a person who remained a role model for all of us, you think of Rev. M. A. Byrd. When you think of a Pastor who guided you through many troubled times, good times and just any time, you think of Rev. M. A. Byrd. Words cannot express how dedicated this man was to my life but to the overall community of Roselle. He made me who I am today and I thank you Rev. M. A. Byrd. I love you! Rest in peace! You will always be my solid rock! Rest easy my leader! I will miss you until we meet again. Let’s all continue to prayer for First Lady Gloria Byrd, the Byrd Family and the Bethlehem Baptist Church family!” (by Mayor Jamel C. Holley)

Posted June 24, 2014

Homegoing of a Saint: Pastor Samuel P. Pettagrue, Jr., Birmingham, AL

From AL.COM

BIRMINGHAM, AL (EDITED) – The Rev. Samuel P. Pettagrue Jr., who was pastor of Sardis Baptist Church in Birmingham from 1971-2006 died on Sunday, June 25, 2014. He was 71.

Sardis Baptist grew from a small congregation to more than 3,000 members while Pettagrue was pastor.

The Birmingham City Council passed a resolution of condolence today. Pettagrue was a civil rights activist in the 1960s and worked closely with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, noted his attorney, Richard Jaffe.

Sam Pettagrue mugshot.jpgThe Rev. Samuel Pettagrue Jr. (File)
Jaffe said he hoped people would remember Pettagrue’s lifelong service to the community.

“He should be seen for the good that he did for so many people, mostly poor and disadvantaged,” Jaffe said. “He really did live a life of service.”

Before coming to Birmingham as pastor of Sardis Baptist Church, Pettagrue was the youth pastor at West Hunter Street Baptist Church in Atlanta. There, he was a key assistant to Abernathy in civil rights activities.

He was the first chapter president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Birmingham, said Yvonne Lowery-Kennedy, daughter of civil rights leader the Rev. Joseph Lowery.

“He’s done so much in this city,” Kennedy said. “There are so many young men he inspired that are now in the ministry.”

THE WIRE

by Pastor Robert Earl Houston

H.B. Charles Jr.

About life, preaching, church, books, and other stuff.

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