October is Clergy Appreciation Month and please permit me a few minutes to express my appreciation for the Pastors that have been so instrumental in my personal life.
Reverend Sylvester McCullumn (pictured left) was the founder and pastor of the Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church of Portland, Oregon. He was among many who migrated from the south to Oregon during World War 2 and was a leader of the Longshoremen’s Union for many, many years. Under his leadership, Morning Star grew from a handful to a very strong congregation and at one amassed property on the corner of Rodney and Ivy that today would have been worth well over $5 million dollars. He baptized me in 1972 and this was my childhood church home. I learned how to work in the church from Pastor McCullumn. He is now in Heaven.
Reverend Dr. Arthur Bernard Devers, I (pictured right) was the pastor of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Portland. I was among those who flocked to New Hope in the 1970s as the young pastor from Seattle began his ministry there. Rev. Devers was not only a pastor but a trainer of preachers (which I’ve tried to emulate for years). He weathered some brutal storms and went on to pastor churches in Seattle and San Antonio. He was my preaching and pastoral template. He befriended a young, scared 17 year old teenager and by the grace of the Lord, turned him into a preacher. He is now in Heaven.
Reverend Dr. Johnny Pack, IV(pictured left) succeeded Rev. Devers at New Hope for several years. After the church and pastor separated, I followed him and assisted him in the birthing of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, which is today one of Portland’s strongest churches and he is now one of (if not the) longest tenured Baptist pastor in the city. Rev. Pack gave me unusual opportunities to work and as his Administrative Assistant, I tried my best to make sure that he was briefed and prepared as much as possible. He still pastors Fellowship today after 25 years.
Reverend Dr. Carl J. Anderson (pictured right) became my pastor when I moved from Oregon to California. Dr. Anderson was a preaching and pastoral legend in the city of Oakland and had a highly rated radio broadcast for years. I can still hear him, while the choir sings “It’s Time to Go to the Altar and Pray,” reading the names of those who called the church and requested prayer. Dr. Anderson was not only kind to me but protective of me. He rose up and saved me denominationally when I had disagreements with leadership and I’ll never forget his words, “that’s my son.” I preached at St. John Missionary Baptist Church on several occasions and I enjoyed just talking to Doc. He is now in Heaven.
Bishop Darryl S. Brister (pictured left) became my pastor in a very unusual way following the death of Pastor Anderson. I was in New Orleans visiting family and my plane left late on a Sunday afternoon and I had time to kill and I was led by the Spirit to check out Beacon Light International Baptist Cathedral – a church and a pastor I had never heard of. My heart was overwhelmed by the worship and the excellence of the service, not to mention they were running three services with 3,500 at each worship. I wrote him an email, he answered me back, invited me to preach and I subsequently joined. Bishop Brister has a deep love and desire for relationship with his preachers. Beacon Light has now become one church in 10 locations across the south and serving as a son was an experience I’ll never forget.
Reverend Dr. Clyde Elliott Gaines (pictured right) became my pastor after I left a congregation in San Diego. Seasoned, opinionated and strong in his principles, he has pastored Greater Trinity Missionary Baptist Church for over 30 years. When I was weathering a storm, he was great counsel. When I united with the church, he immediately put me on music staff as a musician, even though I was traveling around the country. I will always remember his kindness and when he completed his tenure as President of the California Missionary Baptist State Convention in Bakersfield in 2011, I had to be there just to say ‘thank you” in person.. He still pastors Greater Trinity.
Minister Barton Elliott Harris (pictured left) is my pastor today. I preached a Men’s Revival at Westwood Baptist Church, University Center, Nashville, TN in 2005 and subsequently Pastor Harris invited me to serve as his Assistant Pastor. There are few pastors like Pastor Harris. College and seminary trained, but with a common touch and a heart for people and ministry. I watched him handle things at the Church, watched him make difficult and reverberating decisions, and watched him constantly trying to get Westwood to the next level. He will soon become the longest serving pastor in the history of Westwood – which is even more significant being that he was baptized, licensed, married, and ordained all at Westwood.
I thank God for each of you and all that you have contributed to my ministry!