Monthly Archives: April, 2013


by Robert Earl Houston

What a week it’s been.

This time last week, I was in the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico (ABQ) for their 3rd Annual City-Wide Simultaneous Revival. I’ve been blessed to be a part of this unique fellowship of preachers and churches for the past two consecutive years as the evangelist for my son in the faith’s church, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Rev. Dennis Hubbard, Pastor.  Pastor Hubbard was one of my loyal associate ministers at New Hope Friendship Baptist Church and has gone on to be on the widely known pastors in New Mexico. I licensed him 17 years ago.

Shiloh Baptist Church, Albuquerque, NM

Shiloh Baptist Church, Albuquerque, NM

Macedonia Baptist Church, Albuquerque, NM

Macedonia Baptist Church, Albuquerque, NM

Bethlehem Baptist Church, Albuquerque, NM

Bethlehem Baptist Church, Albuquerque, NM

Antioch Baptist Church, Albuquerque, NM

Antioch Baptist Church, Albuquerque, NM

It’s a unique fellowship sponsored by primarily four churches (other churches support or help in a great way) – Bethlehem Baptist Church, Rev. Hubbard, Pastor; Shiloh Baptist Church, Rev. W.H. Benford, II, Pastor; Antioch Baptist Church, Rev. David Walker, Pastor; and Macedonia Baptist Church, Rev. N.D. Smith, Pastor;  The evangelists for the week (respectively) were myself; Pastor Johnny Smith of Arkansas;  Pastor Denny D. Davis of Texas; and Pastor Victor L. Wilson of North Carolina.

The Noon Day Service was a joint service held at Shiloh and the line up was Pastor Johnny Smith (Wednesday); Pastor Victor L. Wilson (Thursday); and Pastor Denny D. Davis (Friday).  The Revival concluded on Friday with a late-night (10 p.m.) service and I had the honor this year of closing the Revival.

It was a rich, rich fellowship and I’m pleased to have been a part of it for the past two years and looking forward to returning in 2014.

What impressed me most was how these pastors not only work together with each other but how they enjoy the social fellowship. Going out to lunch and dinner was a joy – to hear them share their joys, their sorrows, their struggles and of course, some good natured kidding. It reminded me of fellowships of years gone by in Portland, Oregon and I salute them for their fellowship.

Then it was back home briefly and then on to Lexington, Kentucky (LEX) to share as the Women’s Day at the invitation of Dr. Thomas H. Peoples, Jr. and the Historic Pleasant Green Baptist Church.

Historic Pleasant Green is the fourth oldest African-American church in the nation, having been founded in 1790 under the leadership of their pastor, a slave called Brother Captain. Originally called “African Baptist Church” this church has been the birthplace spiritually of civic leaders, educators, politicians and birthed national leaders, including a Progressive National Baptist Convention President, Congress President, and State presidents and Local moderators. With a congregation of 1,700 plus strong, anchoring a neighborhood which includes the University of Kentucky, Rupp Arena and the Convention Center – HPG has continued to serve generations.

Dr. Thomas H. Peoples, Jr. speaking at Historic Pleasant Green.

Dr. Thomas H. Peoples, Jr. speaking at Historic Pleasant Green.

With his wife, Dr. Delma Peoples firmly giving direction as the Minister of Music, the service was literally praying, shouting, rejoicing, and worshipping for three straight hours! I was impressed by the worship – and yes, shed some tears at the poignant places of worship.  Such a fervant worship! Such a heartfelt worship! It ranks in the top ten of worship experiences I have known.

You can view the sermon, “Loosed, But Tethered” online and it will be on the local Lexington Cable television station this week.

Dr. Peoples gave me an autographed copy of his book, “History of a Saga” which covers the historical narrative of HPG and I gave he and his wife copies of my book, “See You in the Morning.”

Then it was back to Frankfort (FTT).

On Monday, it was time to return to my pulpit for the Homegoing Celebration of Sis. H. Maxine Parrish, who went home to be with the Lord while I was in Albuquerque.

Obit Hallie Parrish.jpgSis. H.  Maxine Parrish or “Miss Maxine” as many knew her, was a gospel singer who hailed from the loins of First Baptist Church. She loved gospel music, had a large DVD and CD collection, sang with a local community choir, great supporter of FBC’s Vacation Bible School and Sunday School, a community mentor, and the list goes on.

She lived safe and secure in the arms of the Lord. So safe that she didn’t believe in locking her doors and windows in her home – she believed that the Lord would (and He did!) take care of her.

She had a memorable homegoing service! There were tears, laughter, fond remembrances, and great singing by the soloists. The Lord was kind to the preaching moment and God be praised, two young men, who were pallbearers, came forward to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and for baptism!

It was a great, great week!

Sermon: Loosed, But Tethered

Sermon by Pastor Robert Earl Houston, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Frankfort, Ky, preached at Historic Pleasant Green Baptist Church, Lexington, KY, Dr. Thomas H. Peoples, Jr. for their Women’s Day, Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 10:30 a.m.

Homegoing of a Saint: Rev. Gilbert G. Campbell, Sr., Richmond, VA

Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch

A funeral for the Rev. Gilbert Godfrey Campbell Sr., pastor emeritus at Moore Street Missionary Baptist Church in Richmond, will be at noon Saturday, today, at that church, 1408 W. Leigh St. Burial will be in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Mr. Campbell, a 93-year-old Richmonder who led the church from 1964 until he retired in 1994, died at home Sunday.

He served as dean of Virginia Theological Seminary and College in Lynchburg from 1945 to 1949 and then taught and served as a principal in the Chesapeake school system from 1950 to 1964.

Mr. Campbell was university pastor at Virginia Union University from 1973 to 1994.

While he worked as a teacher and principal, he also was a pastor.

He served at First Church in Cape Charles; Grove Church in Portsmouth, where he led the congregation to construct a new building after fire destroyed the original; Gethsemane Church in Suffolk; First Church in the Rushmere area of Suffolk, which built a new church building while he was there; and Moore Street Church, where major renovations were done.

After retirement, he served as an interim pastor at Cedar Grove and Gillfield churches in Charles City, Shady Grove Church in Goochland and First Church in Petersburg.

One of five surviving children of a Baptist minister’s family, he was born in Plainfield, N.J., and educated in Plainfield, Washington and Norfolk schools.

He played basketball during high school and college and was a member of the Zeta Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

He was a 1941 graduate of VUU, where he also earned a Master of Divinity degree in 1944. He did graduate work at Drew University, the College of William and Mary, the Boston University School of Religion and the University of Virginia.

Mr. Campbell had sat on the VUU board. His alma mater bestowed an honorary doctorate in 1967.

He was a former president and board member of the Baptist General Convention of Virginia and a former board member of the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention, which helps churches extend their Christian witness.

He had been a founder and board member of the Richmond OIC, which helps disadvantaged people, and a board member of the Capital Area Agency on Aging.

Mr. Campbell was a local convenor in Virginia for the Progressive National Baptist Convention. He also was a pioneer in organizing the American Baptist Churches of the South and its Area II, which covers Virginia.

He loved traveling with friends and family, playing golf and following VUU teams, especially at the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament, as long as his health allowed.

He was the widower of Bertha Vernice Morgan Campbell, whom he met while she was an undergraduate at VUU. They had been married 60 years when she died June 3, 2006.

Survivors include a daughter, Rosalind Taylor of Richmond; a son, the Rev. Gilbert G. Campbell Jr. of West Palm Beach, Fla.; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.



by Pastor Robert Earl Houston

Last Sunday I celebrated two milestones – one in past tense and one in future tense;  Four years as the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Frankfort, Kentucky and 35 years in ministry, marked by April 30, 1978, when I stood before a packed house at the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon.

Just as much occurs when you read a funeral obituary and you see the date of birth (dash) date of death.  But we really don’t know all that happens between the dashes. In the words of several preachers, “you see my glory, but you don’t know my story.”

So, allow me to share three things that have been instrumental to me over the past 35 years as a Christian minister and 4 years as pastor of this church (and 24 years of pastoral ministry):

1.  I’ve Learned That I’m Not In Control

If anyone had told me that on the night of my first sermon that I would leave my beloved hometown of Portland, go to Fresno for four years, then onto San Diego for ten years, then onto Nashville for four years, and then land in Frankfort, Kentucky – I would have said they were crazy.

But the truth of the matter is that the minister of the Lord, if He indeed belongs to the Lord, has no control of his lot in life. I know ministers who are eons smarter than I that have never been called to a church. I know ministers who are greater pedigreed than I that aren’t on anyone’s radar. I know ministers who attempt to make a name for themselves over and over again to be banished to the silence of the sideline. Since God is the one who called us to ministry, He knows the purpose of our call.

I loved Portland (and still do);  Going to Fresno was an adventure (first time away from home); Going to San Diego was turbulent but it taught me to trust God only;  Going to Nashville was therapeutic for me personally – God took me through those four locations to prepare me to pastor the First Baptist Church in Frankfort.

2.  Choose Your Friends Wisely

I never could understand the logic of trying to become a better preacher by hanging around bitter preachers. Young preacher, if you want your ministry to soar, you’re going to have to develop an eagle’s mentality about ministry. As you apprentice under the watchful eye of your pastor, you got to be careful who you hang out with in the fundamental and formational years of your ministry.

As a young associate minister I had a list of preachers I didn’t want to hang out with:

a.  Never hang out with bitter or angry preachers.
b.  Never hang out with ministers who fight or engage their own pastor.
c.  Never hang out with a preacher who has no goals, dreams or desires.
d.  Never hang out with a preacher who is constantly using someone else’s material.
e.  Never hang out with a preacher who shoots down others and never has self-criticism.

This not only applies to associate ministry, but as I became older, those rules hold for those in pastoral ministry as well.

3.  God is Forgiving

This is not exclusive to moral failures. God is forgiving of the sermons that we craft together and come to the pulpit with great bravado only to watch the sermon crash and burn.  Then God has the audacity to touch somebody’s heart during the sermon and say to you, “Pastor you helped me today.”  God is forgiving!

Even when I haven’t had 40 hours to craft a sermon.
Even when I haven’t had the opportunity to spread all of my books on the table.
Even when I haven’t committed 48 hours to prayer on a sermon.

He looks beyond my frailties and provides preaching power in spite of week that I’ve had. Whether it was sinful or holy, tempted or victorious, healthy or sick – the Lord erases all of that in order that the flock may be filled. Thank God for forgiveness.

And so, it’s on the the 5th year of pastoring this church, the 25th year of pastoral ministries, and the 36th year of preaching.

I welcome your comments and dialogue below.

Homegoing of a Saint: Prophet/Bishop Robert Charles Blakes, Sr.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – Homegoing services are pending for the Bishop Robert Charles Blakes, Sr., who has gone home to be with the Lord on Thursday, April 11, 2013. He was 74.

Bishop Blakes’s biography is below (gleaned from his web site

Pastor and General Overseer Bishop Robert Charles Blakes, Sr. of the New Home Full Gospel Ministries in New Orleans, Louisiana; His lovely wife, Minister Lois R. Blakers, and their two sons, Robert, Jr. and Samuel Blakes, work hand-in-hand with him in the ministry of the Lord.

Prophet Blakes boldly pioneered the movement of African American ministries in 1979 into televangelism in the city of New Orleans, when he began broadcasting on local channel 26.  In 1984, he began airing nationally on BET Broadcasting Network.

On July 16, 1992, he was instrumental in organizing the Full Gospel Baptist Association, presently known as the “Free Spirit Interdenominational Fellowship.”  A total of 15 pastors and ministers joined him in the fulfillment of this great vision.

On August 6, 1993, his vision expanded to purchase KKNO 750 AM Radio Station, the only locally owned African American Christian radio station in New Orleans.

On August 27, 1993, Prophet Blakes accepted God’s call to the office of Bishop under the authority of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship. Through his leadership, nine church ministries, comprised of over 15,000 members, developed throughout the cities of Houston, New Orleans, Hammond, LaPlace and Slidell, with a tenth location preparing to launch in North Baton Rouge. This location will host the new headquarters for the Robert C. Blakes, Sr. Medica Ministry, originally formed in 1995 to promote the vision of the Prophet through various media sources.

In October of 1994, he established the Free Spirit Christian Bookstore in New Orleans to serve the congregation and ministry needs.

On January 3, 1999, Prophet Blakes, who authored many life-changing books, particularly in the areas of healing, deliverance and the operation of God’s anointing, established the Robert C. Blakes, Sr. Bible College and Theological Seminary.  The school officially opened October 11, 1999 with an active and growing student enrollment.

On February 24, 2000 Upscale Magazine paid tribute to Bishop Blakes, naming him one of the nation’s most prominent black ministers and spiritual leaders.

The Gary Simultaneous Revival

by Robert Earl Houston

GARY, INDIANA – For the third consecutive year, I’ve had the privilege of sharing in the Gary Simultaneous Revival. For those who are not aware of it, it is one of the few cities in the nation that run a successful Simultaneous Revival.

The pastors and churches come together for breakfast at 7:00 a.m. Then worship begins at 8:00 a.m. (locations rotate from year to year).  The noon-day worship begins obviously at 12:00 p.m. Then the churches break off into their individual worship services that evening. Lately, there have been attempts to start a late night service for “church-a-holics” who may have to work during church hours.

I am here at the invitation of Pastor Marlon C. Mack and the Sweet Home Baptist Church. Pastor Mack is also the General Secretary of the host Baptist Ministers Union of Gary and Vicinity. It is one of the places I really enjoy preaching at throughout the year and his people are very attentive and appreciative for the word. They have one of the up and coming ministers in Gary in Pastor Mack. God bless his ministry there!

For the second consecutive year, I’ve been honored to preach the breakfast session. I’ve be standing on Thursday morning, a day after my friend, Pastor Terry Brooks of Bayview Baptist Church, San Diego will be preaching on Wednesday.

Gary is a dually aligned city – many of the pastors are either PNBC or NBCUSA churches and some of them are dually aligned (members of both conventions). Despite the economic fallout that this area has experienced since the 1960s, this is still a “CHURCH-TOWN” and the church is the vital heartbeat to this city and the survival of its people. Gary is a city of beautiful church buildings and facilities.

I’ve preached for several churches here and was actually called to one church here years ago (I turned it down). But I have great ties with the Pastors and Churches of Gary.

Evangelists include Dr. Jeffrey Johnson, Dr. Elliott Cuff, Dr. Leroy Elliott, Dr. Steve Bland, Jr., and other outstanding pastors from throughout the nation. For preachers, this is a great week to take off and just be preached at. That’s what happened to me today, Dr. Bland preached (my, my, my) and it helped ME today.

Ten Things Pastors Wish They Knew Before They Became Pastors

I found this on the web . . . interesting read:

Ten Things Pastors Wish They Knew Before They Became Pastors.

In an informal survey of pastors, I asked a simple question:

What do you wish you had been told before you became a pastor?

Some of the responses were obvious. For me, a few were surprises.

I note them in order of frequency of response, not necessarily in order of importance. After each item, I offer a representative quote from a pastor.

  1. I wish someone had taught me basic leadership skills. “I was well grounded in theology and Bible exegesis, but seminary did not prepare me for the real world of real people. It would have been great to have someone walk alongside me before my first church.”
  2. I needed to know a lot more about personal financial issues. “No one ever told me about minister’s housing, social security, automobile reimbursement, and the difference between a package and a salary. I got burned in my first church.”
  3. I wish I had been given advice on how to deal with power groups and power people in the church. “I got it all wrong in my first two churches. I was fired outright from the first one and pressured out in the second one. Someone finally and courageously pointed out how I was messing things up almost from the moment I began in a new church. I am so thankful that I am in the ninth year of a happy pastorate in my third church.”
  4. Don’t give up your time in prayer and the Word. “I really don’t ever remember anyone pointing me in that direction. The busier I became at the church, the more I neglected my primary calling. It was a subtle process; I wish I had been forewarned.”
  5. I wish someone had told me I needed some business training. “I felt inadequate and embarrassed in the first budget meetings. And it really hit home when we looked at a building program that involved fund raising and debt. I had no clue what the bankers were saying.”
  6. Someone should have told me that there are mean people in the church. “Look, I was prepared to deal with critics. That’s the reality of any leadership position. But I never expected a few of the members to be so mean and cruel. One church member wrote something really cruel on my Facebook wall. Both my wife and children cried when they read it.”
  7. Show me how to help my kids grow up like normal kids. “I really worry about the glass house syndrome with my wife and kids. I’m particularly worried that my children will see so much of the negative that they will grow up hating the church. I’ve seen it happen too many times.”
  8. I wish I had been told to continue to date my wife. “I was diligent in dating my wife before I became a pastor. I then got so busy helping others with their needs that I neglected her. I almost lost my marriage. She felt so alone as I tried to meet everyone’s needs but hers.”
  9. Someone needed to tell me about the expectation of being omnipresent. “I had no idea that people would expect me to be at so many meetings, so many church socials, and so many sports and civic functions. It is impossible to meet all those expectations, so I left some folks disappointed or mad.”
  10. I really needed help knowing how to minister to dying people. “Some of those who have terminal illnesses have such a strong faith that they minister to me. But many of them are scared and have questions I never anticipated. I was totally unprepared for these pastoral care issues when I first became a pastor.”

How do you respond to this list? What would you add?

Pastor to Pastor is the Saturday blog series at Pastors and staff, if we can help in any way, contact Steve Drake, our director of pastoral relations, at We also welcome contacts from laypersons in churches asking questions about pastors, churches, or the pastor search process.

Us’s Only . . .

preacher-black-and-white-silhouetteby Robert Earl Houston

Recently I have been embroiled in a controversy not of my own making. A denominational leader called me out for bringing in guest preachers for our Good Friday Service. I was basically told that I was wrong for bringing in non-baptist preachers and fellowshipping with non-baptists, and that I should have “stuck with the script” and used Kentucky baptist preachers only.

I was floored.
I was angry.
I was grieved.
I was angry.
I was annoyed.
I was angry.

I was raised in ministry by Dr. A. Bernard Devers, who is now in Heaven, and he trained us, taught us, and primarily he taught us of the autonomy that we have in the Baptist Church. His father in the ministry (who I claim as my grandfather in the ministry), the late Dr. C.E. Williams, was chairman of the Ministers Conference for the General Baptist Convention of the Northwest and he regularly hammered into our head “Conventions don’t make churches; Churches make conventions.” In other words, what I heard in 2013 greatly differs from what I was taught in 1978.

I invite in who the Holy Spirit tells me to – PERIOD.

I have always enjoyed fellowship with other Christian Denominations. I admire the A.M.E.’s for their dedication to Christian Education.  I admire the COGICs for their tenacity of praise and worship.  I admire the United Methodists for their reverence of worship. And yes, I am baptist born, baptist bred, and when I did baptist dead – BUT, I was a believer before I became a Baptist. I am Baptist by choice. However, I am not confined to the baptist way of doing things and frankly, there are some flaws in our baptist polity that some of us have chosen to ignore rather than enforce.

There is no “baptist way” of worship. Matter of fact, there is no printed order of worship throughout the Bible. The early church didn’t have an order of worship with “Baptist” written across it. Stunningly, someone sent me an email and suggested that the Baptist Church was what Jesus instituted when He called the twelve. If that’s the case, there’s a Judas in every camp.

There’s nothing wrong with being proud to be Baptist – but there’s some wrong when that pride turns to exclusivity. It’s akin to going to Waffle House every morning for breakfast and passing by 100 other restaurants and saying, “Waffle House” is the only folk that makes real breakfast. It’s a narrow interpretation of scriptures that do not exist.

Some good has come of this. On Facebook, I started a “KENTUCKY PASTORS AND PREACHERS & FRIENDS” page that has caught fire – over 100 pastors and preachers, tired of the non-biblical tradition of separatism, have latched on. I’m not using that platform to start a convention nor association (that’s what they call what most of the country calls state conventions here). However, I am interested in fellowship with those who I will eventually re-unite again with in heaven.

Somebody has to make a stand against this mantra of “us’s only.”

Homegoing of a Saint: Broderick Huggins, Jr. (son of Bishop Broderick Huggins, Sr.)

I’m very saddened to announce the homegoing of Broderick Huggins, Jr., son of Bishop Broderick Huggins, Sr., pastor of the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, who went home to be with the Lord on Sunday, March 31, 2013.

The family has announced that the homegoing service will be Friday, April 12, 2013 beginning at 11:00 a.m. at the St. Paul Church, 1776 Statham Boulevard, Oxnard, California 93030. Bishop Huggins will be officiating.

Let us keep the Huggins family in your prayers.


by Pastor Robert Earl Houston

H.B. Charles Jr.

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