Who will replace the legend?

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Imagine that you're the coach that had to replace Red Auerbach, Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, or Joe Torre. Imagine that you are scheduled to perform after Stevie Wonder has just brought the house down.

Imagine that you have to relay preach alongside your Bishop...

In another post, some people (Sis. Jackson), hinted that Pastor Frank M. Reid III was the favorite for replacing my Pastor, the [ahem] preacher, teacher, friend to the community and world at large, my mentor, friend, and father in the ministry, the Rev. Dr. Cecil L. "Chip" Murray (no, I am not trying to get on the preaching schedule).

We here at First Church have heard nothing. I think there is more excitement about the incoming pastor (ASSUMING A RETIREMENT <--Hint Hint), than who the Lakers are going to pick for next year's squad.

So....protocol having been established:

Who do you think would be qualified from the preaching, administrative, and community involvement aspects to take First Church to the next level? In today's lingo, "Who's got da juice?"

I have heard the following names dropped in various circles (in no particular order):

-- Anonymous, June 25, 2004


The five megachurches are among the most chalenging assignmeents to fill. Yet somehow, tghe bishops seem to find the Godly judgment to get it done right.

Nevertheless, other names to "consider":

-- Anonymous, June 25, 2004

Now Rev. Harper, I did not say that Dr. Reid was the "favorite" for replacing your pastor at 1st AME Church. I just "heard" through the "grapevine" (I know---the grapevine scenario is quite childish) that since Dr. Reid successfully pastored in the 5th district, returning to the 5th district via 1st AME Church "...would be a logical progression..." (I am quoting the "grapevine"). Having said that, I really cannot say who in our connection would make a good replacement for your pastor. However, the person probably needs to be an awesome preacher with a clean record, someone with a good reputation, someone who is plain spoken, steeped in The Word and, most importantly, a community-conscious servant of the people. And, from what I "hear", they must love good Gospel and choral music. So whoever fits that description, that person would be qualified for that appointment. Rev. Murray reminds me of Chicago's Rev. Clay Evans of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church. Upon his retirement (well, Rev. Evans still hasn't really retired) Rev. Evans hand-picked his replacement. I think Rev. Murray should do the same thing (SMILE). God bless.

-- Anonymous, June 26, 2004

One more thing. Rev. Murray is also "open and affirming" of all people, so that new pastor should also be open minded and open to people of all walks of life. Or, am I on the wrong track, Rev. Harper?

-- Anonymous, June 26, 2004

The Rev. Sylvestor Beaman of Bethel Wilmington in Delaware is a great choice as well.I would think Rev.Dr. Frank M Reid would be a good choice.

-- Anonymous, June 26, 2004

I hope Rev. Clay Evans picked fellow Chicagoan, the incomparable Donald Parsons as his successor. Back in the early 80s great African American preaching was defined by Parsons, John Bryant, Jr. of Baltimore, MD, Jasper Williams out of Atlanta, Ceasar Clark of Dallas, TX, Otis Moss of Cleveland, OH, Nelson Smith of Birmingham, AL and A. Louis Patterson of Houston, TX. All of these preachers were influenced by Rev. C.L. Franklin. I'll go out on a limb and say that Franklin's sermon "The Eagle Stirs Her Nest" is perhaps the most influential sermon in the history of black homiletics. The next time I see Cain Hope Felder I'm going to pose this question to him. One could listen to these sermons and not be concerned about the time or length of service. Man, those were the days, albeit nostalgic. QED

-- Anonymous, June 26, 2004

Bill, Bill, Bill... How could you ever leave Dr. gardner C. taylor off a list that has Caesar A.W. Clark on it?

Some would also add Sandy Ray....

-- Anonymous, June 26, 2004

My cerebral and multi-talented friend -

I have had the pleasure of being in the company and listening to sermons by Gardner C. Taylor (I attended his retirement program in Brooklyn in 1991), Wyatt T. Walker and the late, Samuel Dewitt Proctor. I was blessed to take a course at Wake Forest Divinity School taught by James Forbes who at that time was a Pentecostal pastor & theologian prior to assuming the pulpit at Riverside Church. These men are for sure iconic figures in black homiletics. They are erudite and provocative thinkers. My former pastor at Bethel AME of Tallahassee, FL, Bishop Richardson is a great admirer of Sam Proctor (like myslef) and H. Beccher Hicks (Hicks & F.M Reid are clsoe friends) out of Metropolitan Baptist of Washington, DC. I just don't consider them to be great revivalist preachers in the C.L. Franklin tradition. I understand Dr. Taylor is considered the Dean of Preachers in the US and his three dozen plus honorary degrees at some of the best universities is a testimony to his pulpit prowess. But, when I go to church and I want my soul edified and electrified, (ergo, I want to shout!!!) with the uncompromising Word of God, Parson-Patterson were in rare company. Charles "The Harvard Hooper" Adams out of Detroit, MI gets an honorable mention as well :-) QED

-- Anonymous, June 26, 2004

Not to get off on a totally non-AME conversation, but Brother Bill Rev. Evans did not pick Parsons as his successor. Parsons is still pastoring in Chicago, but not at Mt. Calvary. He picked a dynamic young, 25 year old preacher as his successor, Rev. Charles Jenkins (who is also close to Rev. Jamal Bryant, who often preaches at Fellowship a few times a year). However, the people of Fellowship haven't been willing to let Rev. Evans retire. So now you have Rev. Charles Jenkins, pastor; Rev. Clay Evans, Founder and Overseer. Bill, I am glad you mentioned some of the non-AME "greats" in African American preaching--Hicks, the late Rev. Proctor. He is sorely missed. Forbes is enjoyable but a tad bit cerebral for my taste; however, the "Harvard Hooper", Rev. Adams, is cerebral as well, but I could listen to him all day. He makes you want to rejoin the church everytime he preaches. God bless.

-- Anonymous, June 27, 2004

Mahalia Jackson once sang, “When it looked like the sun wouldn’t shine anymore, God put a rainbow in he sky.” Recent pastoral changes at my own church have borne out the truth of it.

I, like countless others, am appreciative and have a deep respect for the Herculean task which Dr. "Chip" Murray has done. But we are first and foremost an itinerant church—a fact that we sometimes seem to forget.

The bright side of retirement is that it is better to retire while other yet remember the great things we have done than to have overstayed our welcome and usefulness so that few even remember or care.

I would not at this point and time attempt to make a conjecture as to who Dr. Murray’s replacement should be. Finding a suitable replacement for pastors is nothing new to the bishops in our church but I am confident that it rests not solely in the hands of our bishops but rather rests with God. God replaced Moses, Joshua, David and countless other who succeeded them.

For those of us who completely trust in God, God always has a proverbial “ram in the bush” and God never forgets his promise to put a rainbow in the sky.

-- Anonymous, June 27, 2004

Gee, Bill. It's nice to see H. Beecher Hicks on the list.

"I knew him when" he was simply Henry Hicks, Jr. in high school; H. Beecher Hicks was his esteemed (now late) father, pastor of the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church here in Columbus. His father continued to preach and serve in the community long after his retirement. He was one of those "quiet Baptists", but always delivering good wisdom with his messages and was not one to play on the emotions of the moment.

Henry Jr. is a chip off the old block; though his style is a bit different.

-- Anonymous, June 28, 2004

I would say that Dr. Robinson at St. Andrew in Memphis is off the list. He will be assigned a church in Nashville. His profession as a state employee will lead him to Nashville. He will be assigned to a church that will allow him to promote the AME church, black wellness and economics on a state level while maintaining his assignment as a head pastor.

-- Anonymous, June 28, 2004

Carolyn, you are right, his role as COmmisssionaer would probably keep him in Tennessee. I merely thought he had the tools to carry on in like fashion. :-).

I wasn't aware that he was under consideration for relocation back to Nashville, though. Didn't he serve at Payne Chapel prior to St. Andrew? Would he be going back there?

-- Anonymous, June 28, 2004


The name I hear most frequently is Dr. Hunter's (1st, Seattle, which is the charge that Dr. Murray kept before going to FAME).

Supposedly, whatever issues that prevent Dr. Reid from pursuing the Episcopacy will also keep him from going back to the 5th District (the most credulous rumor I heard was that he wants to build a new cathedral, which is hard to do in a new charge). Since he's already at a "great and historic" church, the allure of going to another one isn't as strong.

Rev. Bryant has done a mighty work where he is and I'm not certain that he'll want to leave until he feels like he's done all that he can do there. As the founding Pastor, he'll be given a lot of leeway to do so.

Dr. Murph's name comes up frequently. Assuming that he does not get elected to the Episcopacy, I would wonder what he would accomplish at FAME that he could not accomplish at Brookins? The attendance numbers at each are probably very similar. Of course, FAME has a bigger physical plant and more visibility in the community, so it would be considered an upgrade.

Dr. Thomas has family connections at FAME and is a former Youth Pastor there, so he is a sentimental favorite. He also has experience as a "lead Pastor," which will be a factor.

Of course, I'm certain that Chip's replacement (unless it is one of the potential Bishops) has already been informally notified and (assuming Bishop Bryant returns to the 5th) the people in his cabinet know and will keep quiet until he releases the information.

-- Anonymous, July 02, 2004

I inadvertently left Rev. Alvin Smith off of my analysis, but his ties to the congregation at FAME are among the strongest. Having his wife as co-Pastor/very visible 1st Lady would also be a brilliant move for FAME. Illness has reduced the visibility of Mrs. Murray and congregations (in my VERY humble opinion) need to remember their Pastors as family persons, as well.

-- Anonymous, July 02, 2004

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