Pastor Profile: Pastor William Turner Jr.
Church: New Revelation Missionary Baptist Chruch
How Long: 50 years
Hometown: Shreveport, Louisiana
Family: Married to Wilma Louise Turner for 58 years and father of three
You’re celebrating 50 years as pastor—what has been your vision?
When the Lord called me to pastor, He gave me a vision of building a church, a school, housing for senior citizens and a gymnasium. I built the gym when it was not popular for black churches to have a gymnasium. With the exception of housing for senior citizens, the visions have been completed. All I want to do now is preach the gospel as long as I live and find my replacement.
Did you grow up in church?
I grew up in church. I was baptized at the age of 12. I attended Sunday School and was in prayer meeting every night, even as a pre-teen. I was called to preach in 1963. The Lord directed me into the Chevy Chase Mountains and there I got the vision from the Lord to preach the gospel to Pasadena. I was ordained a deacon in 1961, licensed to preach in 1963, ordained in 1964 and installed as a pastor in 1967—all at the same church.
What were you doing before you were called?
I organized a building maintenance service in 1963—the same year I was called to preach. During the next four years, I built my business to seven full-time employees. I had a contract with pantries and a supermarket chain. I was just born with an entrepreneurial spirit so the business grew miraculously. The night I was called to preach, I’d just come back from a meeting with Wells Fargo representative. They awarded me the contract for the region, including California, Nevada, Arizona, and Denver, but I was called to pastor that Saturday night. I called the regional director and said I couldn't accept the contract and gave the business to my brother. I gave up a lucrative income to accept the calling that was upon my life.
How would you characterize yourself as a preacher?
I’m a biblical preacher—Bible all the way.
What do you think of how preaching has evolved?
Well, you have some who are sent and some who went. Some who thought and think that preaching requires you to go to theological seminaries and learn what the teacher teaches. But I believe the Bible is my text book and the Holy Spirit is my instructor.
What is the most important point for you to get across to those who come to your church?
That they come to church. The message from the Bible is the only hope for life, and at Revelation that's what I preach. If you want lessons on anything, you go to that source. If you want to know about science you go to science school. If you want to know about marriage and family, you go to marriage and family centers. If you come to church I believe you come to hear the word of the Lord. That’s what I focused on for the last 50 years. I’ve preached over 6,800 sermons at New Revelation and all of them have been about cross bearing, following Jesus, and loving the hell out of people.
Why do you believe that cross bearing isn’t popular?
It’s not popular, but it is powerful. It's a requirement if Jesus says it in Matthew, Mark and Luke—two times in each one of the gospels. He encourages us and requires us if you want to be my disciple you have to deny your self and take up your cross and follow Jesus. So crossbearing is the greatest challenge. It also produces the greatest reward.
What challenges have you overcome and how did you overcome them?
By the aide of the Holy Spirit. As a matter of fact, the Holy Spirit led me into all of the challenges and the accomplishments I made because I had no knowledge of pastoring. But I believe 50 years has proven that I have been successful. I had no knowledge in building a church, but the Holy Spirit directed and guided me so I built the church in six months and a half months without a loan.
How do you feel the political state of the church with issues like same sex marriage and the division of our nation down party lines?
I’m with the Bible. The Bible is against it, so I’m against it, though I’m not against homosexuals [individually]. As to politics, I nominated Jesse Jackson to run for president in the Democratic Party and served as a state representative. Then in 1963, I became the national clergy coalition organizer as we supported President George Bush because of his commitment to amend the constitution against same sex marriage. That was my first national leadership. So I’ve served on both sides—Democrat and Republican. I support the person and the cause, not the party.
What are your future goals?
My vision and my philosophy of pastoring is that we should not die in the seat. I feel that at 80 years old it’s time for preachers to work themselves out of a job.
You mentioned to your congregation and members that, “if you aren’t tired of me, I’m certainly not tired of you”, is that what you live by with your members?
That is still my commitment. I learned in 50 years that my leadership is not predicated upon people who want to follow, but predicated on the direction and the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
You still live by the “until the whole person is saved, your mission still remains”?
Yes, that's my slogan, I was called to preach not just to New Revelation but to the city of Pasadena. And my calling is to preach and teach until the whole person is saved. Until then, my mission remains .
What keeps you going?
There are no impossibilities through Christ and I’ve proven that in doing what has not been done in the Christian arena and not only in the Christian arena but in communities.
How did you manage to stay at one church so long?
I believe there are some things you should stay with as long as you live. One is marriage. My wife has been married to me for 58 years. I’ve been preaching 55 years and pastoring 50 years so I believe in staying put and enduring whatever comes. I’ve had my storms, but I’ve weathered them all.