Jun02

Pastor Profile: Pastor Christopher Bourne • Bethlehem Church of Christ Holiness

Pastor Chris Bourne1Church: Bethlehem Church of Christ Holiness in Pasadena
Hometown: San Gabriel Valley, California
Educated: Citrus College, Cal State Fullerton, Vanguard University Religion and Leadership
Family: Married to First Lady Heather Bourne; two small children

Q: How long have you been preaching at Bethlehem Church?

A: I’ve been pastoring there for twelve years. Our church will be 65 years old this September. This is the church I grew up in, where I got saved and gave my life to the Lord. I left for awhile and went to Gospel Memorial Church in Long Beach and then West Angeles and then God brought me back home. The church was at a point where it was dying out and God brought me back full circle.

Q: When did you receive the call?

A: I received the call in the late 90s. As an adult, I continued to grow in church and one day I prayed and asked God to show me what it is he’d have for me to do. That night I had a dream and I saw myself preaching. I was like, “Oh no, this just cannot be it. That’s not on my radar.” But God just began to open up doors and move in me and change my heart, because I told him I wanted to do what He had for me to do. I was in my twenties. It took me some time. God was prodding me a little bit. My first sermon was July 4, 1999.

Q: Some pastors have themes: traditional, uplifting, youth, what is your approach to preaching?
A:
My overall approach is simplicity of the gospel. It is to bring the gospel message for everyone to understand and then apply it to their lives—from the lawyers that come through our church to those who’ve never known anything about Jesus. It is my responsibility to the young people and children to minister to them in a way that they can understand and live the Word.

And then have fun. I enjoy ministry and I enjoy being saved so I try to exemplify that on Sunday mornings when I minister and then on KJLH on Sunday nights when I’m on. I’m on the Power Hour every Sunday night with Larry P. I came by way of filling in one night for another minister. Our connection was so strong and the response was so good that I have been there ever since.

Q: What have been some challenges that you’ve faced since becoming pastor?

A: One of the things that has been pretty challenging is ministering during seasons of our world—making sure that when we were in a recession, we were encouraging people, continuing to give them hope when they were losing their jobs and homes. Just being able to provide resources. We do health fairs and clothing giveaways and make sure we have food to help those who needed some assistance. To provide something that would give them a glimmer of hope in God and help in their time of need, those are difficult times.

Q: Why did you start the House of Hope foundation and how successful has it been?

A: I got together with some of our trustees to talk about things I wanted to do in the community—like help with education for our youth and provide some sort of economic development and housing. We were able to develop that and it has been very successful.

We’ve received two grants: one from Southern California Edison for our tutoring program; and we have received a Basic Center Grant, which helps us deal with runaways and homeless youths between the ages of 12-17. So we’ve been very blessed with being able to partner with other agencies in and around our community to help stabilize many of our young people. Being a pastor gives you the opportunity to touch people’s lives and that is just priceless.

Q: What kind of kid were you in your youth?

A: Both of my parents raised my siblings and me in the church. I’ve been in church all of my life. I was into athletics. I played sports as a child and I play sports now as a grown man. I was very heavy into baseball and football. Some of my cousins got drafted—one for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the other by the Boston Red Sox— and then I started getting drafted to play baseball, but I tried to go to college to play football instead. Since I already had cousins in baseball, I wanted to rebel, and when scouts were coming to my games, I just opted to stick with football. When I look back now I say, “Wow I should have just stuck with what I knew.” But I enjoyed it. It was a life changing experience for me.

Q: What was it like being on national TV with your family last year for ABC’s “Bet On Your Baby”?

A: My wife applied to put our son on the show and they loved him and they put him on. It was fantastic it was so much fun. One of the things I try to do is take time to spend time with my family, they are my first line of ministry. I enjoyed it—for people to see it and see him experience it, it was priceless.

May05

Pastor Profile: Pastor Jewett Walker • New Shady Grove Baptist Church

jewett-walkerChurch: New Shady Grove Baptist Church
Occupation: President of 100 Black Men of Los Angeles; Political Consultant; Inglewood Area Minister's Association
Family: Married to Sandra Black Walker; father of three

Q: How are you enjoying your new post as pastor of New Shady Grove Baptist Church?
A:
It’s been quite rewarding. It’s a tremendous opportunity to make an impact on that community. I hope to reach out to young people—young men especially and provide them with an opportunity to find work and reach out to individuals who can help them with family matters, custody issues, and help trying to navigate the system.

I believe it’s very important for a church to make a concerted effort to reach men and that’s what I plan to do.

Q: Have you made any progress in your outreach?
A:
We had some internal issues that needed to be dealt with after I got there. First of all we went through a name change and a re-incorporation of the church and now that that's done we can concentrate on outreach and discipleship.

Q: Why do you feel they chose you? What’s your strong suit?
A:
I would like to believe that they chose me because I had fresh ideas. Although I had not been a pastor before. I was an associate minister at True Vine Baptist Church in Inglewood under Dr. Austin Willams. Serving under him I learned quite a bit about leadership and church administration—both of which are very important.

I believe my strong suit is church administration. Its not enough to reach out to people you have to have some sense of organizational structure and how it can handle growth, how best to plan for it and what kind of financial controls you need in place.

Q: Why did the church add “New” to its name?
A:
The church was operating in an antiquated structure, which needed to be re-visited and updated. And we wanted to be able to reflect to the community that this is a rebirth and a restart.

Q: What’s your preaching style?

A: I have what I consider to be a teaching style. Our service is blended. It’s not just a traditional Baptist church. We offers elements of a traditional Black Baptist church, but is also adapted to meet the needs of the people today.

Q: When did you get the call to preach? What were you doing in that moment?
A:
I got the call years ago but it lay dormant. I was sixteen years old. And then I picked it back up years later and moved forward on it.

It’s a unique kind of feeling that you get about being called to pastor. Some people have a call to evangelize; some people have a call to witness to people, but they don't necessarily want to pastor. But being a pastor takes a whole different level of commitment because you’re dealing with the issues that affect other people. I believe God, and even my father, was telling me, at that young age that that it wasn't the time for me because I didn't have the “tenacity” for pastorship. I was not in the position to counsel a couple or people who have been married 20 years. God in his own way made me wait until I had enough experience to apply to helping people who would come to me in their time of need.

I had intended to preach in my 20s but I’m grateful and thankful that I didn't because God prepares everybody in their own time. I had the call but I didn't have the preparation and I’m a firm believer in preparation.

Q: Why did your father discourage you from answering to preach?

A: My father—who was a pastor here in Los Angeles for the AME Zion organization—encouraged me to get my education first and revisit it. So I did. I got my education and then I didn't revisit it quickly enough. In my early 50s I joined True Vine and became licensed and ordained and then I went back to school for my Masters in Divinity and am currently working on my Doctorate degree.

Q: What was it like growing up a preacher’s kid?

A: Because my parents were divorced and I grew up with my mother, a lot of people didn't know my father was a preacher, so it was no big deal. When I lived with him and everybody knew it, then that was different. I didn't realize that I intentionally modified my behavior to reflect that I was a preacher’s kid and raised in a certain style. It did keep me grounded.

Q: How did you become affiliated with the 100 Black Men of Los Angeles?

A: I was invited to join in 2007 and that was right in the middle of me representing Marguerite LaMotte in her second term as school board member. I honestly felt that it was the worse time to join, but that's when I was invited and that's the only way you can join. So despite this campaign I needed to accept and go through the process.

So I got in, got involved with various campaigns and helped plan a fundraiser that helped generate over $100,000 for Barack Obama.

Q: And now you’re president.

A: I joined in 2007 and became president three years later. It was not my intent when I joined but, because the work of the mentoring program and the Young Black Scholars program is so important, and there’s such a need, I just found myself making sure that I was available to make a commitment to the program. People took notice and encouraged me to run.

Apr07

Pastor Profile: Pastor Larry Dove

Pastor Larry DoveChurch: Park Hills Community Church
Hometown: Los Angeles
Schooling: Business Administration with a concentration on computer science at Cal State Dominguez Hills; MA from Fuller University
Family: married to first lady Yolanda Renee; father of two
Website: www.parkhillsrca.org

Q: After thirteen years of ministering in Paramount, CA, how did you come to be senior pastor at Park Hills?
A:
In 2010 there was a restlessness stirring inside me. I knew God was preparing myself, and my wife, for an upcoming change. In 2011, the former pastor of Park Hills, Rev. Richard Horton died of cancer. The church began an immediate search for a replacement. In the interim, I was invited to preach at Park Hills. After preaching a second time, I received an email asking if I would be interested in vying for the open pastoral position. I decided this opportunity might be of God so I submitted my resume assuming they would choose someone younger than myself (I was 61 years old). After a couple of interviews, to my surprise they informed me I was the candidate. I said yes to the call and was officially ordained as Pastor of Park Hills Community Church on July 15, 2012.

Q: When did you recieve the call to preach?
A:
I went to Crenshaw Christian Center for about three years. My wife went to another church, which was pastored by her mother until I was led by God to start attending the church my wife attended. While I was there, I ‘instantly’ became a deacon. It was a small church. After a year they nominated me to become the assistant pastor of the church of Holy Temple Mission. That started me on my growth in ministry. I stayed there for about 15 years.

My road to full time ministry is kind of an unusual twist. We were living in Long Beach at that time and I started attending a predominantly white church nearby my house called Emanuel Church in Paramount—mainly because I was looking for a challenge and I really wanted to jump into full time ministry. So I would go to their 9am service and jump into my car and head to my service at 11:30am. At first I felt out of place, primarily because I was one of five African Americans that attended the church.

But I toughed it out and one day the lead pastor asked me to start a service at Emanuel Church, which became the Noon Service. It was the flagship for diversity to become a reality at Emanuel—not only for more African Americans, but Hispanics and a few Asians joined. It grew by leaps and bounds. About two years into it, the lead pastor asked me to leave my job and become full time at Emmanuel.

Q: What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to face in ministry?
A:
It was not an easy decision to leave Holy Temple but my wife’s mother, who pastored the church, knew that I needed a change and a challenge. She went with me to Emanuel a few times and one day she told me “I understand God is calling you, but why do you have to go to a white church?” She stayed on in her church for about thirteen more months and then eventually came over to Emanuel.

When I first arrived 95% of the members were white. By the time I left it was 65% white, 20% Latino and 15% black. There were struggles along the way just having to deal with people’s prejudices, biases and attitudes. The most difficult thing was gaining the people’s respect as a full time minister there. I had to earn that respect, it wasn't given to me.

Q: What kind of childhood did you have?
A:
There was a lot of love, happiness and joy, but, also, because of alcoholism, there was a lot of pain and a lot of brokenness. It was both sides of the spectrum. My father, shortly after he got out of the army, brought with him an addiction to alcohol. When life got really hard for him, he went straight to the bottle. My parents were separated three times during my childhood. When he went on a drinking binge, my mother had to leave him in order for him to come back to himself. And then he would send for us or come back to us and we’d be a family again. On the third time the separation became permanent. By that time I was a teenager about to enter into college.

Q: When did you come to know God?
A:
I met my wife in 1975 on the college campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills. When I met her she was a Christian, but I was not. However, we hit it off really well and went on a date. Later, she invited me to Crenshaw Christian Center for Bible study. I went and listened and I liked what I heard. That evening I was alone and contemplating on the Bible study and made a commitment to God that I would give him eight weeks of my life. I wanted him to transform my life or at least make himself known in a very tangible way. And by His grace He did. He not only saved me, but delivered me from a few sinful habits within the next few months.

Q: What is your preaching style?
A:
I try to be very pragmatic. Because I want people to get the gospel, I don't want to preach at them. I don't want to preach to them. I want to engage them. The Bible says He gave us apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers. So I’m a teacher of the gospel. I love showing scripture, using stories, analogies. I want to paint a picture in the people’s head of the application. If they can walk out of there with that picture painted in their head then I believe that will stay with them much longer than just throwing scripture or theological terms at them. I’ve only been there about eighteen months but I really do believe they are appreciative of my style.

Mar03

pastor profile: Pastor Anthony Dockery

Anthony DockeryQ: Did you always know that you were going to be a pastor?

A: It’s definitely not something I always knew. I can’t even say it’s something I really wanted. I love people and I love being able to serve, but I wanted to do it the way I wanted to do it—and the way I wanted to do it was in the flying world.
My father is an air traffic controller so as a child I remember being in the tower and seeing a plane go by and thinking I want to do that. I became a pilot for the Air Force and I’d just gotten hired by American Airlines—when Pastor [E.W.] McCall said ‘No, I want you to be my successor here,’ and I thought no, I have plans.

Q: Did he know something you didn’t?

A: He did see something in me from the beginning.

Q: Did he tell you?

A: Not early on, but later on he did. He said, ‘You know I may retire,’ and I said well when you retire, that’ll probably be close to when I’ll be going to the airlines and I’m gonna make my switch. And he said, ‘No, you’re going to retire from the military and come here as the senior pastor.’
Was he grooming you?

That was his plan, yes. St. Stephens is extremely unique. We have a large congregation of about 3500 members, but we have a very small full time staff. He’d never hired a full time minister prior to me and he was here 37 years so it was all on him. However, he is the best at orchestrating lay leadership. So we had members who gave three, four days a week without batting an eye.

I was the first person he brought on staff as a minister and we used to call ourselves Batman and Robin. He is a father, a best friend, a boss, a mentor and a confidante.

Q: Your church puts almost as much emphasis on Sunday school as service?

A: We have a huge Sunday school—about 900 people every week—for everyone. And that’s really our hub. Pastor McCall used to have a cliché we still hold on to, —that Sunday school makes church folks Christians. So our Sunday school has been our flagship from birth.

Q: Pastor McCall was sure of you as senior pastor, when did you become sure that this was the right move for you?

A: I remember the exact day. It was December 31st of 2008. When the Lord gave the vision of the church moving forward. That’s when I knew, this is it! Because I was executive pastor all of 2007 and so everybody’s like okay we know what’s going to happen and they’re trying to kind of push you forward and find out what’re you gonna do, and I said, I’m not even thinking about what we’re gonna do—we have a pastor right now. I’m not trying to have a vision. I’m not trying to see what we’re going to do. Right now I’m executive pastor and I’m following a vision that we have.

But as soon as Pastor McCall passed the baton—and we did it out in front of the congregation—it was like the floodgates opened. I tell other minsters this as well—it wasn’t a moment before, it wasn’t years before, it wasn’t days before; it didn’t happen until that moment of moving forward that the vision and illumination came.

Q: What are differences in style between you and your predecessor?

A: In a lot of ways other than age, we’re very similar. Pastor McCall, he knows how to drop the hammer if there needs to be a hammer dropped. I consider myself like a velvet hammer. I am smoother, more easygoing than Pastor McCall. We’re both expository Bible preachers, so we’re going to walk through a test and make it applicable to you. Not fire and brimstone, just contextual. Every month we have a theme. This month we’re transitioning into kindness. So we’ll preach on kindness. So people learn kindness.

Q: What have been the challenges over the last six years?

A: You have some members who literally want everything to change and then you have some members that want nothing to change. It’s knowing what to do and when, but also how to implement change in a way that’s not distracting.

Q: How important is it for you to have a voice in what goes on outside of the church’s four walls?

A: A lot of pastors would shy away from controversy, but we have to keep our voice and deal with hot button social issues. We can’t be silent on homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia—all these different things we can’t fall silent on. We have to be proactive in missions—global missions and local missions as well. It’s easy to get passive and focus in on our own congregation only, but we have to reach out.

We actually celebrate lent, which a lot of Baptist churches don’t, but Ash Wednesday is the biggest Wednesday service we have the whole year and we make covenants and commitments together as a church, about what we’re gonna do.

Q: What is the biggest joy for you?

A: It’s that “ah ha” moment when someone gets it—someone gets saved—when you can help somebody to transition, to transform, renew, or to forgive. Unfortunately, you see more of the downside because that’s when people call you the most. So you probably don’t get it as much as you want, but there’s enough.

God allows some to plant and some to water, but it’s Him that gives the increase. I tell our leaders that you may never see the increase, but we got to keep planting and watering, so I don’t allow the increase to be my motivation. I like to see it but I don’t need it. You just kind of do what you’ve got to do and let God do his part.

Feb05

Pastor Profile: Bishop Clarence McClendon

Church: Full Harvest International Church (South Bay)
Hometown: Decatur, Illinois
Family: Wife, Priscilla, father of four
Broadcast: Founder/president of Clarence E. McClendon Ministries (CEMM), which sponsors the weekly international TV broadcast ‘A Miracle for You’; also in the cast of “Preachers of L.A.”
Website: www.bishopmcclendon.com

Q: You’re gearing up for your “Spirit of Prophecy” Conference later this month—what do you hope to accomplish with it?
A: The prophecy convention is one of three annual conventions we do every year. The theme of Spirit of Prophecy is taken from Revelations 19:10, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

What that verse actually means in the original language is the evidence that Jesus is alive and with us is what the spirit of God continues to reveal Him to us in fresh ways that are related to our time.

People hear the term ‘spirit of prophecy’ and they think Armageddon. No, this is the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the church—the spirit of God revealing to the church the Lord is saying now for this time in this season, and we believe each year there is something schematic that God is emphasizing to his body and we have a part to play in that.

What’s great about the convention is the time that we are ministering and establishing those connected to this audience to what we believe the spirit of the Lord is saying to the church.

Q: People still remember your Harvest Fire Crusades, will you bringing that back or is this conference a progression of that event?
A: Harvest Fire served its purpose in its day. We are doing another conference in August, which will be held in Atlanta, as the modern incarnation of Harvest Fire— that’s our major conference of the year.

Harvest Fire was a long time ago. People were still doing 7-8 day meetings at the time. Those days are over unless the Holy Ghost extends the meetings past three days and of course, we’re certainly open to that.

Q: You’ve said you knew at seven that you were called to preach, what made you so sure?
A: I heard the voice of the spirit of the Lord call me. I went to my father, a pastor, and asked him how do you know if God is calling you to preach and he said, “You’ll know if it stays with you. It never leaves you.”

Some people hear an audible voice. Some people have the spirit of the Lord reveal something to them. Some people are saved and just go for it. But if you’re called of God, I believe there is a significant moment when you recognize that. I received the call from God at seven. I knew beyond the shadow of any doubt I was called at eleven.

Q: How have you changed in the years since you’ve come to Los Angeles?
A: My vision has always been global. There has always been a tremendous evangelistic worldwide thrust to the vision God committed to my care. Coming to Los Angeles confirmed it and expanded the vision in me for a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic church and ministry.

At that time there was over a 110 or so languages in the Los Angeles area and I recognized that God literally brought the world to Los Angeles.

To have an effective ministry in Los Angeles, I believe, at least for me, my ministry had to cross culture. That is one of the most significant impacts L.A. has had in my ministry and in me,— a need for a cross culture and multi-ethnic community.

Q: What is the biggest challenge for Clarence McClendon today?
A: One of the biggest challenges is assisting people in recognizing that the church at large is shifting in its paradigm. We are in the mist right now of a global charismatic and Pentecostal reformation that is no less significant than when Martin Luther nailed his “Ninety-Five Theses” [centering on practices relative to baptism and absolution in Catholicism] to the church door. There is a fuller disclosure of the revelation of the person of Jesus Christ. The greater challenge is helping people move into what Jesus is saying to his church and releasing the performance based Christianity of yesteryear.

Q: Are you on track with your goals?
A: I believe I am. We’ve had to spend a number of years laying an Apostolic foundation for a fresh move of the spirit of grace. One of the things I believe enabled us to function in our first incarnation in Los Angeles, the way we did as quickly as we did, is that we were building on someone else’s foundation—the foundation was already laid there.

When I moved I had to lay my own foundation and that has taken some time, but I believe that we are on track. And I’m certain than in the next several months that people will recognize how global our outreach has become.

Q: What kind of preacher would you characterize yourself as?
A: I am a prophetic revelatory preacher.

Q: What do you believe the future holds for you and Full Harvest?
A: Stay tuned. By April or May of this year people will be seeing a full manifestation of what we believe the Spirit of the Lord is directing us to do. Here and elsewhere. We just opened a global ministry office in London that will be assisting us in our ministry to the U.K and even Africa. We are looking at facilities in the rest of the continent. There are some very interesting things that are happening right now.

Q: What would the teenager you were when you and your brother crusading around the country preaching think of the man you’ve become?
A: That young man would be absolutely amazed at what Jesus is actually able to do with a life that simply desires to say yes. He’d be amazed, not surprised, because even the good is so much better than I anticipated and the challenges are also so much harder.

Q: What is your biggest joy these days?
A: Seeing my youngest son, Seth, have love and adoration for the things of God.

Q: What would you say is your biggest accomplishment to date?
A: Is that I am in still in love with Jesus of Nazareth.

Jan07

Pastor Profile: Austin Avery • Total Deliverance Church

Pastor_Avery_AustinHometown: Littlerock, Arkansas; raised in South Central L.A.
Church: Total Deliverance Church of Lancaster; the fastest growing church in the Antelope Valley with 1,500 members
Education: BA at Faculty Theological Seminary of Montebello, & attended Southern California School of Ministry.
Married: To First Lady Shannon; father of three
Website: www.totaldeliverance.com

Q: When did you first receive the call to preach?
A:
I was called to preach in October of ‘93. I had officially joined a church; I had just come off the streets.

I used to be one of the biggest drug dealers in California. I was gang banging and everything, but I had joined the military, because I’d been looking for a way out so I began to go to church and to really seek God for truth because I knew I didn’t want to be that old person anymore.

My mother was a crackhead and my father had somewhat abandoned us in my mind when he moved to a whole different state. Plus I had two younger brothers to look out for so I had to do what I needed to, to survive, but I had a praying grandmother. I joined the military and got hooked in with the Islamic faith, but I still had that empty void like I was always incomplete.

My cousin invited me to church back in ‘92 and I ended up getting saved right around in November, and then a year later I was seeking the faith of God and right around October ‘93, the Lord called me to the ministry. I became ordained in 1998.

Q: Those are some big challenges to overcome.

A: It’s amazing to me. It’s nothing that I did, so I take no credit for it. God has been very gracious to me. I survived a whole lot of things that I should not be here to even testify about, but by the grace of God I’m still here.

When God called me to pastor in 2000, I didn’t want to pastor. But when I asked him, “Are you calling me to pastor?,” I just needed my assigned territory. That’s when He gave me the Antelope Valley.

I was a little nervous. I didn’t know where Lancaster was. I had to look it up. Once I looked it up, I found out the racial history of Lancaster and learned it was the headquarters for the Skinheads. But I was determined to obey. The only challenge ended up being getting qualified personnel as the church grew.

Q: What would you say your preaching style is like?

A: I have more of a expository style of preaching that’s the kind of style that I do, I am a teacher preacher or a preacher teacher, I’m really uncut—like this is how it is, right up in your face. The young people say “I keep it one hundred.” I’m very transparent. I belive in just being open and honest and that’s how I preach.

Q: What are your strengths as a pastor?

A: My transparency, because I believe that people are churched out. They’re preached out and I believe they are seeking some type of realness. And when they can see that you are transparent, and that you’re trying to do the best with what you have, and you answer to God, it encourages them to do likewise.

Q: Would the people you went to high school with be surprised at the man you become today?

A: Amazed. It ‘s funny you should ask that because I recently came across two or three individuals who moved out here after high school. I hadn’t seen them in over twenty years and they just happen to be driving down the street and see the church sign with my name on it. They came in to see if it was the same guy, and when they see me they are absolutely amazed. They cannot believe it. They figured I’d be dead or in jail by now.

Q: What are the rewards of the ministry?

A: When I see hope come into the lives of hopeless individuals and when I see that sparkle of “maybe I can make it,” especially when they’ve been so beat up by life. A lot of them come in because they are like me—looking for a way out. But they just didn’t know how to get out.

The Lord has really blessed us to be a transformation station and we’ve been transforming lives, so when I see someone who’s just totally turned their life around, that is the greatest reward for me. It can’t get any better than that.

First Ladies High Tea
November will mark the 20th Anniversary of our Annual First Ladies High Tea, honoring the contributions of female leaders and women of faith to the Los Angeles community. For more information, visit www.firstladieshightea.com
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