Woman pastor revives church PDF Print E-mail
By Catherine Pritchard - The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer RALEIGH, N.C. -- 

For 13 decades, Oberlin Baptist Church adhered to a key tradition in Southern and black Baptist churches - only men could serve as pastor.

Then, in 2010, the church fired its pastor and started inviting both men and women in to preach on Sundays.

"We just wanted to fill the pulpit" each week, head deacon Swade Sanders said.

Church members figured Sherri Arnold Graham of Fayetteville would be just another in the parade of guest preachers. But by the end of her sermon, the church was ready for its world to shift on its axis.

"It just struck us," Sanders said. "This is the one."

That was in July. Within days of Graham's guest sermon, Sanders asked her to be the church's interim pastor. In December, the job became permanent. Now, Oberlin members beam over their new pastor, saying her energy, ideas, spirituality and teaching have brought new life, new members and new purpose to a church that had been stagnant and struggling.

Graham is relishing her first pastoring job after working for years in ministerial roles in Baptist churches in Fayetteville and Raleigh. She said she had long wanted to shepherd a church but had wondered whether she would get a chance because of Baptist traditions.

She had a feeling about Oberlin Baptist Church from the start. "I just felt connected upon my arrival," she said. "I just felt God's presence and I felt I might be able to be a blessing and to lead these people ... in this leg of their journey."

Organized by freed slaves in the 1870s and formally established in 1880, Oberlin Baptist has about 100 members, including some who are descendants of the church's founders. Several members live in other towns and drive 30 minutes to 45 minutes one way to get to the church.

The church is proud of its past. But now it is looking to the future with new eyes.

"She's pushing the congregation to a whole new level," said Julia Green, a lifelong member of the church. "She's like a dynamo, a phenom."

Read more: http://www.heraldonline.com/2011/02/19/2847963/woman-pastor-revives-church.html#ixzz1HxytgvLR
< Prev   Next >
This site designed and created by WebWahoo Web Design