Name: Pastor Heber Brown III
Church, how long: I’ve been the pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church for 4 and ½ years.
430 E. Belvedere Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21212
School: Morgan State University (B.S. in Psychology), Virginia Union University (Master of Divinity) and Wesley Theological Seminary (Doctor of Ministry – expected graduation 2014)
Wife: Chante’ Brown
How did you hear your call to ministry?
I was raised in a family of bishops, pastors and church leaders. God spoke to me and groomed me for ministry through a confluence of factors, not least of which are the examples of my family members and my own lived experiences.
After embracing my call to preparation for ministry, I continued by serving in the ministry and eventually standing to preach my initial sermon on Thanksgiving Day 2000. Eight years later, I sensed a call to pastoral ministry and soon thereafter was commissioned to begin serving as senior pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church.
What was the biggest surprise when you started ministry?
One of the biggest surprises I encountered involved the myriad of issues and dynamics behind the scenes that pastors have to constantly engage. As an associate minister, I was not privy to all that. Even seminary doesn’t give instruction on many issues that pastors today are dealing with. Many people would be surprised to learn of the many complex situations pastors are called to behind the scenes.
What aspect are you most proud of?
As it pertains to Pleasant Hope Baptist Church, I am most proud that we are developing a capacity for redemptive risk-taking as well as creative, Christ-centered, experimentation with how we study, worship and serve together. We hold fast to the sentiment that “the church” is not the building, but the people who have been gathered and are being transformed by the Spirit of God. We are learning together what it means to “be church” today – celebrating one another’s gifts and extending grace as we sometimes stumble along The Way.
What’s the most exciting thing about your ministry?
I am extremely excited by the fact that I’m comfortable in my own skin as a pastor. I’m clear that God has placed within me a passion for social justice advocacy alongside those who are marginalized, and Christ-centered community organizing. I am captivated as well by the intersection of Pan-Africanism, traditional African religion/spirituality and The Way of Jesus. I am thankful that God is sending people to our church who share or complement these kinds of convictions or interests.
I am compelled to honor the examples and walk in the prophetic ministerial traditions of ancestors and elders like Nat Turner, Bishop Henry McNeal Turner, Marcus Garvey, Jo Ann Robinson, Ella Baker, Albert Cleage, Malcolm X, Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara, Steve Biko, John Henrik Clarke, Ishakumusa Barashango, Queen Mother Moore, Dr. Harvey Johnson, Baltimore’s own Goon Squad and a whole host of others!
How does social media enhance your ministry, or not?
It allows me to connect with members of our church beyond Sunday and has emerged as a unique complimentary tool for pastoral care. Social media also allows our ministry to link with those beyond our community. We utilize Facebook, Twitter and our mobile app to live out our faith, nurture connections, encourage outreach and represent the church to a society that often has a negative view of Christians and Christianity.
Who in your community most inspires you?
I am inspired by many in our church community. I’m particularly blessed by the intergenerational aspect and diversity. We have nurtured safe space at Pleasant Hope for intergenerational dialogue and cooperation. By no means is that always easy, but we’ve found that when we take the time to come and stay together, it yields benefits for all involved.
I’m also inspired by the fact that Pleasant Hope regularly learns from and shares space with people of different faiths. From Quakers to Muslims to Jews, and even those who claim no religion – our church has been blessed to hear and learn from our neighbors.
What’s your favorite form of recreation? Self care?
I love being with my family! My wife and our two young sons are amazing. One of my most regular forms of recreation and self-care for me these days centers on hanging out around the house with them.
In addition, I like white water rafting and blasting old school hip hop while my boys and I freestyle and dance!