By Rev. Dorothy S. Boulware, AFRO Managing Editor
While the Rev. Dr. Jamal Harrison Bryant is going to be the new pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia, Baltimore will always be home. “This is where I was reared. This is where I got my start and have grown up in ministry,” Dr. Bryant said. “So no matter that my job is somewhere else, my heart will always be in Baltimore.”
The start of his new job is fast approaching as he assumes the pastorate of New Birth, Dec. 9 – a move that is as much a surprise to him, as to anyone else who knows him.
“I actually thought I’d retire from Empowerment Temple,” the church Dr. Bryant started in 2000 with a mere 43 followers. He not only thought he’d always live in Baltimore and pastor the Empowerment Temple, but , “I thought I’d always be an AME African Methodist Episcopal,” the denomination of three generations of Bryants, two of whom have gone on to become bishops.
One of them is his father, the Right Rev. John R. Bryant, who along with his wife, Episcopal Supervisor the Rev. Cecelia Williams Bryant, became members of Empowerment Temple upon their retirement from assigned pastoral duty.
“It was reassuring to hear my Dad say, at our family Thanksgiving celebration, ‘You might be moving to Georgia, but we’re staying at the Empowerment Temple,’” Dr. Bryant said; a sentiment he believes is echoing among the more than 10,000 current members of his church.
“It would be an affront to God, as well as the community and the next pastor, if people just left because I’m leaving,” he said while explaining the next pastor will be appointed by the presiding AME bishop, but will have a hearty staff of trained ministers with which to work.
“Empowerment Temple needs to maintain its prominence in the city and the community and continue its witness to the grace of God.”
The same ministry skills that nurtured and propelled the Empowerment Temple will be used to enhance the ongoing ministry of New Birth.
“Jesus did 92 percent of his ministry outside the temple and we’ve always done the same through extensive community outreach,” Dr. Bryant said. His hope is to do the same with New Birth.