Bishop Walter S. Thomas

New Psalmist Baptist Church on April 19 launched a year-long celebration to commemorate their pastor, the Rt. Rev. Walter Scott Thomas’ 40 years in ministry. Bishop Thomas was called to pastor the Baltimore congregation in 1975 and, since then, has overseen the growth of its membership from a couple hundred to several thousand; the development of various ministries that serve the Baltimore community; the building of and movement to a new sanctuary; and the nurturing of several sons and daughters in ministry. Bishop Thomas took time to answer a few of the AFRO’s questions on this auspicious season in his ministry.

AFRO: How does it feel to be celebrating 40 years in ministry?

Bishop Thomas: This is an exciting time. I had no idea 40 years ago that God would do the amazing things we have been permitted to see. It is so strange to stand and see those who were not even born when I became pastor working hard to plan this celebration. I must admit I give God the glory for doing something so great with people that it inspires so many.

AFRO: What ingredients were key to helping you thrive in—what many people may not realize is—one of the toughest vocations?

Bishop Thomas: My parents taught me to be both idealistic and realistic. My mother taught us to have an indefatigable faith and my father taught us to work with the reality that you have. Over these 40 years I have learned to trust God for the impossible. I have learned that God is beyond faithful and true. I have also taken into account the realities that I face and I have learned to manage in light of their brutal truth. Secondly, I have found a life anchored in Christ. That anchor has held in the difficult moments and has given inspiration to take challenges that have seemed so improbable. Thirdly, I have worked and still do work with the best people in the world. I work with others. No success ever belongs solely to me. The evidences of this ministry are indeed joint ventures. I have been so blessed to work with hard workers, deep thinkers, and truly Christ filled people. Finally, I have had the unquestioned support of my loving family. My family has been a pearl of great price for me. I love them more than words can describe.

AFRO:  How did you get into ministry?

Bishop Thomas: I was a graduate from college working in a supervisory position for a major corporation when a friend, the now Rev. Darrell Greene, asked to me visit the church he had recently joined. I said “yes” but meant “no.” On the appointed Sunday, however, I went to the New Shiloh Baptist Church pastored by the late Dr. Harold A. Carter Sr. I planned to be a Ph.D. in economics, but my stay at Shiloh caused that dream to fade day by day. I learned the real problem of life was the connection and lack of connection persons had with God. They missed God’s grace and greatness. After sitting there for months and involving myself in the ministry I felt the urging of God to enter the ministry. I accepted and have never looked back.

AFRO: What legacy do you believe you have created as pastor of New Psalmist—and not just within the walls of the church?

Bishop Thomas: As I reach this special milestone I cannot help but think of legacy. I hope that the joy of the Lord and the all sufficiency of Christ have radiated from my life in such a way to inspire others in the same pursuit. I want to leave a legacy of excellence and effectiveness. I have sought to make God real in human experience and to help others know God as the God of everyday life. I have sons and daughters in ministry who make me proud everyday as they take these themes to the people and places they serve and make them come alive once again.

AFRO: What is your hope/vision for the second half of your ministry?

Bishop Thomas: The second half? Well, I hope to empower persons to see beyond the horizons of their living and dream the dreams of God for their lives. I see new involvements as we follow God’s leading to transform lives. We are working more and more with the community, showing them the power of God’s collective people. I see young people becoming empowered and the church paving a way for that to happen.