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Meet our Faith leader of the month of April – Rev. Samuel Paul, Jr

Rev. Samuel Paul, Jr is a Chicago native and a product of the Chicago Public School system. He participated in community organizing and political activism as an undergraduate at the University of Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa. Over the years, he has been active as a collaborator with churches and community coalitions, doing the work of social justice as an activist and community organizer. Rev. Paul has been blessed to enjoy three careers spent serving others in Child Welfare, Education, and Ministry. Rev. Samuel’s spiritual formation began as a preschooler in Hope Bible Church, a church his grandfather co-founded, and at home, under the watchful eyes of his ordained father and his mother, who taught Sunday school. Rev. Paul was ordained a Pentecostal Elder on Oct. 29, 2004.

Education and scholarship were life-saving pleasures in his youth, having grown up in a small apartment with eleven children and four adults on the South side of Chicago. Rev. Paul has earned a Masters Degree in Urban Teaching and a Masters degree in Instructional Leadership with a type 75 Illinois administrative license. He used that education to work as an Assistant Principal for four years. In 2017 he earned an MDiv degree from the Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia. Rev. Samuel has served in many leadership roles in the church as a lay leader and as an ordained minister. Servant Leader is a title most appropriately used to characterize Rev. Paul’s role in the church and society. He has served as Youth Pastor, Minister of Social Justice, Men’s Ministry Leader, Sanctuary Choir member, Pastoral Care Team member, and church custodian. Last year he completed training through the Interim Ministry Network to serve the church and community as an Interim Pastor. Rev. Samuel recently completed a six-year call as an Associate Minster at a small Baptist church of Chicago’s South side. Rev. Paul is ecumenical in practice, having spent thirty-five years in membership and service as a United Church of Christ member.

Currently, Rev. Paul works as an educator in the Chicago Public School System as a full-time fourth-grade teacher. He’s also working within his call to ministry as a public theologian to develop, fund, and staff the Praise House Anti-Racism Institute, Inc. This is a 501c3 nonprofit organization he founded as President and CEO two years ago to combat structural and systemic racism in America. Rev. Samuel is deeply committed to working with community organizations and coalitions, such as the Grassroots Action for Police Accountability (GAPA) coalition. An ordinance was written in partnership with the Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC), which led to the Chicago City Council passage and the creation of community District Councils to provide community oversight of the Chicago Police Department. A few years ago, Rev. Paul sat at other tables, such as the coalition of community organizations and the ACLU. That work led to the filing of a lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department to address police misconduct and mentally challenged a federal consent decree. As a result, to ensure safeguards to protect the mentally challenged against CPD abuse and misconduct.

Meet our Faith leader of the month of January – Minister Abdul Salaam Muhammad, Baltimore Muhammad Mosque No. 6

Resident Imam/Minister Of Muhammad Mosque No.6 and Baltimore Representative Of The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan & National Archivist and Historian for The Nation of Islam Minister Abdul Salaam Muhammad was born Carlos Ward in Baltimore, Maryland.

He attended several Baltimore Area Schools throughout his school career, but he received his High School diploma from Catonsville Senior High School in 1991.

From an early age, Minister Muhammad had a passion for all things historical. While in his
freshman year of High School he began to study Black History. It is through this study that he became interested in Malcolm X and The Nation of Islam, this led to Minister Muhammad attending his first Mosque Meeting in 1989.

In 1990 he had the opportunity to attend the “Stop The Killing” Rally at The then, Baltimore Arena, and heard The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, the National Representative of The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, speak live for the very first time. After hearing this powerful lecture Minister Muhammad wanted to learn more, so he started attending meetings at Muhammad Mosque Number Six in Baltimore, Maryland. He later joined The Nation of Islam, received his “X” at the tender age of 16.

In October of 1991 at The Nation of Islam’s Annual Saviours’ Day Convention he was awarded the title of Top Final Call Salesman and received an award to reflect his hard work; however, the greatest honor of that evening was when The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan himself, before 10.000 people, replaced Minister Carlos’ X with the name Muhammad, which means one
worthy of praise and one who is praised much.

From 1991-1993, Minister Muhammad worked his way through the ranks of The Nation of Islam and was often referred to, and commonly known as, a “Top Soldier.” He was a Squad Leader, a Lieutenant, a Paper Captain, FOI Secretary and an Assistant Minister. In November of 1994, at the age of 20, The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan appointed him to the post of Minister of Muhammad Mosque Number Six, making him the youngest Minister in The Nation of Islam at
that time.

In 1995 Minister Muhammad served as a Co-Convener of the Baltimore Local Organizing Committee for The Historic Million Man March. Along with many community leaders and activists throughout Baltimore City he was able to galvanize over 250,000 Black Men to be a part of that historic moment in time.

In 2015 he was just as active in trying to spread the word about the 20th Anniversary of The Million Man March, The Justice or Else Movement. This movement, sparked by the countrywide assaults and killings of blacks and people of color by law enforcement officers, sparked a flame of revolution that lit the city of Baltimore as well. The killing of Freddie Gray by Baltimore City Police Officers sparked an unrest that most were afraid to confront; however, The Fruit of Islam, led by the guidance of Minister Muhammad, were on the frontlines of this city’s battlefield.

Along with many brave activists and street organizers, Minister Muhammad was blessed to help bring calm into a tumultuous situation.

In 2014 Minister Muhammad was appointed The National Archivist and Historian for The Nation of Islam. He travels the country gathering artifacts and materials while doing lectures and workshops about The Nation of Islam’s beautiful History, as well as conducting face-to-face interviews with the pioneers of the Nation of Islam.

In July of 2022, Minister Muhammad was blessed and bestowed with the name Abdul Salaam by The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. The name Abdul Salaam means servant of The God of Peace.

On September 17, 2022 The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan appointed Abdul Salaam Muhammad as The Nation of Islam’s 2nd Imam and resident Imam of Muhammad Mosque Number Six. After nearly three decades of dedication, Imam Abdul Salaam Muhammad continues to serve as Minister & Imam of Muhammad Mosque Number Six in the City of Baltimore.

He also continues to serve the City of Baltimore by bridging gaps and building relationships with faith based communities, street organizations, youth organizations, pioneers, and colleges and universities. The mission of Minister Muhammad is to be a bridge from the past to the future by using his love of History as his guide.

Video of the month – Sunday School with Pernel Jones Jr.

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Meet our Faith leader for the month of November – Dr. Frances “Toni” Draper

Dr. Frances “Toni” Draper announced her retirement as pastor of Freedom Temple AMEZ Church October, 2022

Dr. Frances “Toni” Draper has been a community leader in her home, Baltimore, for decades, with leadership positions in journalism, a church she founded and education.

In February 2018, she was named chairman of the board and publisher of the AFRO American Newspapers, which was founded in 1892 by her great-grandfather. She served previously as president of the company from 1987 to 1999.

In 2002, She became the founding pastor of the Freedom Temple African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in south Baltimore. She received a Doctor of Ministry degree in preaching and leadership from the United Theological Seminary in Ohio in 2006. Her bachelor’s degree in Spanish language education in 1969 is from Morgan State University and served on the university’s Board of Regents for 24 years before stepping down last June.

She also holds a master’s degrees in education, business administration and pastoral counseling. Her mother, Frances L. Murphy II, helped inspire her to be a community leader. She encouraged her to honor God, treat people the way you want to be treated and surround yourself with younger people who can keep you up to date on the latest trends and technologies.

Now it’s her turn to inspire the younger generation. She often tells her grandchildren that it’s important to give back to the community because many people need a genuine hand up or a simple word of encouragement, in order to survive and thrive. When people are healthy economically, socially and spiritually, communities are healthy.

Read the AFRO article about her recent retirement here.

We promote the name and ministry of Jesus Christ, make disciples, strengthen individuals and families and positively affect our neighborhood; the greater Baltimore region, and the world.

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Video of the month – Sunday School with Pernel Jones Jr.

Our Faith leader for the month of October – Pastor Wilhelmina Street

~ Embracing God’s Vision ~    

Pastor Wilhelmina Street, West Montgomery United Methodist

As a young girl, at six years old, I was sent to attend a nearby Methodist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. However, my stepmother frequently attended a Baptist church on the other side of town, and my father declined to connect with any church. I learned he did not participate in church because he still missed my mother, who died at my birth. In addition, I heard that he was angry with God. However, while dad was distant from God and me, I found a closeness to the one I learned to be my heavenly Father at the little church, Lauraville Methodist.  

My first-grade elementary school teacher was also my Vacation Bible School and Sunday School teacher. Over the next several years, she taught me scriptures and convinced me that God’s love was real and that He loved me.

The pastor helped me understand how and why Jesus died for me. I remember several times; tears flowed down my face when I heard about Jesus dying on the cross for the people of the world. The world – I knew that included ME! Whenever tears would flow, I would quickly wipe them away or try to hide them from my friends who sat on each side of me. I wondered why they were not crying too.

One Sunday morning, when I was 12 years old, I knelt at the baptismal font and was baptized. God had begun a new life in me, and I knew Lauraville Methodist significantly impacted my life. I continued to attend that church until I went away to college in Raleigh, NC, at 16 years old.

In college, I studied elementary education for the first two years but became concerned because I thought teaching a child was too big of a task for me. Believing I was not mature enough to handle the responsibility, I decided to stop schooling and work for six years. In 1979, I returned to college in South Jersey and finished my bachelor’s degree in Radio/TV at Rowan University. During those six years, the direction of my life changed with the death of my father, an ailing and terminally ill aunt whom I lived with, and a non-existent connection with the church, which I knew I needed. I thought about going home and returning to Lauraville Methodist but found out from my childhood friends that the church was closed a few years prior.

So, at 24, through a group of college friends at one of their Bible study sessions in Philadelphia, I reaffirmed my faith in Jesus Christ, professing my acceptance of God’s grace by faith. As I contemplate my earlier years, I see that ‘prevenient grace’ was there through many of my life experiences. This same grace has influenced how God has shaped my life and inner spirit for kingdom work. God’s justifying grace reassures me that I am forgiven of my sins. Moreover, sanctifying grace will lead me to consistent holiness throughout my Christian life and walk.

My reaffirmation to God and an endeavor to right living encouraged me to spend many hours studying the Bible, meditating, and memorizing scripture. Immediately, I felt called to reach the spiritually ‘lost’ through witnessing and sharing the Gospel with family, friends, and several street evangelism teams in Philadelphia and Maryland. John 3:16 continually burned in my heart— “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. “… whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” I also shared the Word of God through teaching Sunday school and Bible study.

I acknowledged my call to ministry and mission and preached my first sermon, among many, in 1987 for young teen girls. It was the same year of preaching the first sermon that I served on an evangelism team as a leader to 40 teenagers in the Petén Jungle of Guatemala. My primary functions were to prepare and cook meals, teach Bible study, and counsel the youth. The team’s primary assignment was to build an airplane hangar and a staff house for the missionaries and teach scriptures to the 40 orphans at the mission, El Rancho de Los Niños.

In March of 1988, I married the love of my life, Tony. Since then, we have enjoyed serving God, the first love of our lives. Many times, when you see one, you see the other. Other times Tony sings in his tenor voice with our current church choir. Moreover, sometimes you see us both teaching the Word of God together.

While I desire to help build godly principles in the lives of Christians, Tony finds joy in teaching the Bible’s prophetical books and how they impact our lives. Tony began singing at age three with the Little Harmonettes at St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church in Turners Station. At age 15, he and a childhood friend, Glen, cut a 45-record called “Talking About.” As an adult, he was a tenor voice with the Maryland State Boys’ Choir and several church choirs. Under the direction of Tony, Latter Reign A Cappella Singing Group won several awards and sang at a presidential rally for former President Barack Obama. As a published cartoonist, Tony has taught cartooning to children at a local Christian school and a church group. His cartoons have appeared in the Maryland Pet Gazette, Johns Hopkins University student publications, Sunday school classes, and people’s homes as framed gifts given to loved ones.

I graduated from Wesley Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity in 2016.

Realizing that God brought us together 34 years ago, our mission is to honor our Lord and Savior throughout the years we receive. So far, serving as Dean of Adult Education at a Pentecostal Church, as a director and acting principal at a Christian elementary school, and as a spiritual leader in the United Methodist Church, we have received rich blessings. Beginning in 2019, God has blessed me with the extraordinary opportunity to pastor at West Montgomery United Methodist. We serve a great big God in the tiny town of Dickerson, Maryland. Tony and I come as a package deal and are honored to serve.

Video of the month – Sunday School with Pernel Jones Jr. Lesson: Miracles on Mala Acts 28:1-10

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Please send us your religious leader’s information, so we can highlight them for the month. Please send a 250-word BIO and a headshot of your pastor. We want to hear from you!

Quote of the Month

“Giving. What flows away from you flows back magnified: Become a joyful giver.”

― Mike Todd

Our Faith leader for the month of September – Dr. Jermaine N. Johnson

Dr. Jermaine N. Johnson is a native of Baltimore, MD where he attended various public and private schools.  Dr. Johnson matriculated at Eastern University in Saint David’s, Pennsylvania where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in the field of Communication.  Dr. Johnson earned his Masters of Divinity from the Northern Baptist Theological Seminary located in Lombard, IL.  Dr. Johnson received the Ian Chapman Leadership Award for outstanding student leadership.

Dr. Johnson earned his Doctor of Ministry Degree from the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC.  Dr. Johnson is a 2013-14 Lewis Fellow Alumni of the Wesley Theological Seminary located in Washington, D.C. 

Dr. Johnson was licensed to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in July of 1998 at the First Mount Carmel Christian Community Church in Baltimore, Maryland and in August of 2003, Dr. Johnson was ordained.

In October of 2014, Dr. Johnson released his first book along with a workbook entitled, “The New Wine Experience” A Leadership Model of Church Planting in the African American Context of Ministry.”  In December of 2015, Dr. Johnson released his sophomore book entitled, “Back to the Basics: The ABC’s of Leadership.”  Dr. Johnson’s most recent publication is “The New Wine Experience:  A 21 Day Devotional.”