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Pastor of the Week: Rev. Howard Siplin

admin | 2/1/2012, 7:30 a.m.

Coconut Grove church helps neighborhood just say no to drugs

For 70-year-old Howard Siplin, his progression into the ministry was unusually swift. In the span of three years, he became a member of the Beulah Missionary Baptist Church, was selected to be a deacon, then ordained as a minister and finally was chosen to be the pastor. It was a great transition, but I was prepared and Im still being prepared, he said. In this [church] business, I dont feel youre ever perfect. Youre always preparing and striving to do better. For the last eight years during which time hes led the church, now at about 110 members, Rev. Siplin has continued to expand his own education, particularly in the areas of psychology and human behavior. People are different but theyre very much the same the same individual can be one way today and theyll be another way tomorrow, he explained. But Ive learned that being in this position and with the spirit of God I have to keep loving them in spite of what they say and do. Loving other fellow human beings is one of the most important tasks for Christians but has even greater significance for those who serve as ministers, according to Siplin. Its my responsibility to love them because I have to teach them and if Im teaching them I have to exhibit myself as a true Christian to them. Beulah MBC reaches out to its members in various ways beyond Siplins weekly sermons. Popular ministries include the traditional ones like the deacon and deaconess ministries but newer ones like the dance and mime ministries continue to gain greater participation and acceptance. The 58-year-old church also attempts to address the issues of the surrounding neighborhood. At one time, the local area had become a high drug traffic zone. To combat the problem, Beulah joined with other churches that make up the Coconut Grove Ministers Alliance, and with funding from the University of Miami, posted signs throughout the community. Their message was simple: Drug Dealers Destroy Communities. They also included a direct number for the local police. We did it to make the people aware of what they can do when they see drug activity, Siplin explained. The decision to urge people to rely on the police came naturally as Siplin and his wife of 38 years both worked for and retired from the police department. Together, they were able to balance lives that included full time jobs, joint ownership of both a laundry mat and vending machine business and the raising of four children. Siplin says they guided their children on the right path through strict discipline. I worked nights and [my wife] worked days so that one of us always had time to be with the kids, he said. Now that theyre all adults, they know what theyre supposed to do. By Kaila Heardkheard@miamitimesonline.com