Miami Gardens ministry teaches financial literacy

admin | 7/12/2012, 5:30 a.m.

The mission of El Bethel Temple Outreach Ministries is simple, according to the Miami Gardens church's senior pastor, Rev. Raymond Baker. Our mission is to bring people from merely being religious to having a real relationship with God, he explained. Being religious is just following a bunch of rules and regulations. But having a relationship teaches you to connect to God and then God presses upon your heart what is wrong and what is right, he explained. To accomplish that goal, the church focuses upon education, emphasizes health and wellness and helping people build healthy relationships. Those are the areas that people struggle with the most, Baker explained. We teach it all from a standpoint that these were the things that [took you away] from Jesus Christ and we need to remove these obstacles to reconnect you to Jesus Christ. Baker, who at 32-years-old is a motivational speaker and a banker, also emphasizes the importance of financial literacy. The Bible says man doesnt owe man anything except to love one another, explained Baker, referring to the importance of not being in debt. So, I tell my congregation to pay your bills, dont give all your money to me. After serving as senior pastor for the last five years, Baker believes the church will focus and expand upon its original mission in the future. He explained further,I see us continuing to build healthy relationships and thats where were going to do more community involvement and even offer relationship workshops. The beginning of a ministry The vision for the church has not changed since it was founded nearly three decades ago, according to Baker. The 28 year old church was organized by his grandmother, Dr. Deatrice J. Ealey. His uncle preached the first sermon to the fledgling church as an estimated 15 people sat in the kitchen of a private home. Since then, those handful of worshippers have grown to over 90 to 100 attendants every week, according to Baker. After his grandmother died in 2007 at the age of 75, Baker was installed as the senior pastor within the same year at the age of 27. It was a lot of responsibility for a young minister, he says he was ready to handle it. I was raised in the ministry, said Baker, who gave his first trail sermon when he was 14 years old. I knew the call was on my life from a young age. In grade school, Baker would attempt activities such as smoking or skipping school the usual teenaged antics like his peers participated in, but he found he was unable to find true pleasure in these activities. I would try it, but it just wouldnt feel right, he explained. Not that Im perfect, but I always had a repentant heart that led me back to God. By Kaila Heardkheard@miamitimesonline.com