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Preacher avoids world’s pitfalls in service to God

Rev. Kenneth L. Washington makes Miami hometown his pulpit

Gigi Tinsley | 10/24/2013, 9 a.m.
Pastor Kenneth L. Washington, a native of Miami, has been a part of the Greater Israel Bethel Primitive Baptist Church ...
Pastor Kenneth L. Washington

Pastor Kenneth L. Washington, a native of Miami, has been a part of the Greater Israel Bethel Primitive Baptist Church all of his life.

“I was born to the late Mae Francis Washington and Marvin DeShazior and my mother kept me in church," he said. "I grew up in Greater Israel under the leadership of Elder A.B. Ward and it’s always like being home to me. I preached my first sermon there on Aug. 3, 1978. I was 15 years old and I’ve been the pastor there for the last 15 years.”

He observes that growing up in Miami and staying out of trouble isn't easy for many young people.

"I learned early in life to be cautious with my social life," he said. "I ran track to stay out of trouble in elementary and middle school. In high school, I played a little junior varsity football.

But as far back as I can remember, music has been my passion.”

Beloved pastor knows how to listen

Because Washington loves music so much, when he graduated from Jackson Senior High School and enrolled at South Carolina State University, he knew that music would be his major.

“I play the piano, keyboard, organ, trumpet and percussions,” he said.

For the last 10 years, Washington has taught at Booker T. Washington (BTW) Senior High School, but has been an educator for the last 29 years in Miami-Dade County.

“I believe in the holistic approach with people,” he said. “I have two daughters: Shantoria, is a junior at the University of Florida and Shankeisha is a senior at BTW. Both are products of BTW.

Most people think that they should be miserable having me there all the time, but that isn’t the case.

They love having me there because I am not a snoop. I believe that parents should be parents and not friends to their children.

I teach them right from wrong and when they don’t follow the rules, they pay the consequences.”

The membership of Greater Israel is approximately 350 members and Washington’s goal for the church “is that they will become holistic towards their walk with the Lord.”

“I want members’ lives to be an example to others so that their lives will lead others to God,” he said.

Washington is the moderator of the East Coast Primitive Baptist Association and second vice-president of the Florida State Primitive Baptist Association.

He has four siblings: Earl Washington, a Miami-Dade aviation landside officer; Kenyatta DeShazior, a stage producer; Marvin Karonn DeShazior, a cook and Shelia DeShazior.

His wife, Greta, is an instructor at Douglas Elementary and “supports her husband in all of his efforts,” she said.