- Faith & Family
According to Rev. Paul West, 63, senior pastor of New Canaan Missionary Baptist Church (MBC), the Liberty City-based church has entered into a phase he refers to as “a new beginning.”
West originally received the call to preach in 1995 but was not licensed until April 2010. Since taking over as the pastor at New Canaan last year, the church has refocused its efforts on spiritual matters.
“To preach the gospel, save souls and spread the word of Jesus Christ to mankind was my goal,” he said. “No church is really pleasing God 100 percent until it gets the idea that it is every Christians’ business to do the work of the ministry. I preach a lot about what our purpose is and what God wants us to do.”
In his first year as a pastor, he has learned several lessons.
“You have a lot of challenges that come with pastoring because there are people who will be for you and those who will be against you,” he said. “So you have to have patience when you preach the word of God.”
With evangelism in mind, New Canaan MBC often invites other local ministries and churches to fellowship with them. And while he remains focused on addressing internal concerns of the church, West says he is painfully aware of issues facing the larger community, particularly rising unemployment and escalating murder rates. The Booker T. Washington Class of 1966 graduate says he can easily recall the better days his community has seen.
“Everybody knew everybody back then and they watched out for everybody else,” he said.
To attract the neighborhood’s girls to the sanctuary, West plans to establish a dance ministry in the upcoming year. For the boys, he believes more drastic measures — like a community-wide rally — will be necessary.
“We want to reach our young men in the community because somewhere down the line they’ve lost their focus,” he said. “With God’s help, we should be able to be a better people.”
Although his duties are many, West says he really enjoys the office of pastor.
“I can’t think of anything that I like least about it,” he said. “It is tiring but God gives me enough strength for it.”
In his free time, the widowed father of two adult children enjoys bowling and is a member of a league.
“Some people play golf to relax, I bowl,” he said.
New Canaan Missionary Baptist Church is located at 5598 NW 7th Avenue in Miami.
By Kaila Heard