- Faith & Family
Sometimes building a strong spiritual foundation means getting your hands dirty. Literally.
For Reverend W.J. Carpenter, one of the first official duties as the organizer of the Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church required him and the 12 other organizing members to clean a building that had fallen into disrepair by 1988 when they moved in.
“When we came in here it was some of everything in here from women’s panties to human feces,” he recalled of their current sanctuary.
He and the other members had to work for weeks before the facilities were serviceable.
“I was called a fool,” said the 68-year-old minister of his decision to move his ministry into the building. “Some people said I wouldn’t be here a month but we’re going on 24 years” . To outsiders, another reason to vacate the sanctuary was because it was located across the street from what Carpenter simply calls “Prostitute Lane” because of the amount of street walkers who use the avenue to pawn their bodies.
But the location was perfect for the mission of Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church.
“A lot of times we will never know why but that person are doing what they are doing, but he is still a human being,” he explained. “It’s our job to try to get them saved.”
A lot of the church’s activities included work for their Street Ministry and Feeding Ministry.
“A lot of it has been cleaned up, but there is still a lot of work to do,” he said.
Nowadays, the church continues to support such popular outreach ministries and regularly draws 70 to 120 people to its weekly worship services.
Many people who know the minister kindly say he’s “old school” and the label suits him fine, Carpenter says.
“I do believe in the scripture,” he explained.
His conservative views are especially apparent in his views on relationships.
“If God is not in it, then its not going to last,”said Carpenter, who has been married for 49 years to his high school sweet heart. “It’s very important to get to know each other, and if your values and your goals are different, I’m sorry, you’re going to have a problem.”
Yet once the vows are spoken, the bonds should be unbreakable. “Who He put together, let no one pulls asunder so I don’t believe in divorce unless you’re being abused.”
Carpenter also reveals a similar devotion to the calling of pastorship.
“You don’t retire from preaching and teaching the way I see it,” he said. “I’m a pastor as long as the Lord will allow me to.”
By Kaila Heard