PHILADELPHIA (BRN) – For 61 years, Ezekiel Baptist Church has ministered to the southwest section of Philadelphia. In those years, the church has had only two pastors – the late Rev. Paul McCoy and current pastor and BRN Executive Board President Dr. Brain King, Sr.
King has been pastoring the predominately African American community for 30 years, previously serving six years under the instruction of McCoy.
“I saw the love that my predecessor, the late Rev. Paul McCoy, had for the church and when it became apparent to me that they were going to call me to be their next pastor, the second thing after asking for wisdom that I asked God for was the same type of love that Rev. McCoy had for the church,” said King.
By “God’s grace” and “for His glory,” Dr. King has been able to love the Ezekiel Baptist Church family through some very significant times in the church’s history, including when they relocated in 2000.
“When I scouted out the new area we were moving into, it became apparent to me that there was no strong evangelical or church presence in the neighborhood we were moving into. So, I knew that moving over there we would be the light and we would have to play a major role,” said King.
Although excited about the number of outreach opportunities, King quickly realized that Ezekiel was not “structured” to do ministry on that level.
In June, he quickly turned to prayer, asking God how he should prepare the people of Ezekiel for the move. King felt the Lord say, “Wait until August.”
As July rolled around, King started to feel the pressure of preparing his church. So, he asked God again, “How do I prepare the church to move?” Again, he felt the Lord say, “Wait until August.”
Then, at the end of August, he received a phone call.
On the other end of the call was one of King’s pastor friends, who was also a part of the convention. The familiar voice asked King if he would like to go to Nashville, Tennessee, to evaluate an organization there – an organization that King later came to know as Lifeway.
“It (Lifeway) allowed me to see all the resources I needed to help build my church,” said King.
At the time, Lifeway still offered its annual Black Church Leadership and Family Conference, which Ezekiel ended up attending for eight years straight.
“We would go down there and expose the congregation to what ministry really is supposed to be like, and the conference allowed them to learn. They had breakout sessions for Christian Ed., breakout sessions for secretaries [and] breakout sessions for different ministries. It was just a conglomeration of how to build your church,” explained King.
Lifeway’s resources were just one of the many ways the Cooperative Program (CP) aided Ezekiel during King’s early years of pastoring the church.
The CP also came alongside Ezekiel when they moved into their new building.
“When we moved into our building, we had two areas that had not yet been completed because we ran out of money, because of unexpected costs in construction,” said King.
Through funds given to the Cooperative Program, a mission team from Alabama was able to assist Ezekiel in the completion of their building, saving the church nearly $200,000 in construction costs.
Additionally, the CP has helped King forge valuable connections and personal relationships with those a part of the Baptist Resource Network (BRN) and the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
“I’ve had so many wonderful connections with Dave Waltz, Stan Smith and, obviously, Barry (Whitworth), [and] forged great relationships, working relationships,” said King.
Having these relationships were especially influential during King’s early years at Ezekiel, as he navigated challenging conversations with his congregation about the SBC.
“They (church members) really weren’t familiar with Southern Baptists, other than some of the negative things as far as, you know, the racism and the supporting of slavery. What they really didn’t know and understand [is], in a way, Southern Baptists had acknowledged their sin in that.”
King continued: “I never, personally, felt any type of discrimination within the convention, I know it’s there, but I’ve personally never felt it. I’ve been embraced by Dave Waltz, Stan Smith, Barry (Whitworth) [and] embraced on Guidestone’s board.”
Through these established relationships and collaborative efforts, King and his church have witnessed the Cooperative Program contribute to the Kingdom work they are doing in Philadelphia, despite larger institutional challenges.
“I know it’s very challenging for many African American churches – not even African American churches, but now Anglo churches – [but] in spite of the challenges and issues our convention is facing, I think we need to look at the larger picture of what we’re trying to do,” said King.
He defined the larger picture of the CP as coming “alongside the local church to help them fulfill the mission and vision God has given them,” something King can attest to from his years at Ezekiel.
“Whatever Ezekiel has needed the Cooperative Program, through BRN as well as nationally, has helped us…[and] we’re part of the Cooperative Program to build God’s Kingdom.”
Hear more about how your cooperative giving is impacting Dr. Brian King and the Ezekiel Church family in this month’s episode of Celebrating Cooperative Missions (This podcast is also available on Spotify, Apple, Google, and Amazon Music):