Kraig Lowell Pullam

My thoughts. My reflections. My journey…. On pastoring, preaching, leading & learning.

Archive for the month “February, 2014”

Three Years, and counting….

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This Sunday marks three years of pastoral service for me at the Mt. Salem Baptist Church of Victoria.  These few years have been a great time of growth, development, intensified joy, healing, maturity and clarity of my call.

When coming to Mt. Salem, I was in a strange place in ministry and in life.  The church I had founded in Pearland (Cornerstone Church) was fledgling with gradual growth.  Starting in 2005, my Cornerstone congregation, in mid-fall of 2010, made the decision to move our primary service to Saturday afternoons.  Looking back, this should have been more of a time of 1) prayerful searching and divine direction rather than a quest to be creative or relevant in a Houston suburb and 2) I should not have asked for a vote; but as the Founding Pastor, I should have made the decision (as was my instinct) to hold the course.

Needless to say, our beloved congregation made the decision to move to Saturdays beginning in November of 2010.  Within a few weeks, I was asked to preach for a congregation that 1) was a congregation in the association where my father serves as Moderator and 2) a congregation I had recommended they extend a call to one of my friends.  The minister in charge asked if I would be a candidate, to which I respectfully declined.  I had no intentions of either leaving my congregation and certainly no plans of pastoring there, to be honest.  The minister said, will I come and just preach.  I informed him that my plan was to be out of my own pulpit the weekend following Thanksgiving, and that would be the only time I could even consider coming.  To make a very long story very short, I preached that Sunday.  In a shear attempt to convey I had no intentions, to myself and I guess to God, that I would not be going there, I suppose I did at least two things to prove my own point.  For one, I didn’t bring my family!  My wife wanted to travel with me; and the boys would’ve loved the journey.  But I asked her and them to stay behind…so that no one would get any ideas.  Also, I preached a sermon out of Philippians 1:12-19 entitled, ‘Knocked Down but not Knocked Out!’  This congregation had been through quite a big storm, were shocked by it’s devastating effects, and it was very public and embarrassing, to say the least.  I was simply there (so I THOUGHT!) to give them a ‘pep talk’ – to let them know they could ‘fall forward’ and use the experience (without going into details regarding their experience) to their advantage, as Paul, to further the gospel.  Unfortunately….God moved and smiled on the message!  I was asked to come back in late December, as I recall; and then asked to serve as Pastor in January of 2011.  Both congregations knew that I would continue to serve both congregations (as crazy as that sounds).  After all, I would be doing a service at Cornerstone on Saturday, and at Mt. Salem on Sundays.

Two things happened.

First, I am unfortunately, very focused and loyal.  Therefore, it became a challenge for me to divide my time and stretch to the level of leading two different congregations.  While some Pastors do it, I felt like I was cheating on one for the other.  Second, we were discovering the ‘Saturday thing’, even prior to my being called to Mt. Salem, just wasn’t going to work; especially as the primary worship experience.

Maybe you can see my new dilemma and ordeal.  I am now at a new congregation with whom I’ve made a commitment, preparing for an installation.  This new congregation has already been scathed by leadership.  On the other end of the spectrum, I have my ‘baby’ whom I love; and it has proved more effective to move back to Sundays.  Yes….hindsight says, ‘Well, why did you even say yes to the new church?  Didn’t you think you all would go back to Sundays, at some point?’  Yes, in hindsight….

What in the WORLD am I about to do?  It was one of the most difficult and trying times in my life.  But I knew, in my instinct, what I was going to do: I’M LEAVING MT. SALEM.  I had a letter written out to send to the oldest deacon in the church.  It was a letter addressed to him, Cephus Clifton, to inform him that I had a change of heart; and I would not be able to continue as Pastor-elect.  But….I never sent the letter.  For one, God never told me to send the letter.  And I couldn’t put on God that was a mere instinct driven by my own proclivities and desires.  In addition, I somehow felt in my heart that I couldn’t abandon the people of Mt. Salem.  So I prayed; and did what I felt was the right thing to do.  I prepared to transition our congregation with a new leader, who happened to be one of our associate ministers; and that I would attempt to teach to them during midweek services.

But many things, I reflect, made this move ineffectual.  First, for years, the people heard MY vision.  Even the man I was attempting to move to my role was adamant about my remaining there.  Another thing is that those who had bought into the vision, those whom I had baptized, wed, trained, etc. began to feel abandoned by their leader.  But I was resolute in keeping my word to the people of Mt. Salem and Victoria, at that point.  Eventually, after about a year, Cornerstone disbanded.  Even now, it hurts to even write that.

My wife and I have miscarried twice.  And I can say with all my being that hearing of Cornerstone shutting it’s doors felt the same and probably worse.  It hurt; and still hurts!

That being said, I am somehow convinced that God led Mt. Salem and I together as Pastor and People.  I lost my ‘baby’, but God has given me a ‘family’ in the people of Mt. Salem.  Sometimes I have gotten frustrated….there are so many differences between pastoring a church your founded and a congregation that is 140 plus years of age.

But amid all of the challenges, there have been some tremendous rewards.  I’ll never adequately describe the sorrows I’ve felt with my loss (especially as it happened the way I’ve described), but I will also never adequately explain the unusual joy and peace I’ve enjoyed in this new field.

I have no idea how God will continue to unfold either my story or the story of the great congregation of Mt. Salem, but I am committed to this work; and I will continue until God says, ‘Well done!’

Rev. Crawford W. Kimble

Rev. Crawford W. Kimble was a living legend.

I suspect that while many know of this greater preacher and man; Rev. Kimble was not on the list of many preacher’s top 10 outside of Houston and Texas. However, this does not diminish to profound impact of a giant in the faith. A few days ago, in his mid-nineties, this sage of a preacher, pastor and man, went home to rest in the arms of our Savior. Admittedly, I never had a personal relationship with Rev. Kimble. I would see him occasionally in a minister’s fellowship we both attended, exchange pleasantries, take care of him when he’d come to preach at my home church in Houston, and we had a few mutual acquaintances that he mentored in Houston. However, his biography, and moreover his writing, would have a profound effect upon me in my adult years. He joined the historic 4th Ward’s Good Hope Baptist Church in 1951, at the age of 25; later preaching his first sermon there at the age of 33. Five years later, in 1964, Rev. Kimble was elected the fifth pastor of the historic congregation where he began preaching. I read in one of his books how he had a dream to build a new church in a central location to better serve the needs of the membership among the people of Good Hope. Through perseverance and inspired leadership the “dream” was fulfilled as the church moved to its current location on March 22, 1981, off of Macgregor Way in Houston. In 1994, Rev. Kimble ended his pastorate at Good Hope, retiring there. I did not discover until a few days ago that, prior to his call to ministry, Rev. Kimble worked as a newspaper editor and writer for the Houston Informer and the Kansas City Call. I am sure this made an indelible impression on his continued writing throughout his life. I LOVED to read his stuff. One of my favorite writings of his is a funeral sermon he wrote out entitled, ‘A Theology of Nakedness’, from Job chapter 1. As I’ve reflected throughout the years and particularly the past several days, I thought about a few lessons this preacher taught me personally through his life and my encounters with him.

1. Be a friend to preachers and plant seeds

After graduating college in 2001, moving to Houston, starting seminary and take my first ministry job as the Minister of Education in Houston’s 5th Ward, my pastor suggested I become a part of the Houston Metropolitan’s Minister’s group that was led by Dr. S. J. Gilbert, Sr. I’m glad I did; and often regret having not continued in recent years. One of the unique things about this group is they would meet every Monday morning and afternoon and would pour into one another through preaching, teaching, talks, lectures, wisdom and the like. The standing lecturer for this group was Rev. Crawford W. Kimble. It didn’t take long for me to discover, after one of Rev. Kimble’s lectures, that this preacher was unique and skillful with words and thoughts. When I’d meet him (at that time already in his mid-eighties) I had to reintroduce myself to him. Without hearing much of my family connections, pastor, positions, etcetera….Rev. Kimble would invite me to walk with him to his car and throw me one of his books. Those books have blessed me tremendously through the years.

2. Don’t think too highly of yourself

Rev. Kimble was one of the most humble and down-to-earth preachers I’d ever met. You would never know he once pastored what was once known as the ‘silk stocking’ black church in Houston; and the legendary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan’s pastor, personal friend and spiritual advisor.

3. Find a way to dance in the rain

I found it refreshing and uplifting how, when Rev. Kimble lectured to us ministers, he would always find a way to take his weakening vision, old age, lack of technological savvy and his lack of swift adjustment to the cultural times – and use them to bring laughter and joy to others. It is simply a reminder that we should all seek to make the best of a bad situation.

4. Know when it’s time to let go and keep going

Largely within the black community, it was an unwritten rule among pastors is they do not and will not retire. I think somewhere they connected this to Moses disappearing one day; and because the word ‘retire’ does not appear in scripture, this became the foundational basis for the anti-retirement argument. But Rev. Kimble, amid the mantra of his peers, decided to retire from pastoring after serving for many years in ministry to the Good Hope Baptist Church. This is commendable on many fronts, while IT IS NOT & SHOULD NOT BE every Pastor’s lot.  I also know great servants who did not retire, or passed on prior to retirement being a reality for them.  It often depends on the charisma and influence of the said leader.  For it is also true, that the book of Proverbs says that it is much better to be asked to come up than to be asked to come down.

5. Sometimes less is more

Rev. Crawford W. Kimble was a very accomplished man, even by human standards. He was not a flashy dresser; and very plain in demeanor. I remember one day walking to Rev. Kimble’s car, and I said, ‘Dr. Kimble’, where is YOUR car? Is THIS it?’ The car was nothing more extravagant than the first car I drove in high school. However, he was not phased by fancy cars, sweet rides, shiny suits and looking the part.

6. Let the Holy Spirit guide you in ministry and in life

Rev. Kimble’s ministry was marked with the evidences of someone having followed the ordered, ordained and orchestrated steps of God. Even in his recent passing, he retired from preaching in mid-2013. He seemed to have an inner resolve to ‘walk in his own shoes.’

This man made an impact in his own way. He was a servant of God who made a difference.

Hello

comp7150This is my new blog site!

While I have been blogging for quite a few years now (check out my old   link!); I have always sought to blog like the bloggHeros in the bloggeSphere who blog every day and, in some instances, several times daily.  I’m trying this new portal and taking ‘baby steps’ with all of the new features and tools.  My goal is to one day blog EACH day but, for now, I am simply hoping to acquaint myself with WordPress, it’s many different looks, etc.  

I invite you to join me on this journey as I seek to clearly communicate and prayerfully journal my thoughts about life, scripture, the things I read beyond the scripture, pastoring, husbandry, fatherhood and anything else that chronicles my unique journey.  

In Romans 8:5-6 Paul says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”  In like manner, I hope to provide a platform that would ultimately furnish a spiritual outlook on my life’s journey that will, in turn, encourage you inyour own.

May God bless you as He gives you joy in the midst of your own journey.  Please visit here soon, and feel free to share your thoughts.

Blessings!

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