WASHINGTON, D.C.(FinalCall.com)–The pomp and circumstance of Union Temple Baptist Church’s week-long celebration of the 30th anniversary of their community activist pastor, Rev. Willie Wilson, featured guest speakers every night and a gala banquet hosted by Iyanla Vanzant with music by gospel star Yolanda Adams.
For many though, the highlight was the continuing relationship of Rev. Wilson and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan who delivered the Sunday message on May 4.
“You know, I’m almost speechless. I think the most important thing is the prophetic coming together of Rev. Wilson and Min. Farrakhan. The journey they have traveled separately but together and how it unites the people. A lot of people have been empowered, just because they’ve lived. That’s what this is a testimonial to,” said former D.C. first lady Cora Masters Barry.
The strength of Rev. Wilson’s ministry is much more than just your average neighborhood Baptist church. In 1977 when very few Blacks, let alone pastors, were listening to Min. Farrakhan, Rev. Wilson invited him into his church to preach. That was the beginning of a long-standing friendship and fellowship.
The Muslim minister became a frequent speaker and welcomed as a brother in faith by the congregation. He told the standing room only audience May 4 that Rev. Wilson has never been afraid to give his members a wide range of religious thought and practice.
The relationship between the spiritual leaders has been a magnet for Christians, as well as Muslims.
“It was one of the most spiritually moving experiences that I have had. This week has been spirit-filled, but today, to see the reaction of Brother Minister Farrakhan, and then Rev. Wilson at the very end … to see him grieve about the conditions that we face in this country and throughout the world,” said Dr. Alice Gullatee, a psychiatrist at Howard University Hospital and a 23-year member of Union Temple.
“It was just magnificent–all in the celebration of someone who has spent 30 years of his life, doing what he felt he had to do, by being a preacher in the Christian church. It was both a moving experience and a very spiritually invigorating experience.”
The relationship between the two men of God over time has produced members for Union Temple such as Brenda Brown who introduced the Minister. “I am a member of Union Temple as a direct result of hearing Minister Farrakhan here 10 years ago,” she said.
It also produced members for Muhammad Mosque #4 such as Anthony Muhammad, who was a member at Union Temple with his mother and sisters. He heard Min. Farrakhan speak at the church in 1979 and went searching for the mosque.
“I heard Min. Farrakhan and that was it for me. I knew I wanted to be a Muslim and help him in his work,” said Mr. Muhammad.
The bond between Rev. Wilson and Min. Farrakhan was further solidified with the Million Man March in 1995. Min. Farrakhan asked Rev. Wilson to co-chair the local organizing efforts in D.C. Those efforts produced publicity, resources and hundreds of thousands of men and women dedicated to making the march a success.
The work of Rev. Wilson has produced over 50 ministries and programs affecting every aspect of life for his congregation. The programs include womanhood and manhood training, and an HIV/AIDS program that provides professional services for persons living with HIV/AIDS.
“Today after 30 years, we see the evidence of someone that is truly following the life of Jesus Christ,” said Min. Farrakhan.
Rev. Wilson’s work has also extended beyond the borders of America. He was ordained Nana Kwadwo Boafo I, a Wolof Priest in the Gambia, West Africa. He is as much at home in Southeast, D.C. as he is in West Ghana where he was installed as a sub-chief by the Asankare-Bretuo in Asankrangwa.
For 30 years he has propagated and nurtured a Christo-centri, Afro-centric, Afro-sensitive, Weltan-schauung ministry that simply says: “It’s a Family Affair.”
He is joined in his work by his soul mate and wife Rev. Mary Wilson, who is his co-pastor. They have raised four of their own children and have opened their hearts and home to many others.
Rev. Wilson’s work is the testament of countless men, women and children whose lives have been changed and transformed by his ministry. He has received numerous citations, certificates and recognitions including being named by USA Today newspaper as one of the 10 most valuable people in America, and receiving the President’s Service Award signed by former President Bill Clinton.
He has blazed a trail in Christianity, being one of the first churches to have a picture of Jesus reflected as a Black man. He also has a mural on the wall of great Black leaders that includes Mary McLeod Bethune and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
Thirty years ago, step teams and praise dancers were unheard of in the church, but not Union Temple. Their choirs have received national acclaim and moved the audience to spiritual fervor May 4.
“I am very impressed with what I’ve seen,” said Min. Farrakhan who was moved to tears. “Pardon my tears. I’m very touched this morning because I know what brought us here. I rejoice in the spirit of your song.”
People were also moved by Min. Farrakhan’s words. “All we have to do is do what the Minister said, which is put on our armor. Put on our helmets. Gird ourselves up, because there is so much work to be done. But God has already demonstrated that the victory is ours. All we have to do is have the faith and the obedience, and go forward, pick up our cross. The victory is ours,” said Union Temple member Don Edwards.