and and Askia Muhammad

Reverend Willie Wilson celebrates 37 years of faith in action

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan speaks at Union Temple Baptist Church April 25 on the occasion of the 37th Pastoral Anniversary of Rev. Willie Wilson (seated). Photos: Mikal Veale

WASHINGTON, D.C. ( – “I had 800 members the first time Minister Farrakhan spoke at Union Temple in 1977. After he spoke we had less than half,” said Rev. Willie Wilson at his 37th anniversary, April 25.

“Because they thought God was going to strike me dead, I did it again the next year and the next year and the next year. When you know who you are, you’re not afraid of who someone else is,” said Rev. Wilson.


That’s the story of the strong bond of brotherhood that exists between Rev. Willie Wilson, pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. It’s a story full of service, love and a strong faith in God that unites them despite the differences in devotion.

Rev. Wilson introduced Minister Farrakhan as a man anointed by God. He explained that he told Minister Farrakhan 33 years ago, “Brother, I will be with you forever. He didn’t answer. He was shocked,” he said.

“There has been a commitment. If you don’t know what commitment means, it means nothing can happen that is big enough to separate us. He’s been reviled, rebuked and talked about as sure as you’re born. But he remains undaunted in the face of every wicked attack.”

In what has become an annual tradition, Minister Farrakhan delivered the Sunday morning sermon to the members of Union Temple Baptist Church and those from the metropolitan D.C. area who visited the church on that day.

The Minister was welcomed with a standing ovation as he arrived at the podium.

“The beauty of this morning is a sign of the future,” he said looking around at the audience filled with Muslims, Christians, Hebrews, Jews, atheists and agnostics.

“The beauty is we are all together in one place. Even though we appear different. There is a spirit that binds us,” Min. Farrakhan said.

The audience was spellbound by the Minster’s words detailing the divine place Black people have with God and their duty to respond.

“You don’t want to believe the Bible is talking about you from Genesis to Revelation … it’s a plan for your salvation,” he said. “You are a foolish people but yet His choice. A wicked people, but yet His choice. God would not have given His commandments if the people were good. He chose them out of the furnace of affliction.”

The audience was captivated by Min. Farrakhan’s message.

“Could it be that God wants to bring you to a higher ground?” he asked. “He’s disturbing you now. He’s disturbing your grave because you’ve been dead so long. You have forsaken God even though you praise Him. That’s the easy part. The difficult thing is will you surrender, will you sacrifice yourself and say yes?”

His message was affirmed with shouts of “Yes Sir” and “Hallelujah!”

Dr. Julianne Malveaux, president of Bennett College for Women, told The Final Call, “Minister Farrakhan always brings it. He inspires us to do better. He forces us to look at ourselves. He talks about the frailties of America, but how those frailties are connected to our own frailties. I think it was a wonderful, inspirational time. I wouldn’t have missed it.”

As happy as the Minister was to be there, he reflected on the veritable prison that has been created for him by those who control the media and shape the views of many. The misperception of who Min. Farrakhan is has also made some hesitant to bring him in as a speaker.

“Do you know how bad it feels when you love your people but the enemy has painted you in such a light that your own people hate you without a cause?’ For 54 years I’ve given to the rise of the Black man and woman. What have I done?” he asked rhetorically. “I will not bow down to the powers that be. I can’t teach in Black colleges any more. I don’t get invited. What crime have I committed?”

“You can walk with a Jew but you can’t walk with me. I believe in Jesus but they don’t. Is it because they have money?” he asked. “It’s a sick teaching that make us get along better with our oppressors.”

Rev. Michael Jenkins, American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC), founded by the Rev. and Mother Sun Myung Moon, told The Final Call, “The Honorable Minister is bringing us God’s Word with love in such a way, to awaken the people of God that we are in the greatest time of tribulation that was prophesied in all the scriptures, and that the only way we are going to see ourselves come out of the darkness into the light is not by attaching ourselves to leaders in government, or leaders in the secular world, or leaders who promise us jobs, or promise us benefits.”

The Minister recognized the presence of former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry and now Ward 8 member of the City Council and his former wife Cora Masters Barry. The Minister talked about the pressure that Mr. Barry came under when he opened the city up to him for the Million Man March.

“I’m glad the Minister acknowledged it. Absolutely, I opened the city up, the city government. There were no trucks, no vehicles. I assigned Sam Jordan to be our coordinator, and we opened the city up. We had the sanitation department clean up after the Million Man March–the little bit of trash that was there. We told the police, not to be rude and be crazy that day … we were all coming together. ‘Don’t be scared of these two million men.’ And I’m glad God put me in that place in time to do that.”

Cora Masters Barry, also founder of the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center said, “I think this is something really, quite frankly it’s very poignant, because it’s not only bringing back together the brothers in Our Lord, Jesus Christ–Minister Farrakhan and Rev. Wilson–but Dr. (Dorothy) Height is smiling.”

Jeffrey Banks, vice chair of the Board of Directors of The Historic Lincoln Theatre, summed up the morning: “This was a powerful message, whose time has come. It’s time for the community to wake up, really get busy and go to work. It’s a lot of work for us to do.”