Local Pastors and Elected Officials Save North Oakland Missionary Baptist Church
By Carla Thomas
The plea to save a 118-year-old historic church was answered when local pastors and the offices of elected officials joined together on Monday morning February 6, outside of the North Oakland Missionary Baptist Church.
With donations from the pastors and interventions from elected officials the future of NOMBC is no longer in question.
By Thursday, March 10 the crisis was abated with the back and current taxes being paid in full. The local West Oakland faith community, The Interfaith Council of Alameda County (ICAC), Central Hills East Oakland Congregations, Statewide Baptist Association, and community members had all answered the call for help.
Post News Group Publisher Paul Cobb had rallied the group saying, “We cannot lose another church and we’re here today to support Pastor Rutledge and save a church that has been crucial to the community as a spiritual home, a feeder of the homeless, and supplier of 56 units of senior housing,” said Cobb. “I’ve also received calls from other churches in need of assistance.”
NOMBC Pastor Sylvester Rutledge who has pastored the church for 30 years, was grateful and more than happy to spend time with the group of supporters.
“Sometimes we’re humbled so we can learn and help each other,” said Rutledge whose church was scheduled to be auctioned on March 17 due to a $43,000 tax bill owed to Alameda County. “And, more importantly our calling is to serve each other, save the souls of men, practice the word of God, and protect the word of God.”
Rutledge also said the church hosted the first Colored Baptist Convention in the area.
“I thank God and am proud to announce that the faith community has established a Rainy Day Fund for the North Oakland Baptist Church,” said Pastor Ken Chambers of Westside Missionary Baptist Church and founding president of ICAC. “Dr. Sylvester Rutledge has helped the community all his life. Now, during his time of need, the community stepped up without hesitation to help an honorable man of God and save the house of the Lord.”
Pastors and leaders supporting Rutledge and NOMBC included Rev. Ray Williams, Morning Star Baptist Church; Pastor Vince Collins, King Solomon Christian Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church; Thomson Mathews, Corinthian Baptist Church; Pastor Mary McConn Gilmore, Oakland Community Chaplaincy Program – Westside Baptist Church; Pastor Rutledge, Dr. Maritony Yamot, Maritony and Associates – Life Impact for Humanity; Pastor Ken Chambers, president of Interfaith Council of Alameda County — Westside Baptist Church; Bip Roberts, The Well Christian Community Church; and Brett Badelle, deputy district director, Office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
Additional supporters included, Tim Hopkins, Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church; Thomas Harris, Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church; Vince Steele, Office of Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson; Pastor Raymond Lankford, Oakland Community Church – Oakland Private Industry Council; Darryl Stewart, Office of Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley; Elder Jay D. Pimentel, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; Pastor Gerald Agee, Friendship Christian Center, and Pastor Donald Scurry, Joshua Christian Church.
“We have been working diligently to have the situation resolved and hope to have the church removed from the auction list this week,” said Steele.
“Pastor Rutledge is a God-sent man,” said Pastor Vince Collins. “He is a pastor that has helped many pastors.”
“Churches are such an important fabric of the community, so we stand in solidarity for this church and all churches,” said Elder Jay D. Pimentel.
For Pastor Raymond Lankford, NOMBC and Pastor Rutledge have been community staples for decades.
Rev. Ray Williams of Morning Star Baptist Church, just around the corner from NOMBC, said he got the first call from Pastor Rutledge. “Our churches are neighbors with history and me, Pastor Rutledge and Paul Cobb were a part of the Citizen Emergency Relief Team (CERT) after the Loma Prieta Earthquake.”
“We want to make sure places of worship are sustained,” said Bip Roberts of The Uncuffed Project and The Well Community Church.
Rep. Barbara Lee’s staff member Brett Badelle said “The Congresswoman is a big supporter of the church.”
Dr. Maritony Yamot plans to help coordinate the group’s efforts to help churches avoid crise crises in the future. ‘I will work with the interfaith leaders to develop a crisis prevention plan for churches,” she said.
“We’re all in this together as the body of Christ and we’re here to make a difference,” said Pastor Donald Scurry.
Pastor Mary McConn Gilmore said Pastor Rutledge conducted her father’s memorial service last year. Pastor Rutledge has been there for so many of us and the community, so we’re happy to support him,” said Gilmore.
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