The church sanctuary was packed. There was about five hundred people in there.
The aisles were lined with metal fold-able chairs. There was not an extra seat even in the overflow room.
The choir was singing one of the popular gospel songs about the power of God over any situation. The director, Terry Smith, flamboyantly directed the choir with power.
While the choir sang pastor Harold looked throughout the congregation. His eyes locked with Deacon Barry who had a devious grin on his face that caused Pastor Harold’s blood to boil.
Pastor Harold thought about the plan that Deacon Barry had given to him. The plan was for him to say that he is stepping down and then next week he would announce Dwayne Dexter as his successor.
Pastor Harold gazed at Dwayne Dexter as the choir continued to sing. Harold believed Dexter to be the least fit person on his ministerial staff to be the senior pastor. Dex had just come back from a preaching tour where he simply brought down the house at every stop. At least that is what Pastor Harold had heard. Dex looked over at pastor Harold and smiled with a knowing grin.
The senior pastor looked at his wife, Janet Harold. The fifty year old elegant looking woman seemed much less attractive as she was staring at some 25 year old congregant. Pastor Harold thought that this guy must be her flavor of the month. He looked out at the congregation and could see a few of his conquests. He realized that the church he founded was a group that looked like anything but the kingdom of God. A tear emerged from his left eye.
The pastor knew that he was innocent of any involvement with Terry. He also knew that he was not the leader that he should have been. The church looked to him for guidance and he had given them everything but that.
He looked at his son Carter Luther Harold III who everyone called Trey. He was seated right next to him. Trey smiled at his father. He wasn’t the flashiest preacher, but he tried to do what was right.
Trey seeing his father starting to tear up he touched him, “Pops, are you all right?”
Trey had been waiting to take over the church for the last few years. He had gone to seminary and now was poised to become the pastor. But now somebody else was going to take it. His son Trey had stayed true to the church and now the older minister was about to give the church to another. One who was not worthy. One who was just like he was. The realities hit him hard.
“I’m all right son.” Pastor Harold said while patting his son’s knee like he used to when Trey was a little child.
The choir ended their song and then Pastor Harold took the lectern and began preaching. He decided to preach about Moses not being able to go into the Promised Land.
He preached heavily as if his life dependent on it. He opened his green and black robe, but he was still sweating profusely.
Pastor Harold closed his sermon by preaching the people into a frenzy. The three ministers who were seated behind him, Trey, Dwayne Dexter, and Earl Ellington, the intern, stood up behind Pastor Harold yelling and waving the preacher on.
The sermon ended with the preacher taking his seat, but the congregation was still pumped up. “Yes Lawd,” “Praise Him,” and “Amen’s” were still peppered throughout the congregation. You know the Spirit showed up when Sister Kyle did her Spirit-filled jog round the church and Brother Been did his holy dance.
Terry Smith mounted the organ as he was about to whip the people back into the frenzy that was starting to die down when Pastor Harold stood up at the mic, “My brothers and sisters, I must make an announcement.”
The congregation was still pumped, but Pastor Harold raised his hands and asked for the people to quiet down. The congregation slowly began to come down from the worship high. “Brothers and Sisters, just a moment.” Pastor Harold said raising his voice a bit more as the congregation slowly quieted down.
Deacon Barry smiled. He must have thought everything was going according to the plan.
“I am not sure how to say this, so I will just say it.”
“Say it…go head and say it.” A congregant said with encouragement.
Reverend Harold’s eyes began to get misty as he fought back the tears that invaded his eyes, he then pushed the words out, “Nothing lasts forever, but God and God’s church.”
“It has been a great run. Twenty five years as the pastor of the greatest church in the country. My wife and I have seen this church grow from 20 to what it is now.”
There were some gasps in the congregation as more people began to anticipate what was coming.
Deacon Barry then began to smile as did Reverend Dexter.
“Effective at the next Church Business meeting, I will step down as the senior pastor of this church. It is time.” Then a hush circulated throughout the congregation which slowly turned to almost a grumble. It appeared that no one anticipated this declaration and the vast majority were upset by it.
Behind him stood with large eyes was Earl Ellington, the intern from Clayton Divinity School who had worked with Reverend Harold Jr. for two years and was hoping to get a staff position at the church when he graduated.
Next to Earl was Reverend Dwayne Dexter, the associate pastor. His face immediately brightened up. It looked like he was trying to hold in a smile. And then there was Trey who had a confused and surprised look on his face.
“When I started this church twenty five years ago who knew that I would still be here. But now, I need to move on. And I hope that you will help me make the transfer an easy one.”
It was still quiet. Pastor Harold raised his voice and repeated as if to call for a response from the congregation. “And I hope you will help me make the transfer an easy one.”
There was almost a unison of “amen” from the congregation.
“Now, in the church by laws, the pastor must officially name a successor at a properly called business meeting. The next one is next week. On that day, I will name the one who will take my place.”
“Now I had in mind to do something, but I think that we need a change. As you all know, I haven’t been the best man at all times that I should have been. I hope you can forgive my misdeeds.”
There was clapping in the congregation, “oh yes.” “yes…” was heard throughout the congregation.
“But the man I am going to choose is a better man than I have been. He has learned from my mistakes and he has been by my side over the years.”
Shock was still on Minister Earl Ellington’s face, but Reverend Dwayne Dexter’s face went from joyous to anger as things didn’t seem to be going as planned. He looked over to Deacon Barry. Deacon Barry was looking and shaking his head to Reverend Dexter.
Deacon Barry just looked at Reverend Dexter with his mouth opened as he was taken totally by surprise like most of the congregation appeared to be.
“I have known him for most of his life and you have known him ever since he was a little boy running around this place.”
Janet Harold, the first lady of the congregation was sitting in the front pew with her patented large red hat. She had a confused look on her face as pastor Harold didn’t tell her what was going to happen. Lady Janet didn’t want to lose her position as first lady, even if it meant that the pastorate would pass to her son. Seated next to Lady Janet was Beverly Harold, Trey’s wife. She had a huge smile on her face. She and the rest of the congregation appeared to see what was coming next.
“My brothers and sisters I would like to present to you, the next pastor of this church, the Reverend Carter Luther Harold, the third. Ladies and Gentleman, Trey.” The elder preacher lovingly referred to his son with his nickname.
Many in the church stood and cheered, but a few sat and some with their hands crossed.
Trey who was seated behind his father as one of the ministers in the church stood up. He shook the minister’s hands who was up on the rostrum. First the younger ministerial intern from the school Earl Ellington. Earl smiled and enthusiastically shook his hand.
Then Dwayne Dexter, the minister who thought he would become the next pastor of the church. Trey put out his hand and Dwayne shook it lightly. Both men had a fake smile plastered on their face.
Trey walked up and embraced his father. His father sat down in the center seat and Trey began to speak. He fought back a few tears and said. “You don’t know how long I have waited for this.”
About half the congregation clapped. Beverly Dexter, Trey’s wife, was next to the first lady, Lady Janet however set there giving a polite clap.
“My father’s legacy will continue. The thing that brought you into this church will continue. I want you to know that I don’t take this lightly. God bless.”