Posted: 12:00 a.m. Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Behind the Scenes: Dayton

St. Luke pastor retiring after 45 years

Celebrations in July will honor the Rev. Walker.


St. Luke pastor retiring after 45 years photo
The Rev. Sylvester Walker to leave St Luke Missionary Baptist Church after 45 years as pastor.

By Virginia Burroughs

Contributing Writer

After 45 years in the St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church pulpit, the Rev. Sylvester Walker is retiring. Although he won’t leave his duties until October, celebrations are planned in July and, after a vacation, the Rev. Walker says, “We’ll be going through a period of transition, a process to help members select a new pastor.”

The Rev. Walker, 81, said that, during his pastorate at St. Luke’s, “I’ve seen young people grow up, go off to college, get married and have families that I’ve blessed.

“One of the high points was seeing our new church at 2662 N. Gettysburg Ave. built from the ground up. It gave us the capacity for a lot of our ministries,” he said. The new facility allowed the church to offer a youth ministry, special programming and a thrift shop to meet the needs of the community.

He said, “We started a mission ministry to take the worship experience to nursing homes, an abbreviated health ministry and a ‘lunch and learn’ where people come in, eat and talk about subjects plaguing the black community. We try to be involved and deal with issues brought up, like drugs, battered wives, unemployment and shootings. These are difficult and ongoing issues, but we try to educate our youth and members, and interact to help our community deal with such things.”

Celebrations for Walker will be held July 18-20. A dinner banquet will be July 18 at the Mandalay Banquet Center at 7 p.m.; a celebration with family, church members, friends and community will take place at the church beginning at 4 p.m. July 19; on Sunday, July 20, there will be two church services. Those interested can contact the church office at 937-279-9322 for reservations and more information.

After the celebratory weekend, Walker and his wife, Janie, will leave on a month’s vacation before the transition period. “Our members aren’t used to the process of finding a new pastor, since there have only been two in this church’s 85-year history,” said Walker. “I don’t want to get in the way of the new pastor, or have members making comparisons. Members have to form a search committee, then allow the new person to develop their own ministry for a new era.”

The Rev. Walker will also be going through a transition. “All my work has been spent at this church; I want to travel, do some writing, be available for counseling — but pastoring is my passion.”


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