The Washington Post Talks to Rev. Maurice Watson, the New Pastor of D.C.’s Historic Metropolitan Baptist Church

The Rev. Maurice Watson plans to learn the church’s history and traditions while blazing a new path. (Courtesy of Metropolitan Baptist Church)
The Rev. Maurice Watson plans to learn the church’s history and traditions while blazing a new path. (Courtesy of Metropolitan Baptist Church)

The Rev. Maurice Watson is the sixth pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church, a 150-year-old congregation in the District that for decades has welcomed presidents, other politicians and iconic figures in the African American community.

Watson, 54, is a nationally known preacher in the Progressive National Baptist Convention, an institution that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. helped found decades ago. Watson is coming to the Washington area from Macon, Ga., where he was pastor of the Beulahland Bible Church.

Watson has a bachelor’s degree from Philander Smith College in Little Rock, where he was valedictorian. He has a master’s degree in theology from Creighton University in Omaha and a doctor of ministry from Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Ala.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Watson talks about the responsibility that comes with following the church’s legendary pastor, the Rev. H. Beecher Hicks Jr., and some of the challenges of trying to pull the church out of bankruptcy after the loss of its unfinished multimillion-dollar sanctuary in Largo, Md.

 

Talk about your faith journey and why you decided to come to Washington.

I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior at age 14. I was called to preach two years later when I was 16. I was ordained into the ministry by Mount Olive Baptist Church in North Little Rock when I was 18. I was called to pastor my first church, St. Mark Baptist Church in Little Rock, when I was 21. After pastoring there for seven years, I was called to pastor Salem Baptist Church in Omaha, and I served there for 15 years. Early in 2004 . . . I was called to Beulahland Bible Church in Macon.

I decided to accept the call to become the pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church in Washington because I believe it is what God has led me to do. My desire is to please God by serving this wonderful congregation at this critical time in her history.

Metropolitan has a great history. How do you plan to continue the legacy of the Rev. H. Beecher Hicks and his predecessors?

Whenever a new pastor goes to his new assignment, he should join the church’s culture and history. This means that the new pastor should learn the church’s history, customs, traditions and ministries. The pastor should also find out the church’s strengths and weaknesses. That is what I intend to do at Metropolitan. This is a church that has been in existence for 150 years. Therefore, I want to join that history and heritage, but I also intend to lead Metropolitan in a forward path to new ministry initiatives.

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Source: Washington Post | Hamil R. Harris