By Jackie Hampton,
The number forty is mentioned more than 146 times in Scripture and it is said that forty symbolizes a period of testing, trial or even probation. One would imagine that Dr. Jerry Young, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church and president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. and his wife Helen not only passed the 40-year test but also won the trial and endured the period of probation. They were honored with a surprise parade in front of their home April 26 at 3 p.m..
New Hope Baptist Church members formed a motorcade line at their Beasley Road church location and headed to the first family’s home with congratulatory signs, balloons and horns.
First Lady Helen Young, in a conversation with The Mississippi Link, stated even though she nor her husband were aware of a parade, their daughters Jerlen Canada and Kelli Hart were probably in on it and helped to orchestrate it. She recalled that she and Pastor Young were going outside, wearing their face masks, to greet a few members who called to say they were coming by to drop off a gift. Instead there were motorcycles and cars with horns blowing outside. She said the parade was top notch and when she awoke Monday morning she was still smiling.” They made it so special for us and we appreciate it,” she said.
Ethel Brashears, a deaconess at New Hope stated, “Pastor Young’s forty years at New Hope represents not only a career of the highest ethical standards but also one of genuine service to this congregation, community, state and country.” She said his love for the Lord is truly expressed in his walk.
Her husband Deacon Josephus Brashears recalled a bit of history. He said, “In the late 1970s as a member of the Deacon’s Ministry of New Hope Baptist Church, I had the privilege of serving on the pulpit committee to select a new pastor. We interviewed Rev. Young for the position. During the interview I was struck by his competency and humility. Forty years later he is still the same humble person in spite of his many accomplishments. The church was planning a great 40-year Anniversary program to celebrate and was very disappointed that it had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When we made the decision to celebrate Rev. Young & his family with a parade I was immensely pleased to participate.”
Audrey Wiley, a long time neighbor of Pastor Young heard and saw a lot of commotion in the neighborhood. “It was round 3 p.m. when I witnessed an out pouring love for Rev. and Mrs. Jerry Young. I estimated over 100 cars drove by their home.” She continued, “I have been a neighbor of the Young’s for over twenty-five years. Rev. Jerry Young is an outstanding theologian who knows the word, speaks the word, teaches the word, and he is a doer of the word. God has blessed Rev. Young to be the pastor of New Hope Baptist Church for 40 years and he is the same person today as he was 40 years ago. He has not changed because of his accomplishments, one of which being the president of the National Baptist Convention. Wiley said of First Lady Young: “She is humble and compassionate and she compliments her husband with her beautiful personality and smile and together they make a “beautiful bouquet” of God’s children.”
Jerlen said it was not hard to plan and execute a surprise parade. She said it was an impromptu suggestion by her sister Kelli made to Deacon Kenneth Wheatley who immediately agreed. Due to the pandemic of COVID-19, the year-long planning for the 40th anniversary had to be dismissed for health and safety reasons. There could be no luncheons, no Wednesday night service and no Sunday Service as had been planned.
Pastor Young said it was indeed a surprise. He said it was Jerlen’s suggestion that he change from his casual trousers and put on a tie and jacket because the chairman of the deacon board and others were going to stop by. He said, “We walked outside and lights were flashing, horns were blowing and vehicles were everywhere. “To be honest, Helen and I have had a lot of celebrations but this one was absolutely special and unique. It got to me.”
When asked to comment on streaming his Sunday services on-line, Pastor Young said it is not his cup of tea. “I am struggling through it. It’s hard preaching to an empty sanctuary. He said that it is difficult and mind-boggling. He admitted to receiving messages from individuals who said his messages are a blessing to them and to that he said, “To God Be the Glory.”
Pastor Young said New Hope Church is a wonderful church and has undoubtedly some of the most outstanding people he has ever met. “The quality of people at New Hope have made these 40 years go by with so much ease.”
He said the members are cooperative team players and for them to go through this whole ordeal of making their pastor’s anniversary so extraordinarily special is icing on the cake. He referred to his members as phenomenal people.
“I am so humbled to be a part of this church. It’s much better than I deserve.”