I have some news that I need to share with you.
For nearly 14 years, I have had the distinct privilege of serving as pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. As a third generation Black baptist preacher, it has been my dream from childhood to be a pastor…just like my father, my grandfather, uncles, aunts and other relatives. Pleasant Hope provided me the opportunity to live that dream. I fully expected to serve as a pastor for the rest of my life. That’s exactly what I’d seen in those who’ve gone before me. However, late last year, God began dropping hints to me that a transition was coming and eventually it became clear. After much prayer, fasting, and consulting with trusted mentors and family, I announced to my church in January that I would be stepping down as their pastor. My final day as pastor of Pleasant Hope will be Sunday, May 1, 2022.
This difficult decision has implications across the board of my life and though I am still feeling a swirl of emotions; what’s next for me is clear.
I am going to devote myself full-time to leading The Black Church Food Security Network. Since founding this organization in 2015, I have had to steward its development while at the same time remaining committed to my duties as pastor as well as Executive Director of an African-Centered youth program that I founded called Orita’s Cross Freedom School.
One of my mentees recently said, “Pastor Brown, you’re not even bi-vocational; you’re like quadvocational.” She’s right. But now, I finally get the chance to focus. It’s not easy leaving my church family (especially at a time like this!), however, I firmly believe that God has me in this position for such a time as this. With the mounting challenges of climate change, supply chain interruptions, war, inflation, and continued state-sponsored violence against my people; it’s time…past time…to come together, work together and co-create just food systems that honor people and planet. It’s past time to support Black farmers in ways that go far beyond encouraging words.
In a way, while I’m leaving the role of pastor for one church, I’m really stepping out to join with so many others in pastoring a movement of churches, communities and accomplices. We need organized SOUL POWER to accompany our work if we want to stand a chance against the giants before us. I’m ready to go all in with you as we collectively focus on this sacred task.
I want to invite you to a celebration of our work and my professional evolution. On Friday, April 29, 2022, we’ll have a celebration in Baltimore. I’d love to party with you that night. I’m talking about a party for grown folks. Alice Walker said, “hard times call for furious dancing” and I plan to dance furiously given what is before us.
Click here to get tickets for this momentous occasion and let’s celebrate what God is about to do through us as we work together to honor our people, our planet, and our power!
Yours In The Struggle,
Rev. Dr. Heber Brown, III
The Black Church Food Security Network