Men's Breakfast, June 14, 2014

The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday, June 14th with Donnell Johnson, pastor of New Jerusalem Baptist Church.  Donnell is a young man for being a pastor.  However, grandfather and father were preachers so the tradition is strong and he has been preaching since he was nineteen.  He recently accepted the call to be pastor of New Jerusalem where he was the overwhelming favorite of several candidates.  He finds that being a pastor is different from being a preacher.  The pastor has to preach but he also has to take care of spiritual needs of the flock.  Donnell is a bi-vocational pastor.  His income- earning job is as a lieutenant at a correctional institution in Houston.  This institution holds men who have violated their parole.  Donnell is studying criminal justice at Prairie View A&M and has one more semester to complete his degree.  He then plans to get a master’s degree in divinity and is looking at several schools in Houston and at on-line programs.  He is married and has two children.

New Jerusalem Baptist Church has about a hundred members.  It has a significant number of young men, unusual for most churches.  The membership is almost entirely black with about four Caucasian families.  The church has a new building and fellowship hall.  The church still has a mortgage in spite of having sold its original building to the Port and then making a profit on a real estate transaction on property it originally planned to use for a replacement building.  However, the note is expected to be paid off soon. 

The previous pastor of New Jerusalem was president of the Freeport Black Ministerial Alliance.  Donnell had not heard of it so it appears defunct.  Tom Watson, president of the Freeport Ministerial Alliance, reported that it is not very active.  Most meetings have only about two attendees.  He has tried to keep up the programs that Tom Sharon had started, but is limited in what he can do. 

There was a wide ranging discussion at the breakfast.  A major topic was the fecklessness of today’s youth.  The consensus was that families were not disciplining children sufficiently and that the schools did not have authority to provide sufficient discipline because of lack of support from the parents.  Several of the men recalled being disciplined during high school. 

This led into a discussion of men who have been convicted of felonies, led by Willie Wilson.  He said that many young men have been convicted and have record that makes it difficult to get employment.  Many of them have done things that other men have done so it is to some extent bad luck that they are involved with the law.  He suggested that there needs to be a program that will lead them into productive channels and prevent recidivism.  He also said that there are incentives at the schools to criminalize behavior leading to the school to prison pipeline.  This is a possible activity that churches could get involved in. 

The men had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast.  The next meeting will be Saturday, July 12th.