Second Calling: Former Mayor Alvin Brown Once Again Answers the Call to Serve – This Time in the Pulpit

Surrounding Reverend Allen Brown, at his ordination praying for his safekeeping  (L-R) Reverend Ricky Simon, Pastor Herb Anderson, Deacon Robert Luckett and Pastor E.C. Gregory
Dr. Enmanuel Cleaver during the ordaining praying from the pulpit

By Lynn Jones
When Alvin Brown was elected Jacksonville’s first African-American mayor in 2011, he carved his name in the annals of history as he answered the call of community service. Fast forward over a decade later – he once again answered the call of faith as an ordained minister. The former Mayor was ordained as a minister in the Baptist faith ceremoniously lifted by mentors and other men of the cloth.

No stranger to the pulpit, the Beaufort, South Carolina native had engaged in church led bible studies, Sunday school teachings and spreading the gospel to his friends and family as a youth. The writing was on the wall the young man would one day make a difference. Delayed but not denied, former Mayor Alvin Brown answered the personal calling he heard so many years ago.
A product of a single parent household, Brown reminisces on his upbringing and professes that ‘God has brought me a long way’. Brown spiritual testimony hinges on his faith in the God that delivered him out of no way. He continued, “You have to be thankful and grateful for his blessings and take accountability and responsibility and embrace what you are called to do.”

Most of Brown’s friends knew that one day he would eventually preach to a packed congregation. For years, Brown’s family, friends and fraternity brothers (his pledge name was preacher) were inspired by his preaching and message delivery. They just thought Alvin was just doing what he does as a believer in Christ. From college dorms to board meetings and church pulpits he has either led a meeting prayer, a devotional or delivered a motivating word of encouragement to those in earshot.
Throughout his career, he has strived to bring that foundation to his leadership style as a man of faith.

“You do not have to wear your Christian faith on your sleeve. Just be who you are,” Brown said. Understanding the gifts and fruits of his labor as a newly ordained cleric, Brown wants those near and dear to him to shine their spiritual light so others can see Gods good works in your daily spiritual walk.
Not surprised by his ordination, Brown’s mentors eagerly shared that he has been preaching for a long time, “Finally people just realized it. I saw it long ago.

The spirit of the Lord has always been with Reverend Brown. Due to my health I was unable to make it. But my soul is rejoicing,” said Reverend Aaron Flagg, Jr. Associate Pastor, Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church.

Looking back over his tenure as Mayor of Jacksonville, Brown remains proud of his historical administration and hopes that his Christian influence prevailed as a reflection of his many accomplishments. He created a diverse cabinet leveraging his strong ties in Washington D.C. with political insiders, and provided leadership opportunities to many local African American natives who had been shut out of leadership roles thanks to Jacksonville’s “good old boy” system”.

As the mayor, he recalled walking “among the least of these” as the Bible says, without a security in diverse neighborhoods. Once while walking through the Brooklyn corridor, he had the chance to reach out and touch the homeless or anyone that would listen to the words of wisdom from the Bible. Laughing, Brown smiled, “City security had me in a head lock for this one.” Once again, his Christian roots took hold.

This year in May, Brown graduated with his Masters Degree in Divinity from Duke University and is currently serving as a member of the United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

In preparation for his ordination, Brown went through a series of Biblical examinations and evaluation by his teaching pastors. Receiving passing grades and high marks of all challenges culminated into his inaugural sermon. Delivered in the pulpit of St. Joseph Missionary Baptist Church which he has called his church home for over forty decades, he passionately shared “Walking With God in the Spirit,” a message of patience and forgiveness that he hoped resonated with the packed audience. No matter what the future holds, Rev. Brown definitely sees himself pastoring a church and vows to stay focused, centering himself on preaching the word of God to the masses.

To balance his schedule and focus on his personal ministry, Brown meditates daily and takes time to think about the word of God. He also remains in contact with his spiritual mentors for their thoughts. He strives to balance traditional and contemporary elements to reach the various generations collectively. “You have to remain relevant with a foundation to spread love, be righteous with unconditional love and preach that God loves everybody and come as you are,” he said. Always thanking God for his many blessings, Brown is not hesitant to profess that in his spiritual journey, testing of his patience and forgiving others, God has bestowed him everything he has asked for.
St Joseph’s pastor E.C. Gregory summed up Brown’s next steps, “I am so proud of Alvin. Witnessing God’s elevation of this man, it is evident that God has greater things in mind for him.”

Some of Brown’s associates, colleagues and friends congratulating his pastoral success.


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