Ebenezer Baptist Church honors longtime pastor
Contributed to the Telegram
Friday, October 20, 2017
Ebenezer Baptist Church proudly celebrates the Rev. Thomas L. Walker for 50 years in ministry and 47 years as pastor.
A native of Rocky Mount, Walker has spent his entire life serving his community and fellow man. While a 22-year-old seminary student, Walker was called to serve as pastor in 1970. Although he was an energetic, young man with a vision for the future, many just called him a boy. In fact, for a large portion of his ministry, there were those who referred to him in those terms. Little did he, or they, know that he would embark upon a journey that would allow him to serve longer than all the other pastors combined.
When he arrived in 1970, Walker found a church in a land-locked situation with only one driveway to the place of worship. That driveway was a narrow strip of land, located behind several houses that faced Raleigh Road. The church soon found that they didn’t have enough room for those seeking to worship. Although the church had little to no financial resources, Walker immediately challenged the congregation to a land acquisition project. The congregation faced many oppositions, resulting in a protest march against a local landowner who had planned to build apartments where the church parking lot currently exists. After successfully acquiring the land, Walker led the congregation into a stage-by-stage process to complete the current facility, which consists of approximately a 1,000-seat auditorium, multiple classrooms for teaching and a suite of offices. Barnhill Construction was instrumental in completing the current facility.
During his tenure as pastor, the Lord has used Walker in many ways. The ministry has grown tremendously, and outreach programs such as radio and television programs have been implemented. To help meet the needs of the poor and underserved, in 1998 the church established a non-profit organization called EBC-ATOM, Inc. (A Total Outreach Ministry). The organization was established with a three-pronged approach (health, housing, and humanity) and was aimed at improving the quality of life for lower and middle-income citizens. When Flood Floyd ravished the area in 1999, ATOM immediately shifted its focus and set up a Relief Center in the church’s fellowship hall. This initiative enabled ATOM to serve over 15,000 families across the area who were affected by Floyd. Because of the generous donation of more than 50 houses, ATOM was able to refurbish them into affordable housing and create some first-time homeowners. Additionally, ATOM partners to provide drug counseling and provides a weekly tutorial program. Pastor Walker serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of EBC-ATOM, Inc.
In addition to the numerous church outreach programs, Walker has been actively involved in the community, having served three terms as an Edgecombe County commissioner. Additionally, he served as field representative for U.S. Rep. Eva M. Clayton, chairman of the Edgecombe-Nash Political Caucus and chairman of PRIDE (People Really Interested In Developing Equality). He is past president of the Greater Rocky Mount Ministers’ Council and the N.C. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission.
In November 2010, Walker was inducted into the Twin County Hall of Fame for his commitment to public service to improve the lives of citizens in the Edgecombe-Nash area. Recently, Walker received the Board of Preachers at Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. International College of Ministers Award and the TCP Magazine and WIDU Radio Hometown Hero Award for Community Service. In November 2016, Walker received the “Faith in Action Award” from the local branch of NAACP for uplifting humanity through political action and service.
Walker’s personal accomplishments are also numerous. He is a gospel recording artist, and he contributed most of the proceeds from his gold recording, “One Day At A Time” to erecting the current building. He is also author of “Brother to Brother — You Don’t Have To Die Of Prostate Cancer.”
Even at this 47-year juncture, Walker is still an innovative game-changer. He just presented the church with a proposed expansion project called “The Millennium Plan,” which consists of expansion of the current fellowship hall and a complete Family Life Center, which will include a gymnasium for youth outreach. The church consistently attributes the success of her many endeavors to the grace of God and the leadership of Walker. The only way to express the accomplishments under Walker is by saying “It Took A Miracle.”
When asked how he feels to celebrate so many years of ministry, Walker replied, “I’ve been called a boy so long, it feels as though I’m just becoming grown.” Armed with the new vision, the Millennium Plan, Dr. Walker and Ebenezer are expecting another miracle.
In recognition of his commitment to the community and service to mankind, several activities have been planned for the weekend of Nov. 3-5. Weekend festivities will begin Nov. 3 with a free Community Reception from 5-7 p.m. at Ebenezer’s Fellowship Hall. Walker’s impact has been far-reaching, and the floating reception will provide a forum for those individuals to provide personal expressions of gratitude. The 47th Anniversary Banquet will be held at 4 p.m. Nov. 4 at the R. T. McCarter Center. Guest speaker will be Bishop George E Battle Jr., senior bishop of the A.M.E. Zion Church and a lifelong friend of Walker. Music will be provided by George Dickens and the Gospel Disciples. The festivities will conclude at 9 a.m. Nov. 5 with a combined worship service. Walker’s grandson, the Rev. TJ Walker, will bring the message. For more information, contact the church office at 252-446-2378.