For the second year in row, the Houston Forward Times, the largest Black-owned independently published newspaper in the South, held its second annual Visionary Pastor’s Awards ceremony. Over 2,000 paid attendees joined the Houston Forward Times at this black-tie event as they honored ten outstanding Visionary Pastor Honorees and three Hall of Fame Pastor Honorees this past Friday, May 17, 2013, at the George R. Brown Convention Center in the General Assembly Theater. The theme for this year’s celebration was “Our Faith…..Our Voice…..Our Future.”
The 2013 Visionary Pastors’ honorees were Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell, Windsor Village United Methodist Church; Pastor Samuel Compton, Sr., Mt. Canaan Missionary Baptist Church; Pastor Edwin Davis, Galilee Missionary Baptist Church; Pastor Reginald Devaughn, Silverlake Church; Pastor Terrance Johnson, Higher Dimension Church; Bishop Rufus Kyles, Jr., Evangelist Temple Church of God in Christ; Pastor Ed Montgomery, Abundant Life Cathedral; Pastor Gregg Patrick, Southwest Community Church; Pastor Michael Pender, Fallbrook Church; and Pastor Byron Stevenson, The Fort Bend Church.
The criteria used to select Visionary Pastor Honorees include, but is not limited to: 1) At least five (5) or more years as a Pastor, 2) Evidence of Community and Economic Development, 3) Community Engagement, 4) Focus on Education and 5) Proven Work with the Youth, Young Adults and Seniors.
The Pastors who were inducted into the Hall of Fame for 2013 were Dr. Thomas Freeman, Mt. Horem Baptist Church; Dr. William “Bill” Lawson, Pastor Emeritus, Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church; and Pastor Floyd Nathaniel Williams, Sr., Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.
The criteria used to select Hall of Fame Pastor Honorees include, but is not limited to: 1) At least thirty (30) or more years having served as a Pastor and 2) Historical Contributions to the Community.
Videos showcased the outstanding work each Visionary Pastor has done in the Greater Houston area.
“Our intent was to honor these pastors because of their vision for growth and development in the communities in which they serve,” said Forward Times Publisher Karen Carter Richards. “Many times, the community doesn’t hear about the great work that these pastors do in the community and we wanted to showcase that work. They aren’t just mega-churches, they are actually helping the community by providing wonderful programs centered on community development, economic outreach, quality education and training for youth, young adults and seniors.”
KPRC-TV Ch. 2 news reporter Courtney Gilmore and legendary radio icon Wash Allen, served as Master and Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening, which included a VIP reception before and some soul-stirring gospel music throughout the event. Attendees enjoyed wonderful performances from legendary national gospel recording artist Dorothy Norwood, Carnel Davis & Incorporated To Praise, musical guest Endurance and violinist Omar Lopez, who had the entire audience wowed by his performance. The musical director of the evening, V. Michael McKay, who is a two-time Dove Award winner and Gospel Hall of Fame inductee, also delivered several inspiring selections, along with his band, which had the audience on their feet throughout their performance.
The star-studded event not only honored each deserving pastor for their outstanding work and service to the community, it also raised money for the Julius and Lenora Carter Scholarship and Youth Foundation. The foundation provides scholarships and internships to students who are seeking careers in the areas of communication and media. A few of the scholarship recipients and interns who were on hand to be acknowledged were Ryan George, a senior at Lamar High School who will be attending Morehouse College and major in Communications, Radio and Television; and Ashura M. Bayyan who attends Houston Community College and graduated from the Texas Business Alliance Youth Entrepreneurship Academy in 2010 before going off to college and starting his business, Aesthetic Liberty, a videography and communications company. The scholarships presented to each student were provided by sponsor Wells Fargo, who has supported the event since inception.
Supporters and attendees were on hand to show their love for each honoree, as each pastor was showered with gifts. Sponsors of the event presented each pastor with gifts to express their overall appreciation for the tremendous and diligent work that they all have done in the community and in their respective church. Wells Fargo presented them with a gift bag; Radio One presented them with a High-Definition (HD) radio; and Bayway Auto Group presented them with a flat-screen panel television. They also received proclamations from Honorary Chairs U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and U.S. Congressman Al Green, along with a congratulatory letter and autographed picture from President Obama; a pair of custom Congressional cufflinks from the House of Representatives; and a State of Texas Resolution from State Rep. Ron Reynolds.
The Houston Forward Times is already working towards planning for the 3rd Annual Visionary Pastor’s Awards in 2014 and would like to sincerely thank all of the sponsors and supporters of the event this year.
Special thanks to Wells Fargo, CWA, Houston City Councilmember Larry Green, City of Houston, Bayway Auto Group, Corrections Corporation of America, Radio One, KTSU 90.9 FM, The Law Office of Waverly R. Nolley, H.E.B., Capital One Bank, Houston Community College and Houston Community College-Northeast, Texas Business Alliance, Fort Bend Church, Windsor Village United Methodist Church, Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, Dr. John Stanford, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congressman Al Green, Wilson Financial Group, volunteers and the entire Houston Forward Times staff.