I interviewed my good friend, Cedric Rowan for this piece. Cedric and I have been friends over 30 years. We attended the same public high school in Kansas City, MO, and the the University of Kansas together. Cedric pastors First Baptist Church in Kansas City, KS. I refer to him as Ced.
(Luke) How long have you pastored First Baptist Church in Kansas City, KS? How would you describe the neighborhood around First Baptist Church?
(Ced) I was installed in January 2010, so I recently celebrated 7 years of pastoral service! But I am also Manager of Procurement Services for the City of Kansas City. First Baptist Church is located at the corner of 5th Street and Nebraska, in a blighted neighborhood. This is sad to me because this neighborhood was once the most successful and thriving community for African-Americans in Wyandotte county. Our neighborhood was once the home of African-American family-owned and operated Douglass Bank (my paternal grandparents banked here). Since the 80s, this neighborhood has declined and has gotten progressively worse. Across the board, this crime ridden area is like the “wild wild west” with the gratuitous gun violence. It now ranks at the bottom educationally, economically and residentially.
You are a bi-vocational pastor – what is your other day job?
Well, Luke, I don’t like the term “bi-vocational pastor” because with a full time church secretary and the advent of portable communication technology, I’m still able to pastor my congregation with a second job. For example, I can respond to texts and phone calls from congregants. And I’ve used personal time to officiate funerals, attend denominational functions, serve on boards, perform hospital visitations and do other pastoral duties as necessary.
Tell me about the demographics of your congregation.
Our congregation is a mixture of blue-collar and white-collar workers. We have retirees and some unemployed members. While we are predominantly African-American, we also have a few Caucasians. Vocationally, we have small business owners, human capital professionals, doctors, nurses, retired educators and social services professionals.
You read Discipleship with Monday in Mind recently. What did you learn? As you think about your congregation, what might some barriers be or push back from your congregation as you consider teaching on faith and work integration?
You know, I had never thought about visiting my congregants at their workplaces. That was totally new to me since I was trained in seminary to visit parishioners in their homes, in the hospital, in prison, or in permanent nurse care facilities. I truly believe that some of my congregants would actually welcome the visit and enjoy seeing him at their workplaces. Given some of the jobs, a visit from me could help my congregants share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I don’t anticipate any push back, but in my predominantly African-American church context, I am intrigued and enthused by the idea of showing my congregants that their daily work is ministry just like church work. I’m also excited to show them that their jobs are not meant to solely advance their economic or material lives but that their jobs are meant to be places where they can serve as a visible representation of Christ.
I think many in my congregation will be surprised to learn that their work really matters to God. We as the church have not applauded people enough for the work they do. The owner of the oldest funeral home in the state of Kansas attends First Baptist, and since reading Discipleship with Monday in Mind, I’ve found myself thanking him more for the quality of his work, especially in the respectful manner he presents the deceased.
Thanks for your time, Ced! I appreciate you and I am praying for you, brother and your beloved congregation as you all venture in this FWE space. Let me encourage you to check out and participate in our Pastor’s Challenge too (click here). Godspeed!