BY JOHN-HENRY DOUCETTE
CREEDS — Decorative icing on a cake at Little Piney Grove Baptist Church this past month quoted Jeremiah on a special day for the historic church:
“And I will give you pastors according to My own heart who will feed you knowledge and understanding.”
On April 24, the church’s first Sunday with a new leader, that message is what awaited the congregation after the Rev. Rashad Cartwright, 32, had completed his first service as pastor. There were other messages, too.
Before the service, he said his first sermon was based around Psalm 1.
“I am blessed,” he said just before he entered the sanctuary. “You are blessed. We are blessed.”
And from inside the sanctuary of a church that had been without a permanent pastor for some time came this message:
“Oh God, we pray that You have Your way. Lord, have Your way in this place.”
The church in March had celebrated 160 years as a congregation, and the recently-elected Cartwright was there for the service.
“The reason why I accepted this is, I see the love, I see the potental,” Cartwright said during a telephone interview this past week.
“The history of the church is so rich,” he added. “I see them doing a lot of good things in the community. … I’m looking to be there a good while so God can have me fulfill what he’s asked me to fulfill.”
His sermon was meant to be an empowering, positive start.
“I’m blessed; you are blessed; we are blessed,” he said. “That was the title of the message. It was really an uplifting message.”
Cartwright is a native of Newport News and graduated from Heritage High School. He graduated Hampton University, and then he graduated with a masters of divinity at Virginia Union University in Richmond.
He said he is mindful of the heritage of the church.
“A young minister such as myself, it’s a really big deal,” he said. “I’m really honored.”
And the first service and a celebration that followed was a fine start, he added.
“It was beautiful.”
About 230 people attended a dinner following the service.
“Because the church is 160 years old, you have members from all over,” Cartwright said, noting that a number of people with roots in the church attended.
“It was really like a family reunion,” the new pastor said.
© 2016 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC