The First Baptist Church family celebrated Rev. Dr. Keith A. Russell’s Seventh Pastoral Anniversary at the morning worship service on Sunday, September 23, with guest preacher Rev. Dr. Edward Lorenza Wheeler.
Rev. Dr. Wheeler is the President of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia. He previously served as President of Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) in Indianapolis, Indiana for 14 years before being named President Emeritus of CTS on July 1, 2011.
He earned his B.A. from Morehouse College (’69) and his M. Div. (Magna Cum Laude) from Colgate-Rochester Divinity School and holds a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Emory University.
A highly regarded community leader and theological educator, Rev. Dr. Wheeler was Dean of the Chapel and Professor of Religion and Society at Tuskegee University before going to CTS.
He was Senior Pastor of Zion Baptist Church in Cincinnati from 1985-1991. While at Zion he was on the faculty at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio teaching in both the M.Div. and D.Min. programmes. He also served as Dean of Morehouse School of Religion.
Over the past two decades, he has served on several civic and professional boards including the Committee on Leadership Development of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee (Office of the Mayor) and 100 Black Men of Indianapolis. Dr. Wheeler has also served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Theological Schools in the U.S. and Canada (ATS) and as Vice Chair of the Baptist World Alliance Commission on Intra Baptist Relations. He was a member of the joint Commission authorized by ATS and the Association of Hispanic Theological Education to strengthen Hispanic Bible Institutes.
He is the author of numerous articles, book reviews and the books Uplifting the Race: Black Ministerial Leadership in the New South, 1865-1902 and Black Pearls: Lessons from a Beautiful Black Mother. As a dynamic preacher, lecturer and speaker, he continues to be in demand around the world. He and his wife, Mary Susan, have been married since 1969. They are blessed with three daughters, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Reflecting on Rev. Dr. Wheeler, Rev. Dr. Russell, said that he is honoured that Rev. Dr. Wheeler consented to be the guest preacher at the anniversary service. “The honour is truly mine to have my Seminary Professor speak at my Seventh Pastoral Anniversary Service. We all know that seven signifies completion, so it says to me that my Professor is here to witness the end of the first phase of my ministerial journey here at First Baptist and the beginning of the next one, for there is much land to be possessed in the work of the Lord,” said the pastor.
Continuing, he said, “Professor Wheeler was a shining example for me and my Seminary colleagues. I tried to emulate him in a number of ways, for I knew that if I walked where he was walking, God would definitely order my steps. We are truly looking forward to a great spiritual upliftment and having a great time in the Lord on Sunday, as Professor Wheeler brings us a powerful Word from the Lord,” he concluded.