First Baptist Church Piney Grove commemorates pastor’s third anniversary
By Derek Joy
The theme, “Appreciating the Labor,” was crafted from the wisdom in Phililppians 4:10.
That will be the focus beginning Thursday, Oct. 17-20 2013 when the Rev. Dr. Derrick and Lady Deborah Bryson Hughes and the First Baptist Church Piney Grove congregation commemorate the pastor’s third anniversary.
Three intense days of spiritual rejoicing will be enhanced by appearances of the New Mount Olive Baptist Church Choir, Rev. Dr. Alphonso Jackson, Sr., pastor of Second Baptist Church in Richmond Heights, award winning gospel recording artist Lisa Page Brooks and the Rev. Marvin E. Wiley, pastor of Rock of Ages Baptist Church in Maywood, Ill., where Hughes once pastured.
Jackson will be featured Thursday night, Page Brooks headlines a free musical concert on Friday and Wiley speaks at both Sunday worship services.
“We celebrate Jesus once a-gain,” replied Hughes, when asked to describe the significance of celebrating his third anniversary as senior pastor of the 3,500 member congregation. “It’s an opportunity for the congregation to just say to me and my wife, “We appreciate your pastoral service.”.”
There is much to appreciate in the work of Hughes, 49, a Chicago native, at First Baptist Church Piney Grove.
He proudly speaks of the choir’s work with the video production by T Dogg and Sybrina Fulton in the aftermath of George Zimmerman’s acquittal on second degree murder charges for the shooting death of her son, Trayvon Martin, in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26, 2012.
Equally significant is the successful opening the Piney Grove Boys Academy that currently has 60 students enrolled. The mostly inner city student population is being guided through one of the best curricula in America, according to Hughes, the father of four daughters.
“When I first came here and heard about the graduation rate of Blacks being 47-percemt. That is unconscionable. I said we had to do something more than shake our heads,” said Hughes.
Hence, the birth of the Piney Grove Boys Academy as a private Christian school. It is a worthy example of the church congregation doing more than shaking its collective head at a serious social problem.
Obviously, this weekend’s pastoral anniversary events will highlight these efforts and more.
Getting to this point was not an overnight journey. Nor was Hughes’ progression in the ministry.
“I started preaching when I was 21,” said Hughes, noting that came shortly after his graduation from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, “My decision to enter the ministry because of the power of the Holy Spirit only, it has nothing to do with anybody else.”
Interestingly, Hughes continued preaching while moving up the career ladder with AT&T. But that all changed when Hughes was 28 and very successful in business.
“If it was money, I wouldn’t have gone into the ministry because I was very successful in business. I took a major pay cut when I entered the ministry.”
So, the power of the Holy Spirit motivated Hughes.
His pastoral assignments began at Centennial Baptist Church in Chicago that lasted four years. Then he started Grace Community Baptist Church, where he pastured three years. He was on the pastoral staff at Rock of Ages Baptist Church in Maywood, Ill, for a year and a half, and on to Springdale Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., for five years, until Piney Grove chose him from among 155 applicants in July 2010.
“I saw the national search notice online,” Hughes recalled. “It was the only position I applied for while pasturing Springdale Baptist Church. I felt like God said Memphis was not the final destination. He had something else. It became God’s divine providence.”