By Janice Hayes
New Mount Olive Baptist Church has a rich history of profoundly prolific pastors, including the legendary Dr. Mack King Carter and Rev. George E. Weaver. In 2010, Dr. Marcus D. Davidson, a gifted, progressive, Bible scholar was called to serve as senior pastor, continuing the legacy of phenomenal leaders. In early December 2015, Dr. Davidson invited Rev. Frank Kennedy, Jr. to partner with him in serving as the Executive Pastor, a position that encompasses all facets of church leadership and spiritual development.
“As a pastor, it is vitally important for one who is responsible for communicating the gospel to have a passion to study the Word in a way to rightly handle the Word of God,” said Dr. Davidson. “I believe the one called of God to proclaim the glorious riches of Christ must desire to study, be disciplined in study, and devoted to studying God’s word. Without question, Pastor Frank Kennedy, Jr. is a gifted orator who knows how to take his listeners on an exegetical and expositional escapade with an out-of-the-box approach that remains true to the Bible!”
“I am thankful that the Lord led Dr. Davidson to ask Rev. Kennedy to join him in this vineyard to assist in kingdom building,” commented Shirley Rose Howard, a member of New Mount Olive with long standing family roots in the church and community.
Rev. Kennedy is a nationally known and highly revered pastor, preacher and lecturer. He served for 15 years as senior pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church in Lanett, Ala. He also pastored First Baptist Church in Gordo, Ala. Pastor Kennedy’s biography is a bounteous cornucopia of application in spiritual endeavors; teaching at Selma University, renowned lecturer, full-time evangelist, itinerant revivalist, faith-based counselor, church organization and administration consultant, leadership training and development, and expertise in every component of Christian service.
“When I first heard Rev. Kennedy preach I knew he was a spirit-filled man of God,” said Johnny Smith, Jr., the owner of STS Tax Services and a member of New Mount Olive.
Rev. Kennedy is a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., where he at-tended grade school and played high school football. Ironically, during his elementary school years, he was deemed to have a speech impediment. Despite being challenged with a speech impediment, he knew at the age of 10 that someday he would be a preacher. His grandmother had a major influence on him and his 10 siblings. She was a woman of great faith and very active in her church where he joyfully and regularly attended with her. Similarly, his parents demonstrated strong work ethics and integrity. This dual influence of spiritual and moral fortitude set the trajectory for his career ambitions.
Although Rev. Kennedy accepted his calling to preach prior to his own father’s calling to ministry, he unpretentiously considers his father as his hero. Nevertheless, his father often seeks his son’s expertise in church organization, strategic development, and to preach on special occasions.
Rev. Kennedy began his post-secondary education at the University of Alabama as a nursing student, but in his third year of college, he accepted his calling to preach. He then transferred to Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. where he received his Bachelor’s degree. Subsequently, he earned his Master of Divinity degree from Beeson Divinity School at Samford University. In addition, he has coursework toward his Doctoral degree from Columbia School of Theology in Decatur, Ga.
While in his first year of college, he met the love of his life, the charming, Mrs. Denise Kennedy, a nurse by profession and an avid prayer enthusiast. The love and admiration for his wife is eclipsed only by the blessing of their two daughters, Cierro, a college student and LaChastity, who is enlisted in the military. The glow in his eyes when he talks about his daughters reveals that their close relationship is not diminished by the geographical distance between them.
For Rev. Kennedy, he graciously accepts God’s assignments for his life. “God’s calling is a perpetual journey that demands openness to the assignment of God over my own ambition. I never consider ambition before assignment; rather I embrace my assignment ambitiously.”
“We believe Rev. Kennedy is spiritually and intellectually equipped to effectively minister to the church and the un-churched,” said Gen. James Monroe and Charlyne Monroe, retired military and active church members of New Mount Olive.
“I believe Rev. Kennedy is a genuine man of God with a sincere heart. He preaches in a way that elevates my thinking, but with such clarity that I can clearly understand what he is teaching and apply it to my life,” said Katina Davis-Kennedy, a nurse practitioner and adjunct professor who has been a member of New Mount Olive since she was a young child.
Other than fishing, one of Rev. Kennedy’s fondest interests is reading. He customarily reads several books simultaneously. “Yes, I love reading because it gives me unlimited and unfettered access to people, places and things,” said Rev. Kennedy.
“Rev. Kennedy is one of the most artistic, linguistically gifted orators of all times,” said Deacon Bobby Henry, Sr. “He preaches and teaches with such depth and spiritual profundity until you have to stay focused with gospel-centricity; because his preaching will take you on an adventure around the world, but through the Bible.”
When he was asked during the interview what are the most challenging obstacles to church growth and development, Rev. Kennedy responded, “Spiritual immaturity, a misunderstanding of Godly church order and the unwillingness to change.”
Nevertheless, Rev. Kennedy’s approach to Christian growth and development is a concept he has termed as “road spirituality.” Based on the premise that everyone travels some type of road; whether it’s called the high road, the low road or the Damascus road. He believes in meeting people where they are on the road; and through spiritual counseling, prayer and by modeling the behavior and example of Jesus Christ, he can lead people to choose the right road.
However, his greatest joy in serving as Executive Pastor at New Mount Olive is that he has the opportunity to touch the lives of people and effect positive change in their lives. There was never a time in his life when he wasn’t certain that God had called him to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. As a child, he was affectionately known as the Preacher Boy. His excitement, energy and enthusiasm for God and the people of God has not faded over the years, but grows stronger day by day. Dr. David-son and the New Mount Olive family welcome Rev. Kennedy with open hearts; likewise, he has whole-heartily embraced his assignment.