Rev. Stephen E. Tucker
New Commandment Baptist Church, 23 years
Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana
Education: Ball State University, BS, History
Saint Mary's Seminary, MTh
Determined Biblical Institute, DD
How did you hear your call to ministry?
I was called to the ministry under the leadership of the late Dr. Harold A. Carter Sr. at the New Shiloh Baptist Church. While serving as a deacon and the superintendent of New Shiloh's Saturday Church School, I was stunned to receive two phone calls on the same day with news that two very influential men in my life had been called home to be with the Lord. They were from Atlanta, indicating that my former pastor, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Sr. (Daddy King as he was affectionately called) and from Indianapolis, indicating that my father-in-law, the Rev. C. C. Cornell (a pastor for over 60 years) had both passed. When the dust settled I began to experience a fierce tugging within my spirit on a daily basis. I couldn't serve enough or go to church enough to handle the tugging. I couldn't hear enough sermons or be in enough places where ministry was taking place. I finally compelled myself to talk with my pastor, Dr. Carter, who sort of laughed and said, "I've been observing you and I thought we would be having this conversation much sooner….you held out a long time!"
What was the biggest surprise when you started ministry?
The biggest surprise for me when I started ministry was what I didn't know. I discovered quickly that being around ministry was vastly different from being in ministry. I quickly enrolled in seminary in order to learn what I didn't know and to be able to talk intelligently with other ministers and seasoned members of the church.
I was surprised at how much time was required to serve God in a ministerial capacity, but completely satisfied that my pastor required excellence and demonstrated excellence with the call. Finally, I learned that seminary does not teach you or prepare you for the great challenges that come with leading "our people.”
Of what aspect of your ministry are you most proud?
I am most proud that God allowed me to organize a church, plant it on the number one drug-trafficking block in the District of Columbia, and watch it grow. We began with 18 members and in less than two years had grown to 300. I am also most proud of the fact that we had literally nothing when we started. Yet the Lord provided every need, allowed us to purchase a 100-year-old building directly across the street from public housing. In 1997, we were blessed to found Jobs Partnership along with a White Presbyterian businessman and a Catholic entrepreneur. More than 3,000 have received employment since its inception. More than 120 churches have participated in the program at some level.
What's the most exciting thing about your ministry?
The most exciting thing about our ministry is witnessing the miracles of God among the laborers in His vineyard. We have no lawyers or doctors or politicians or professional athletes or rich people in our congregation. Yet God uses who we have to accomplish great and marvelous things! When we started I was the only college graduate in the church. Twelve have received degrees since then. Many have been delivered from drugs and alcohol. Fifteen persons have been called into the ministry, two of whom are pastoring their own churches.
How does social media enhance your ministry, or not?
Coming from a sales background, I have been blessed to learn such things as marketing, advertising and selling. We promote our ministry via radio, website and Facebook.
Who in your community most inspires you?
I could easily rattle off the names of Mary Hawes, who works with our HIV-Aids ministry; Bevenell Robinson, who works with battered women and domestic violence. Or, Patricia Derricott, who helped to organize our "New & Living Way" Substance Abuse Program. Or, I could mention Tina Buggs, who drives into our community all the way from Waldorf, Md. Or, Joyce Milton, our church clerk who although she does not have her own transportation, almost never misses a church service. I could mention my own wife, Roberta, who works in Baltimore, but presses her way to Washington, D.C. to serve in various capacities. I could mention all of our faithful financial contributors, but the fact of the matter is that my entire community and congregation have inspired me. Speaking of community, we are presently re-locating our ministry due to government restraints, new legislation on parking, and a general atmosphere of pushing churches out of the District. For the past several years there has been a hidden agenda by the government to go after church property through the use of laws and fines and schemes. Therefore, after several "run-ins" with the government we have relocated our ministry to Bowie right off Route 197 near Bowie State.
What's your favorite form of recreation? Self care?
At this stage of my life, that's easy! My favorite form of recreation is spending quality time with my grandchildren, Kayden, 4, and Jordyn, 2, McDaniel. They are so precious, bright and fun to be around. I like to see the way they absorb church and blossom before my very eyes.
I play an occasional game of golf when I can. Of course, time with my lovely wife is always great. However, the grandchildren for both of us are sort of a joint venture project. We both love them immensely.
Worship with New Commandment Baptist Church at 13701 Old Jericho Road, Bowie, Md. 20720. The dedication of New Commandment’s new facility will be 12 noon, Sept. 14. For more information call 301-262-0560.