A white pastor has been chosen to lead a Black church in Fort Worth after the longtime pastor died in August.
Rev. Robert Rogers founded and led Harvey Avenue Baptist Church for 53 years before his passing over the summer, NBC.com reports.
“When God gets ready to take you home, you got to go,” said 77-year-old church secretary Shirley Mayes, who worked with Rogers for a half-century. “So we understand his death, but we miss him.”
Following Rogers’ death, deacons asked pastor Jack Teeler, who is white, to preach for one Sunday service. They liked his style so much that they asked him to lead their church family.
“I’ve known him 10 years,” Rev. Wendell Campbell said of Teeler, who was assistant pastor at West Mount Moriah Church in Como. “He is the epitome of faithfulness.”
But still, a white pastor in a Black church?
“Who ever heard of it?” Teeler said. “I didn’t even apply for the job. They called me. They said God put it in their heart.”
He added, “I believe here I’m a person, they’re a person. I don’t believe they look at the color of the skin. If they had any prejudice in their mind or heart at all, I do not believe they would have called a white man here to preach.”
At his inauguration, members of other churches from across the city reportedly packed Harvey Avenue to welcome him.
Teeler, owner of three Eyecrafters stores, grew up in a mostly white church. He married a Black woman, Brenda Teeler, 27 years ago.
“The way an African-American preaches is harmonious,” he said. “It has a different sound to it than being boring. ‘God will do this, God will…’ They have a good way of saying, ‘The Lord will be with you, no matter what you’re going through.’”
Teeler admits that he never imagined himself preaching to mostly Black church members.
“Church is the most segregated place in the world today,” he said, noting that he has embraced his new position.
“Our motto here is no matter what color your skin, we are all kin,” he said. “We put the labels on them. We call it the white church, the black church, the Hispanic church. We call it that. In the Bible it’s only called church.”