In an era when many church leaders are living lifestyles that match celebrity millionaires and expect to be treated like royalty, people are often refreshed to see a pastor who is down-to-earth.
“I’m a leader, but I’m not someone who is trying to be better than my flock,” said Dr. William V. Pickins III. “I’ve never been the kind of preacher who likes to stay up on the soapbox. I like to be on the ground and in the trenches making a difference for people in the community.”
The hard-working minister seems well-suited to lead Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, a historic congregation located on the city’s Eastside.
Pickins will be officially installed as the pastor of Shiloh during special services on Friday, Oct. 30 and Sunday Nov. 1 at the church, located at 3801 Forest Manor Ave.
Pickins, a native of Chicago, replaces the late Rev. C.V. Jetter, who died in July, 2008 at age 91 after 52 years as Shiloh’s pastor. One of the city’s most prominent Black ministers, Jetter was founding president of the Concerned Clergy, a local civil rights and service organization.
Pickins said he is ready to provide the leadership needed to take Shiloh to the next level of ministry.
“Shiloh is a wonderful congregation, but I pledge to help bring it into the 21st century with things such as a Web site, upgraded technology and more activities to get youth involved.”
Pickins realizes that Shiloh is located in the Meadows area of the Eastside, which is recognized by many residents as a neighborhood that has struggled with crime and drug activity in recent years. He is committed to working with city officials, community leaders, concerned citizens, the police and other ministers to maximize Shiloh’s role in bringing peace to the streets.
“In any community you have to build relationships and coalitions in order to make a difference,” Pickins said. “That’s exactly what we want to do. We need to get Shiloh more engaged with the area God has placed it in.”
Rev. Gregory Morse, an associate pastor at Shiloh, believes Pickins is on the right track.
“I like the fact that he is a servant-leader who cares about both the church and the community, Morse said.
Pickins was called to preach in 1974 at age 22 and received associate and masters degrees from Moody Bible Institute, and earned his doctorate from the Texas-based GMOR Theological Institute.
He served for three years with the U.S. Air Force, establishing the first African-American gospel military chapel service and outreach ministry. He then served as pastor of Gerizim Community Baptist Church of Chicago for 13 years.
Most recently, Pickins served as an associate minister of Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church of Chicago under Dr. George W. Waddles, president of the powerful Congress of Christian Education in the National Baptist Convention, USA denomination.
“I knew the moment I saw his resume he was the perfect fit for Shiloh,” said Johannon Tate, a member of the church’s pastoral search committee and Pickins’ new “armor bearer,” or assistant. “He’s highly educated but is able to connect with everyone.”
Pickins says he likes Indianapolis because it offers great opportunities for his family, which includes wife Julie, daughter Lyric and son Julian.
“I even like the weather,” Pickins said. “Indy is also full of possibilities that can and will change the world.”
Although Pickins takes his ministry seriously, he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He makes sure he sets aside space for quality time with his family, sharing jokes with friends, playing tennis and other sports, and enjoying activities such as reading and playing billiards.
“I love pool, I’m always happy when a billiard table is around,” said Pickins.
Shiloh member Barbara McGriff is looking forward to Pickins’ discipleship plans.
“I’m glad he will highlight the importance of becoming effective learners and leaders,” said McGriff.
Member Corey Pasley is also excited about Pickins.
“I think he’s going to do for our church what Obama has promised to do for the country,” Pasley said.