Q&A With Our New Pastor, Reverend Reuben W. Ford

Reverend Reuben W. Ford and First Lady Joyce Ford.

Question:  When and where did you accept the call to ministry?  

Reply:  I accepted the call to ministry over thirty years ago, while a member of the congregation at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Oxnard California. The Church was under the Pastoral Leadership of the Reverend Dr. Johnie Carlisle, Jr.

Question:  What is it about the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC) that sets it apart from other denominations and why have you made it your religious home?

Reply:  The African Methodist Episcopal Church is the first and longest standing Independent African Christian Denomination in the United States. By whatever method one finds the AME Church, either by growing up in the church or joining it in the city or town one lives in, you will have found a church that you need and one that needs you. When this happens it is a divine match, made in heaven from the beginning of time.  It has been so for me, therefore I remain in it and it in me. Surely, Jesus Christ has planted a vineyard and has tended its growth.  

Question:  Tell us about your family? 

Reply: I am married to First Lady Joyce Ford, we have one son, Gabriel.

Question:  Although you just arrived at Parks Chapel what are some of the similarities and differences between this church and your last? 

Reply:  First AME Church Santa Monica is a wonderful church as is Parks Chapel AME Church.   As with Parks Chapel, there is a mix of long time AME Families and those new to the AME Church.  This mixture will always create a compelling opportunity to worship, praise and serve God through community outreach and helping those within and outside of our community. 

Question:  When you complete your ministry, what will you most want people to remember about your service to God and his people?

Reply:  Mainly, that God is the supreme judge of all men and women and as such, he alone knows every heart and the intent of the same. If we serve him with that in mind, beginning as early as we can in our lives, from our youth forward and find ourselves presently serving our Father God through our Lord and  Savior Jesus Christ, compelled by the Holy Spirit, then we should have nothing or certainly very little to be ashamed of in our Christian walk. Therefore, I’d say, as in Romans 1:16 “…that I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power to save, those who believe.”  

Question:  What are your views on the current social impact, the black church is making today? Is it a Success?

Reply:   Both collectively (all black churches) and independently (the AME Church) have a very strong impact and influence, whether it is realized or not. The AME Church has existed for over 203 years since its founding; it has around 2.5 million members, 3,817 pastors, 21 bishops and 7,000 congregations around the world. These numbers may not seem much in the Christian Faith, since the two thousand and nineteen years after our Lord’s death and resurrection; however to those who could not be served by any other church at the time, and were not allowed to be buried in the church cemetery, nor allowed to praise and worship freely or pray as others were afforded; then I’d say such an institution has been blessed by God to remain in existence, that would symbolize both a tremendous social impact and success.   

Question:  What is one of your favorite parables in the Bible and why?

Reply:   As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I would choose from the many incredible parables told by our Lord, the parable of the sower, sowing the seed (Matthew 13:1-23).  One of the main reasons for my fondness of this parable is that Jesus explains the meaning of the parable to his disciples, in verses 18-23.  18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”  {Matthew 13:18, NIV}

Question:  My only question that I have for the pastor is, how does he feel about our current situation pertaining to, Y.P.D.? And, what does he plan on doing about it?

Reply:   Restoring or increasing Youth participation in the church is a goal, challenge and a plan for many churches in our modern context. Within a church, encouraging Youth Ministry Programs should be the goal of the entire congregation and all the church’s auxiliaries, boards, commissions and members.  My belief is that, the presence of children brings other children, so we should start with the regular attendance and active participation of the children belonging to the families within the church. We must remove any impediments which prevent youth participating in the programs at the Church, then restoration and rebuilding youth programs can begin. Care and feeding of the vital programs that serve youth in the church (Church School, Christian Education, Women’s Missionary Society, YPD, Men of Allen, and Rites of Passage) is required to sustain youth involvement and thriving. Christian Education for young people is the key. The main concept of Christian Education should be rooted in teaching young people in a way, which leads them to a life-time of 1) service to God, 2) ministering inside the church body and 3) ministering to the surrounding community served by the church.  Unless we instill these goals within the youth programs, the absence will continue. My first goal is to encourage families to bring their children, both the immediate family member and close relatives to church and Sunday Church School. Secondly, our aim is to provide biblical-centered programs infused with enriched teaching, thought provoking verbal exchanges, active learning tutoring, creative arts, music, poetry, science, singing, praising, dancing and acting. God will bless these activities, when they are carried out in the spirit of unity, love and peace.  From our recent activities, I can see that Parks Chapel is already on a path towards these goals.  I look forward to it all coming to fruition. 

Question:  You have been at Parks Chapel for 4 weeks, what has been your experience thus far with the members and community?

Reply:   We (First Lady Joyce and I) have been welcomed since day one by the congregation at Parks Chapel with a spirit of true love and sincere care, which is growing from day-to-day.  I am only beginning to meet people in the community; I am looking forward to continuing the relationships which already exist and in building new relationships with other churches, community groups and individuals. 

Question:  Are you concerned about the community the church is in with regards to bringing in new members?  

Reply:   Parks Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church is prominent and visible in the City of San Fernando, CA and in the Greater San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles Communities.  From this current location we have the opportunity to offer those seeking worship, membership and fellowship to all who come.  Parks Chapel presents the Christian Principles and Methods of Worship of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and its Worldwide Connection, as a worship option for those are looking to serve God in Spirit and in Truth.  As Pastor, I look forward to continuing efforts of winning souls for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to the Glory of God. 

Question:  What encouragement can you give the church struggling with bringing in members?

Reply:  1) I’d encourage full and regular attendance to at least one of the Worship Services (Sundays 8:00 and 10:30), by all of the current members of Parks Chapel (who are able to attend).  By doing so, visitors and those seeking a church home will see our great diversity, our love and our earnest desire to worship God in a Fellowship of Believers.  2)  Continue to Invite and bring others to the Service and Special Events at Parks. 3) Pray that God will see us worthy and of sufficient humility to add to our membership and to continue to share in adding members to the Christian Community of Faith, as we act on Christ’s Great Commission.  18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in            heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing             them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them               to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to            the end of the age.” 4Amen. {Matthew 28:18 -20 NKJV} 

Question:  What is your favorite scripture to help when dealing with death of a loved one?

Reply:   The following two (2) passages are offered for comfort: 1)      25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” {John 11: 25-26 NIV}      2)      21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands  and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.  {1 John 3: 21-24, NIV}  

Question:  Are you going to keep the 8 am service? We hope you do!

Reply:   Yes, it remains in place, unless the future brings some valid reason(s) to discontinue it. 

Question:  As Pastor of Parks Chapel AME what is your main focus for the first 3 months?

Reply:   Listening, watching, praying, loving, preaching, teaching, working in this vineyard and worshipping God in songs and praises of affirmation of his great wisdom, knowledge, glory, power and dominion and for his great love and active providence in our lives.

Question:  Welcome Pastor Ford! We are blessed to have you. I am eager to hear your thoughts on how the Church in general, and Parks Chapel in particular, can grow in its appeal to the African American community in the San Fernando Valley, especially younger (sub-Baby Boomer) members of the community.

Reply:   Thanks for your warm welcome. Parks Chapel is a wonderful Church in the AME Connection and the community. As such it is pivotal and important to the connection.  The area around Parks for many miles is un-served by any other AME Church and therefore Parks Chapel should be a place of worship for all generations of African Americans and for others, whosoever will come. 

Question:  Welcome Pastor Ford. It is an exciting time in the Lord at Parks Chapel. At this current time in our church, community and nation, what would you say is the most compelling and needed prayer request, that we should collectively petition God with and receive the fruit of his blessing from it?

Reply:   The salvation for the unsaved should always be the Church’s compelling imperative.  The world is moving on as it does, people are living and dying, it is important to reach the lost masses, “those of every race and birth” as we encounter them and have a chance to minister to them. God will direct them to us; we must be prepared to pray for the unsaved, preach to them and to teach them the saving gospel of Jesus Christ and of God’s Eternal Kingdom to come.

Question:  Are you more of a student or a teacher and how has that evolved? 

Reply:   Though we teach, we are always students.  The Bible has such a wealth of knowledge, that we can never plumb it depths. Therefore, we who should be teaching go forth and teach, though we ask of the spirit to teach us how to teach.

Question:  What are the three most important things you want from the church members to help you pastor? 

Reply:   I have already addressed several expectations for the general church body.  But I offer the following Scriptures of what God requires of his people:               (Joshua 24:14-28)  12And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God by walking in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all                      your heart and with all your soul, 13and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD that I am giving you this day for your own good?


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