(pictured above: New Friendship Pastor Lester Boyd with his wife, Sharon.)
The new pastor of Friendship Baptist Church is vowing to keep it real while feeding spiritual souls.
Rev. Lester Boyd,46, was selected recently to succeed Rev. Stacey Frazier, who led the church for six years before his untimely passing in May 2013. Frazier, who was just 36, suffered from sickle cell anemia.
The church had been without a permanent pastor since Frazier’s death. Boyd was hired after an extensive search that included reviewing several resumes and holding interviews with prospects.
“I’m not here to fill his shoes. Pastor Frazier did all that he could do before God called him home,” Boyd said. “I am going to give homage to him. His ministry was as a seed planter. The ministry that God has in store for Friendship now is – not to take anything away from Pastor Frazier or anyone else – but to build upon.”
The Winston-Salem native was pastor for eight years at Wentworth Baptist Church in Reidsville. He is also a former associate minister at Oak Grove Baptist Church in Walkertown, where he studied under the late Rev. Ira L. Anthony.
Boyd attended Tuskegee University, North Carolina Central University, New Hope Bible College and Liberty University. In August 2000, he was ordained under Dr. Paul Lowe, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church and a member of the Rowan Baptist Association.
A former Army combat medic, Boyd said he recognized his need for Jesus Christ as he was serving during Operation Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia.
“There was this brother over there, my age, and we kind of favored. Every time we got to talking about playing cards, girls, partying and drinking, he would always get quiet,” Boyd recalled. “I asked if he was gay one day and he said ‘Naw, I’m just saved.’ His lifestyle drew me to Christ. It wasn’t so much his words.”
Boyd said he immediately felt a connection with Friendship.
“When I first walked in the church, it felt warm. I also felt a sense of hunger,” he said. “I have a ministry that is based on encouragement, but I keep it real through the encouragement.”
Boyd said that keeping it real means teaching and preaching the gospel in a manner that everyone understands – a way in which everyone can apply the lessons in his or her daily life. He said the basis of his ministry is to get people to see themselves as larger than they are.
He does not plan to make any major changes at the church anytime soon, but in the future, he wants to expand Friendship’s outreach.
“We want to provide the stability so the (congregation) will be receptive to what we have in store for them,” he said.
Mildred Griffin, a lifelong member of the church, has high hopes for Boyd and the future of her church.
“I think he will make some great changes, and the church will progress on,” she said. “Once the congregation gets accustomed to him, and he to us, we are going to reach greater heights,” she said.
Boyd has a wife, Sharon, three children and three grandchildren. A gala will be held in his honor on Aug. 15 at the Hawthorne Inn at 7 p.m. He will be installed on Sunday, Aug. 17 at 4 p.m. at Friendship, 1317 Cherry St. Rev. Johnnie Taylor, pastor of Rising Star Baptist Church of Eden, will speak. Tickets to the gala are $20 per person and can be purchased by calling the church at 336-723-6105.