Thirty years of evangelizing the lost, edifying the saints and exalting Jesus Christ, is a momentous and incredible missions legacy that has literally impacted thousands of individuals, locally and nationwide. Such is the pastoral career and life of Bishop Keith W. Reed Sr., the senior pastor of Sharon Baptist Church. On May 19, Sharon Baptist will celebrate Reed’s long legacy with a gala event at the Please Touch Museum–Memorial Hall, 4231 Avenue of the Republic, in Fairmount Park.
In April and May, prominent national and local preachers have made guest stops at Sharon Baptist to honor their beloved friend and fellow clergyman. Reed has produced at least a half-dozen senior pastors who are shepherding their own congregations. Some of the sons of Sharon and locally renowned guest preachers have included: the Rev. Curtis Morris, Bethany Baptist Church in Chester; the Rev. Emanuel Lambert, Alpha Worship Center in Bear, Del.; and the Rev. Wayne Croft, Church of the Redeemer. One of several nationally known guest preachers included the Rev. E. Dewey Smith, senior pastor, The Greater Travelers Rest Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga.
On April 28, Sharon Baptist held a free concert in honor of Bishop Reed. Superstar gospel recording artist Bishop Hezekiah Walker and his Love Fellowship Choir headlined the list of those performing before several thousand attendees
Walker, 46, a Stellar and Grammy Award winner, performed at least two hours of his past and current hits.
“When I think of Sharon and Bishop Reed, and all that he has contributed to the community, it was no problem for me to come in to do (a free concert),” he said. “I left there in good spirits … and it was a free event … People were able to come in without a charge and really enjoy themselves.
“I’ve been coming to Philadelphia since about 1989, and every time I come, it’s just mad love. It’s just been great every year. … Philadelphia is a place that really keeps Hezekiah Walker (and Love Fellowship Choir) on the map.”
Reed has many others who think highly of him.
“Bishop Reed has been a blessing to me and my family, he’s a good brother, he teaches sound doctrine and he’s just a good man,” said Mike Brown, 58, a deacon at Sharon Baptist Church. Brown has been at Sharon for 29 years and said Reed is both pastor and a friend. One sermon that has resonated with Brown for years was Reed’s message entitled “From the Pit to the Palace.”
“It was a series on Joseph, on how we can go from tragedy to triumph … at the time, I needed to hear that because I was having a valley experience in my life,” Brown said.
Marva Mack, 72, has been a member of the church for 31 years.
“I love Dr. Reed,” said Mack, who is active in the choir and hospitality ministries. “He’s truly helped me become stronger in my faith and my walk with God … I admire how humble he can be … and how he preaches on a level where from the youngest to the oldest can understand it.”
The Rev. Chad Hinson, 40, the pastor of evangelism at Sharon Baptist, met Reed years ago on the preaching circuit,
Hinson said he has been a member at Sharon for seven years. “(Bishop Reed) was always a trailblazer, and we, as younger preachers, always looked up to him. Hinson said he resigned from his senior pastor role at Lakeshore Baptist Church to join Reed.
“He was the one guy to reach out (to me), …” said Hinson, who credits Reed for restoring him back to ministry leadership and fellowship.
“After 30 years, my brother has been so impactful, not just in our family, but to Sharon Baptist Church and the communities,” said Rho Reed, the bishop’s older sister. “His legacy, his ministry, his teaching, his preaching is known internationally.”
“He makes the Word of God so portable, he breaks it down so that anyone can understand the Gospel,” said Rho Reed, who handles conference and concert facility rentals and public relations for Sharon Baptist. She also created the Rose Petals ministry to develop young women ages 12 to 18 to be responsible adult women.
Judge John Milton Younge, 57, was baptized at Sharon Baptist in 1961. He too has become an admirer of Reed.
“I met Pastor Reed when he first came in 1982,” Younge said, “but I wasn’t really active in the church until after I got married and had children in 1985.”
Under Reed’s leadership, Younge went on to rededicate his life to Christ and is a financial steward and a deacon at Sharon Baptist.
Younge marvels at Reed’s level of Bible literacy and teaching acumen.
“By teaching us the Bible, we’ve caught it,” he said. “We’ve caught his love of Christ, we’ve caught his love of the Bible. … He (teaches) the Bible and you can check it for yourself.”
Asked to name his favorite pastors, Reed responded, “Aw, man, I got a list of them.”
His short list includes, “A few that really made a difference in my life, ‘cause no man is an island … some of the guys who have been a blessing in my life, and still are a blessing in my life, the late Rev. Timothy Ruffin, senior pastor of Beulah Baptist Church, the late Rev. Dr. E.K. Bailey … he living legend, the Rev. Dr. Willie Richardson of Christian Stronghold Church; one of the individuals God has used in a mighty way is the Rev. Dr. A.L. Patterson, out of Houston, Texas.” Reed cites Patterson as his personal pastor and mentor to whom he is accountable.
In 30 years under Reed, Sharon Baptist has grown from several hundred members to several thousand. It has one of the largest African-American congregations in Philadelphia, and is a multi-million-dollar enterprise that includes real estate, an elementary school, an all African-American male academy, a community development corporation, and fiscal business operations.
Reed credits God and his entire team of leaders for the growth.
“(As a senior pastor, I am not) gifted to do everything,” said Reed. He and his wife, Lynne, have four children. “One of the key things that I’ve learned in these 30 years, every shepherd has a staff … the staff was there to assist.”
Sharon Baptist Church is located at 3955 Conshohocken Ave. For gala tickets information or ministry information, call the church at (215) 473-3000.
Sunday worship is at 7:45 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.; Prayer night is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays; Bible study is at 7 p.m. Tuesdays.