Members of the African Methodist Episcopal church celebrated the 10th anniversary of one of their pastors, the Rev. Paul J. Thomas, at the AME headquarters 3801 Market St. on Saturday.
Family members, members of the congregation and well-wishers filled the headquarters to attend the banquet held there in his honor.
“He’s doing a dynamic job as pastor of AME Union at 16th and Jefferson,” said Pastor Martha Lang of Mt. Tabor AME Church. And she should know because it is her church which Thomas attended and it was there where he gave his trial sermon.
“He has always been energetic, always smart and he always loved the Lord and doing the work of the ministry even as a small boy,” said Lang.
During an interview held at the banquet, Lang recalled taking Thomas, then in his early teens, to a ministerial conference when Thomas noticed an elder minister smoking a cigar and challenged him on the behavior. Lang said she was impressed by his convictions given his young age.
During the banquet, Thomas was surrounded by those who have helped prepare him for both his life in ministry as well as helped him to develop and mature as an individual.
“I was there to witness when he first came out of his mother’s womb and have watched God work in his life for 30 years,” said the Rev. Mary Lou Moore, Thomas’ grandmother.
“He has a calling, a gift and an anointing, not only to teach and preach but also to sing”
Moore said that Thomas is another link in a long line of generational blessings which she said stems from his mothers side of the family.
“There were preachers, teachers, songsters, evangelists; just a long line of these gifted, talented people and he [Thomas] has carried all of these mantles,” said Moore.
Asked how she felt watching her grandson reach 10 years of ministry, Moore, who is 75, said that she was grateful to be alive to see it and excited to witness what God is doing in Thomas’s life.
“I’m very proud of him, that’s all he ever did from the time he was just a kid. He grew up in the church and he just loved it,” said Samuel Moore, Jr., Thomas’s grandfather.
Moore said that he was proud of Thomas’s accomplishments and that throughout his life he maintained a Christian character.
“He never listened to rock ‘n’ roll and when I came home from work, I worked at night and came home at 7 a.m., he would always be there with his Bible in the living room.
The anniversary celebration began with a reception where guests had an opportunity to fellowship. Afterwards a banquet was held in Thomas’ where those who knew the pastor and witnessed his growth and development as a minister, were given the opportunity to recount their experiences with the minister.
“We looked forward to seeing old and familiar faces and receiving an encouraging word,” said Thomas.
Thomas admits that he was once intimidated by the ministry and described himself as running from God’s call during that time of his life.
“Through it all God found a way to usher me through each instance of my life and I answered my call to ministry in college,” said Thomas.