Sometimes God has a plan that is not often evident or discerned.
This was certainly the case when the Rev. Quintin Robertson was selected as director of the Urban Theological Institute at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. After his appointment his first Philadelphia trip was to a program at Grace Baptist Church of Germantown. Little did he know that five years later he would be standing before the West Mount Airy church as its interim pastor.
Though Robertson has extensive experience in corporate America, academia, and preaching in the pulpit, this is the first time he been a senior pastor. When Robertson was named by the search committee headed by Tyrone Beach, he had served the nearby Woodcrest Church as its interim pastor for just three months. He was a familiar face to Grace members since he coordinates the annual “Preaching with Power” series that is often held at the church.
“It is really ironic that I was the one who was selected for this position,” Robertson said. “In many ways it is an oxymoron because when I first came to Grace five years ago I would have never dreamed I would ever be their pastor. So, it’s been a growing experience, but one that has been good for me and for the church. I’m getting the best on the job training here.”
Robertson readily admitted that the transition has gone smoothly because he understands organizational dynamics. He said he is not one “to rock the boat” but that does not mean he is not implementing change. While most of his new role involves overseeing programs that are already in place or being implemented, he is reaching out to the young people through social networking. This, he said, will be an area that will continue to grow.
The interim pastor pointed out that though Grace is a traditional church with a core of longtime members, there is a need for young adult outreach. “We are finding that updating the church’s website is effective in reaching Generation X and the Millennials,” Robertson said.
“It’s important to reach out the next generation. We have to include them. Of course there is still a need to meet in person and use the postal service, but we have to also use social media. That’s why we are putting up and monitoring an active Facebook page,” he said.
The church is even looking towards innovative ways to be sure that all are involved in the worship service. Before Robertson arrived some were toying with the idea of having a Saturday evening worship service. This will happen, though initially it may not be every Saturday of the month. “We are also looking into live streaming services,” Robertson said.
Previously Robertson was director of admission and recruitment at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta for a decade. He also served in campus ministry at the Atlanta University Center leading weekly Bible Study for Clark Atlanta, Morehouse and Spelman students.
Robertson is a graduate of Howard University and then served as a Congressional intern. He earned his MBA from Clark Atlanta, his MDiv and DMin degrees from the Interdenominational Theological Center. He is also a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
So, the more than 500 members need not think that Grace’s longstanding traditions are being removed. They are being improved, according to Robertson.
Nor should they think no new enlightenment will come to the church. Robertson insisted that all the ministries, special initiatives, programs laid for former pastors, and annual events will remain intact as the church embraces some of the new technology of the new millennium.
“This is just an exciting time for Grace Baptist,” Robertson said. “We are making a transition. We are growing. I’ve already made it through my 90-day probation period and I’m happy to be here. I think that we can get even better, so I would encourage those in the community to come and see for yourself how we are doing.”
“The members are very happy with Dr. Robertson’s youthful and progressive energy along with some simple, but effective changes,” said Wynelle K. Coleman, Grace Baptist’s publicity chair. “We invite the community to come and experience word from Dr. Robertson to feel that change and zest.”