“A place for every race” is a trademarked slogan of New Covenant Fellowship Church 1326 North Moore Road. On July 18, the church will celebrate its 18th anniversary with a concert by the Wardlaw Brothers, known as the Boyz II Men of gospel.
I founded the church in 1996. After attending a Promise Keepers’ rally in Atlanta, I felt God wanted me to pastor a multi-ethnic congregation.
I started my career as an announcer in 1967 at a radio station owned at the time by the late James Brown in Baltimore. I arrived in Chattanooga in 1990 by way of New York City, where I worked as vice president of artist and repertoire for SONY/Epic Records. On the Epic roster were The Jacksons, the late Michael Jackson and Luther Vandross, respectively. In addition, I wrote several songs for which I received both gold and platinum record awards, with the most famous being “I Can’t Stand the Rain”, recorded by Tina Turner, Missy Eliot and Seal.
I became a Christian while watching the 700 Club in 1988 in my apartment in New York City. Years later, the 700 Club selected me to be interviewed for their 50th anniversary celebration. I was also invited to share my testimony live, on September 30, 2011 at CBN’s black-tie dinner in Virginia.
As I look back over these last 18 years, I am grateful that God chose me to be the founding pastor of the first multi-ethnic congregation in the city to offer quality praise and worship music from some of the city’s best musicians and singers.
The theme of our anniversary is “The Dream Turns 18”. I credit our start to God and my dear friend Lurone “Coach” Jennings. Coach Jennings and I were co-hosting a fundraiser for a local radio station. I mentioned to him that God was calling me to start a multicultural ministry in the Woodmore area and I was interested in the vacant Trinity Woodmore Church building because census data from a marketing company supported it. His eyes widened and a broad smile came on his face. He said, “I’m on a committee to find a pastor to start a new work in that very building. Send me your resume.”
A month later, 25 people met in the sanctuary to officially call me as their pastor. More than 300 people attended our first worship service on July 5, 1996. After six years, we outgrew the building. So we left the United Methodist church building and purchased 18 acres directly across the street. One problem: We didn’t have $100,000 to pay for the land. So I prayed for God to give me the name of someone who could help us.
After praying, I called the name God gave me and they gave us the money we needed for A Place for Every Race.