Andre’ Waller and Terrell Crudup, both Belmont religion students, joined five other Nashville college students in a diverse worship service just before Easter, focusing their sermons on the topic, “An Attempt to Silence the Lamb: Seven Last Sayings of a Crucified Christ.”
They came together to offer a worship experience with the African-American preaching style. The seven come from many different backgrounds and have been in ministry from two to 10 years and range from ages 18-35.
“The black church has a focus on music but a higher focus on the preached word,” Crudup said. “The rhythmic style, the call and response that go back to the days of slavery.”
Although the congregation may not always agree with what the minister says, they will still respond with “Amen” if it is the truth, he said.
Crudup said that in the present day, this “is their way to reach out into the crowd and touch the hearts and minds of the people.”
It’s a style that is familiar to both Crudup and Waller. What follows, in their own words, are their individual stories of the churches and pastors that were their examples and inspirations.
As I grew up in Louisville, Ky., I was a member of the Greater Salem Baptist Church. My grandmother Katherine Waller was very instrumental in me being in church. This was a church that sat in the middle of inner city housing, also known as the projects.
What I can remember most about the church is that we were full of outreach and always going out into the community. There was nothing too big or too small that did not get addressed. The church knew that the surrounding community, its youth and adults needed help and the pastor, Claude Royston, and members were ready to respond to the needs of the community.
There was a significant difference in the community once Greater Salem became involved. Killings, shootings, addictions and many other corruptions began to decrease.
What I admired about Pastor Royston was that he was not afraid of the community at all. He knew the needs of the people and trained the congregation of Greater Salem to meet those people at their needs. He was not one that sat around saying “something needs to be done,” but he was a man of action and took the steps to make that community a much better and safer one.
In remembering all that Pastor Royston had done, it is easy to know why and understand that Greater Salem had a huge impact on me becoming the man that I am today. Not only am I a minister, but I transitioned into the Marine Corps out of high school.
I knew then that the Lord had placed a calling on my life, but it was that time that I ran away from the will and call of God. I tried to hide, but everyone around me could see the Jesus in me. I was always appointed to lead my platoon in devotions and bible study. I know that since I was heavily involved in the church and all of the things that were going on, I kept them near to my heart. When I was away from home, I still had the desire to go to church and keep up with my studies of the word of God. I was trained at Greater Salem and that is something that I will always remember.
I grew up in the suburbs of Austin, Texas. My mother, Helen Crudup, made sure that my siblings and I were always in school. I never saw too much trauma, but I did see drunks and crackheads in my own family. My mother and father separated and divorced during my third-grade year.
I learned to find God in my distress and troubles. My mother never expected anything less than godliness from her children. She trained us to fear God and to study the word. She spoke life over our broken family and held it together. My father gave me a work ethic. Saturdays and Sunday evenings were designated for the family business of cutting grass. Between the two of them, I developed into the person I am today.
God began to call me when I was 6. I believe in God, the devil, his minions, and God’s angels. Simply, I believe in the workings of the spiritual realm, and I was able to recognize the workings of God and the devil in my life and quickly chose God.
God has a way of talking that soothes the spirit. He continued to call me until I finally said yes when I was 18. I was at Belmont by that time trying to enter the music industry. When I accepted my call, I switched my major to religion. The rest is history.