Ministers withdraw invitation to Reid

Baptist group notes pastor's endorsement of O'Malley for mayor

September 21, 1999|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,SUN STAFF

Baptist ministers in Baltimore have withdrawn their invitation to the Rev. Frank M. Reid III to preach at their annual revival next month, noting his endorsement of Martin O'Malley in the city Democratic mayoral primary.

The Baptist Ministers Conference of Baltimore, which represents 70 Baptist churches in the Baltimore area, had endorsed O'Malley's opponent, former school board member Carl Stokes, who lost to O'Malley in last week's balloting.

"We invited him to come in good faith, and, knowing our position, he did that," said the Rev. Carl L. Washington, president of the conference. "It was like a smack in the face."

He insisted the ministers did not act in anger.

"There's no anger in it," Washington said. "The men [ministers in the conference] just felt as though they were betrayed, and publicly betrayed."

Last night, Reid expressed no ire at the ministers or regret about his endorsement. "They stood by their principles, and I stood by mine," he said. "They did what they felt they had to do, and I did what I felt I had to do."

At the weekly meeting Sept. 13 of the ministers' conference, where the unanimous vote was taken to withdraw the invitation, Washington said, "Some ministers said they would come with bullhorns and disrupt the revival" if Reid were allowed to speak.

In light of that, he said, "I think it was wise and also merciful to" withdraw the invitation.

In Reid's place, the ministers voted to invite the Rev. R. Lee Johnson, pastor of Brown Memorial Baptist Church, to serve as "revivalist." The Baptist Ministers Conference revival will be held Oct. 4-8 at New Christian Memorial Church, 4525 W. Caton Ave.

Reid is pastor of Baltimore's largest black congregation, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in West Baltimore.

Washington said it is not unusual for the conference to invite a non-Baptist to preach as the event's revivalist.

The mix of church and politics is routine within the conference, he said. "We try to get a consensus" on political endorsements, Washington said.

While the Baptist ministers voted to endorse Stokes, they were not all of the same mind.

"Some of our ministers did vote for O'Malley," Washington said. But their group picked Stokes.

A week before the primary, Reid stood outside his 213-year-old church and endorsed O'Malley.

"But it should not have been done publicly," Washington said. Or, if he was going public, he said, Reid should have warned the Baptist ministers as a courtesy.

Sun staff writer John Rivera contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 9/21/99

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