Vincentian is first black to pastor all white  North Carolina church
September 7, 2012
Vincentian is first black to pastor all white North Carolina church

Former pastor of the Glen Baptist Church, Reverend Ray Carr, has been inducted as pastor of Baptist Center Church in Clayton, North Carolina, USA.{{more}}

Carr’s call to pastor the church is historic, as he is the first black person to lead the previously all white church in its 141-year history.

The induction ceremony took place on August 26.

In introducing Carr, his wife Deborah and children: Darrel, 18; Travis, 13; and Brianna, 9 to the members of the church, Search Committee Secretary Dawn Carroll told church members that the process which led to Carr being inducted as their pastor was miraculous.

The church had been without a full-time pastor for about three years, and since September 2010, the Search Committee reviewed approximately 75 resumés, but “in each instance God led either the candidate or our committee in another direction. We had begun to wonder just what God was doing, when He started to reveal a purpose we could not have imagined.”

She said when Reverend Carr first preached at the church as pulpit supply in February, this year, many of the members recognized qualities in him they “admired and enjoyed”.

“But Ray isn’t like us. He has a funny accent. We weren’t quite sure what to think when we first received his resumé. But as Ray returned to fill the pulpit several times more and we came to know him better; we began to be reminded that God’s ways are not our ways,” Carroll said.

“We had a lot of questions, concerns with how the church body would react, but knew we must follow God’s leading.”

Carr was interviewed for the position and offered the position on May 30, after research into the legalities pertaining to his immigration status.

The Search Committee Secretary said at first, they tried to apply for an H1B visa, which is a regular employee visa used by most US employers, as they were told this would be the quickest route. However, by the time they submitted their application, the last of the 65,000 H1B application spots had been taken two days earlier. They then began the process of applying for a R1 or Religious Worker’s visa, which they had been told would require a site visit by an Immigration Service representative and could take up to 10 months to process.

“We requested an August 1st starting date, knowing this was highly unlikely. Around June 22nd, our visa application was approved and we began the wait. We started researching whether any of our church members had the connections to expedite the required site visit that seemed to be the stalling point for many churches. Then, quite miraculously, on Saturday, July 21st – less than one month after our application was acknowledged as received – we got an email from our attorney’s office (on a Saturday, remember), saying our prayers had been answered. Ray’s application had been approved in LESS than ONE month, with NO site visit and not a single question. God truly had answered our prayers in an unexpected and miraculous way, before we could get help from any outside parties, reminding us to give the glory only to Him,” Carroll said.

Pastor Carr told SEARCHLIGHT that the support he has received from the church has been overwhelming.

“They have accepted us with open arms. The church has provided a parsonage for our family to live in. Extensive work was done on the parsonage by the members themselves this was a clear demonstration of their acceptance of us,” he said.

“The ladies have given so much support to my wife, which has made the move so easy for her. They have embraced her with ease. Our family has adjusted very well to our new church family and feel very welcome and accepted.

“Deborah has been a tower of strength to our family through this journey. She has been the anchor for the children and has helped to put some stability in their lives. She has supported me all the way, even when she did not see a light at the end of the tunnel, because she knows I was following the Lord. She is the best wife a pastor can have and the best mother to our wonderful three children. I am a better man because of her,” Carr said.

Carr pastored the Glen Baptist Church here in SVG from 1991 to 2001 when he left St Vincent and the Grenadines to pursue a Bachelor of Arts Degree at the Baptist College of Florida (Graceville), with the intention of returning to SVG on completion.

“I have learned that our plans are not God’s plans,” he said.

After graduating Magna Cum Laude with a BA in Leadership and a minor in counselling in 2006, Carr proceeded to the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, from which he graduated in 2011 with a Masters of Divinity in Christian Ministry.

He said he thought that would be his last time in school, but he was then awarded a presidential scholarship to pursue a Doctor of Ministry in Biblical Counselling.

“Never realized in my wildest dreams, did I think that I would have reached this far academically,” he disclosed.

“It’s all an act of God,” he told Searchlight.

Since becoming pastor at Baptist Center Church, Carr has baptized the first African American couple in the church.

Reverend Carr is a former student of the St Vincent Grammar School, a former Scout leader, Jaycee and teacher.

Before joining the Kingstown Baptist Church, Carr was a member of the Anglican church. He said as a youth, he had dreamed of becoming an Anglican priest.