IRVINGTON, NJ — The congregation of Christian Love Baptist Church celebrated its first Easter Sunday on March 27, since the death of its charismatic pastor, the Rev. Ron Christian, last year.
The theme of the Easter Sunday sermon Rev. Alfreddy Fletcher delivered was “You can’t keep a good man down,” saying that the same can be said of Christian’s legacy.
Fletcher said Rev. Ron, similar to Christ, lives on after death in the hearts, minds and works of his congregation. But before he preached that message to the masses who filled the church on Lyons Avenue to capacity during the 11 a.m. service, Fletcher dedicated a new bench to him.
“Saints of God, on this Resurrection Sunday we remember the life of our Rev. Ron Christian,” said Minister Tamara Cunningham during the dedication ceremony on Sunday, March 27. “We remember that, after services, the line would be out the door to talk to our pastor and, most of the time, he would talk to people and counsel people and minister to them on that bench right outside the side door. On that bench, people were saved; marriages were restored; people would go from feeling bad about themselves to giving God the glory for saving their lives.”
Cunningham said, “In honor of that man and his life and his legacy, we have a special unveiling.” She went on to say another tribute would be unveiled Friday, April 8, at Beth Israel Hospital on Lyons Avenue in Newark at the grand opening of the new Rev. Ron Christian Health and Wellness Center.
“We’re so blessed that we continue to be blessed by the works he did in life being recognized and celebrated after his death,” said Cunningham. “Praise God.”
From there, Cunningham proceeded to hand the microphone to interim Pastor William Christian, who brought Rev. Ron’s mother, Willie Mae Christian, and other surviving family members out on to the dais for the commemorative bench dedication ceremony.
“So many would come — the officers, the politicians — they would ride by and see Rev. Ron sitting out on that bench and he would minister to them from it,” said Kiki Goins-Morris, the leader of the Christian Love Baptist Church Praise Dancers, on Sunday, March 27. “He did so much work on this bench. Rev. Ron loved crabs and I would see him out there eating crabs and shrimp and he told so many stories and you would talk an hour and he would say his favorite saying: God be the glory. He loved to sit with his mother and talk and minister and he had time for everyone.”
Margaret Woodson, co-chairperson of the Christian Love Baptist Church Deacon Board, said she was “amazed and astonished and with wonderment in my heart at the man that stood here Sunday after Sunday, after Sunday, after Sunday and after Sunday and opened up the book of God and read from it and preached on it and taught us love and forgiveness, like his son Jesus did.”
“So today, I am so honored to stand here on behalf of that wonderful man that loved Jesus so much,” said Woodson. “So I would like to say: Thank you all for coming out today and being a part of this.”
“I met Pastor Ron 4 years ago. From the day I walked through those doors, this church was built on love,” said Mother Tee at the service. “This man was different. The floors have Bibles that he ripped up and put under there so that we all could be anointed. This man built this church on nothing but love. Let nothing divide this church.”
William Christian said “Mother Tee’s heart melted” when Rev. Ron died. And even though he believes “It’s still not back together yet,” he and everyone else in Christian Love Baptist Church on Easter Sunday wanted to hear from her about Rev. Ron.
Tee went on to say Christian Love Baptist Church is a family church because of Rev. Ron and God. She said he would “put us before his family; it’s time for us not to put his family before us.”
“He did so much for us; I mean he paid bills; put heat and hot water boilers in people’s houses; and I would be mad at him,” she added. “His anniversary money, it came in and it went out and I would be mad at him. But he would say: ‘Tee, it’s nothing but money, we have to share, we have to give.’ So on that note, we need to come together and stay together and let no man divide Christian Love.”
Willie Mae Christian agreed with Mother Tee, saying that, in addition to the refurbished bench dedicated to her son’s memory, the best way to keep his legacy and life’s work alive was to keep his ministry and church family going strong.
“I thank each and every one of you for your support, for your prayers, and please continue to pray for us,” said Willie Mae Christian on Sunday, March 27. “As I said earlier, he made sure there was a school here at the church that I could work in, so he brought two classrooms over here. He always wanted me to be with him. So this way, I saw him almost every day, and one day, he jumped through the window and said: ‘I gotta kiss my mother. I’ll be right back; I gotta kiss my mother.’ He jumped right through the window.”
Fletcher said enthusiasm such as that was why you couldn’t keep a good man such as Rev. Ron down.
“While the rest of the world is celebrating the Easter Bunny we celebrate our living God,” said Fletcher on Sunday, March 27. “For believers, this is the greatest day in the world for us.”