Pastor William Turner, Jr. has charted a record number of milestones during his long ministerial career.
Now marking his 50th year as the spiritual leader of New Revelation Missionary Baptist Church, Turner joins an elite group of ministers who served a half-century or more at the same church in its original location in same city.
To recognize his achievements, the congregation plans a 50th Jubilee Celebratory Gala on Friday, Oct. 27, at 6 p.m., at the Pasadena Hilton, 168 S. Los Robles Ave., in Pasadena. Danny Bakewell, Jr., Sentinel executive editor, will emcee the event.
The impressive numbers that Turner accumulated during his ministry are definitely a reason for celebration. When he came to New Revelation in 1967, there were 25 members on the roll. Over the past five decades, he has baptized more than 20,000 people, preached more than 6,300 sermons, married over 1,550 couples and officiated at 1,500 funerals.
Turner also spearheaded the building of a new sanctuary and community center featuring classrooms, a commercial kitchen, library/computer lab, and a full court gymnasium. As a result, the value of the church’s property increased from $35,000 and to its current net worth of $5,000,000.
Reflecting on his accomplishments, Turner is clear where the credit belongs, proclaiming, “I have been sustained by the Holy Spirit. God’s Word says, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ I tried Him and found out that it works.”
That scripture has guided Turner since he accepted the call to preach 53 years ago. At the time, he said, “I was doing alright for myself. I was the owner of a successful business, making more money than ever. I had seven full-time employees; but I gave it up to take on a walk of which I had no knowledge.
“I stood before the altar and prayed for a holy intervention. I became a willing instrument in the hands of the Holy Spirit. So, from then to now, the Holy Spirit has been leading and directing my paths. Between now and then, I have witnessed the Holy Spirit take the “IM” out of ‘impossibility.’”
Turner added that the Holy Spirit made it possible to build the New Revelation edifice on Orange Grove Boulevard despite the city of Pasadena’s initial disapproval and the banks’ refusal to grant a loan. But empowered by his faith, Turner persisted and completed construction of the church.
“Jet Magazine did a cover story on the church. The first question was asked: ‘How can you build a church this size in six-months?’ I smiled, and said, ‘It really was built in six-and-one-half months, because we were led by the Holy Spirit,’” recalled Turner.
He further illustrates his commitment to God through past tenures as president of the Western Baptist State Convention and the Pasadena Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance as well as his current appointment as first vice president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles and Southern California.
In 1978, Turner persuaded Fuller Theological Seminary to allow pastors with five-years of experience to enroll their Master’s of Divinity degree program, which opened the door for many African American clergy to attend the school. Most recently, he was instrumental in uniting four faith organizations to focus on disaster preparedness, which led to a faith leaders representative seat in the L.A. City Emergency Operations Center.
In the area of community service, Turner has held positions on several commissions and boards in Pasadena, he established affordable housing for the homeless and recovering addicts, and he continues to advocate for jobs for city residents. Also, Turner implemented the Youth and Young Adult Alternative to Violence initiative that offers programs in entrepreneurship, job readiness and life counseling.
As for the future, Turner has no plans to slow down. His philosophy is, “Until the whole person is saved, our mission remains. Let’s do God’s will.”