It’s been a more than eventful stretch for the Rev. Shane B. Scott, who serves as pastor of the historic Macedonia Baptist Church in Los Angeles. In fact, he defines his eight-year tenure as “an incredible ride!”
While the period has been marked by ups-and-downs, Scott enjoys serving his congregation and is pleased with the positive impact that he and the members have made in the Watts community.
“God has been gracious and the people of Macedonia have also been gracious and patient. I have nothing but gratitude for their loving kindness,” he said, reflecting on his time at the church.
Macedonia, which was organized in 1908, is the oldest African American church in the Watts community. But when Scott arrived in 2011, the membership had declined, local demographics had changed and the church’s outreach presence had decreased. Yet, Scott said the members were “loving, receptive and eager for a change,” and working together, the outlook gradually became brighter.
The congregation began to grow; the feeding program increased to twice a week and a community development corporation was established to provide more resources to the neighborhood. The church also expanded its partnerships with organizations such as the Bellflower Symphony, which Macedonia united with last year to present “Christmas in Watts,” and they joined with the L.A. Philharmonic to host a free spring concert on their campus earlier this year.
Although conditions have improved, Scott acknowledged that there is still more work to do. Outlining some of the challenges, he said, “We are rediscovering who we are to be in the present. The community has changed and we have become a commuter church. People are driving in because they no longer live here. So, we are trying to figure out what keeps us relevant and how do we make the Gospel of Jesus Christ relevant where people are still coming and saying, ‘we would see Jesus.’”
Fortunately, insisted Scott, “The Gospel of Jesus Christ is still applicable and relevant to our everyday lives. I think that if you can be respectful of people’s time and resources, then people will be willing to still come to church and lend an ear. I think that there is still room for the church in Watts.”
As an example, he cited Macedonia’s success with their CDC programs. Through the Business Resource Center and Incubator, they have assisted the creator of a tasty cornbread mix with placing her product in grocery stores, helped a plumber increase his trucks from one to three, and aided a former drug addict and rape victim in developing her own treatment center.
“Last year, we gave out over $12,000 in scholarships and endowed a scholarship at American Baptist College seminary of the West. Those are the kinds of things that the church ought to be doing – partnering with the public and private sectors,” said Scott.
Economic justice is another area that the pastor lends his time and talents. He works closely with elected officials like Congresswoman Maxine Waters on community concerns and often travels to Sacramento to add his voice to important issues. Last week, he was in the state capitol to support the passage of AB539, which limits the payday lending interest rate to 27%.
“Interest rates were up to 300% and these predatory loans are not affordable for working-class people. Now they are at 27% through AB539, and while 27% is not great, it is better than 300%,” Scott said.
“That kind of work for me has been absolutely rewarding. To see lives change through economic justice and to feed hungry people twice a week and to see illegal marijuana dispensaries shut down in our community, that helps me to go to bed at night and wake up in the morning,” he added.
Scott’s background has helped him navigate the various roles required in his current position. Prior to Macedonia, he served as senior pastor of St. Rest Baptist Church in Fresno (“where God blessed our work tremendously,” he said) and as the youth and young adult minister at Friendship Baptist Church in Vallejo. Also, the Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown of the historic Third Baptist Church of San Francisco mentored him.
His education includes Bachelor’s and Master of Divinity degrees from American Baptist Seminary of the West. Next month, he will enter a doctoral program at New York Theological Seminary called the Adam Clayton Powell Cohort, which focuses on faith and public policy. In addition, Scott utilizes his business skills as the owner of the House of Winston Funeral Home in L.A.
With so many opportunities on the horizon for Macedonia and himself, Scott said that he hesitates to set a definite path going forward. “I don’t know what God has in store for me in the future, but I am open to what God wants to do. Frankly, I am discerning what God is saying and what God wants.”
Macedonia Baptist Church is located at 1755 E. 114th St., in the Watts area of Los Angeles. To learn more, call (323) 569-9561 or visit macedonia-la.org.