The Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church of Los Angeles celebrates 72 years of Christian witness today. And I celebrate with Mt. Sinai today, even though I am on the other side of the country.
My personal, spiritual, and ministerial roots are deep in the soil of Mt. Sinai.
My father – H.B. Charles, Sr. – was the second pastor of Mt. Sinai. He led the church for more than 40 years. It was the only thing I ever saw my father do. My mother was both the church secretary and minister of music at Mt. Sinai.
I still have family in Mt. Sinai. Mt. Sinai is my family.
Jesus Christ saved me through the ministry of Mt. Sinai. I was baptized there. The members of that church nurtured my faith. I received my call to preach as a boy at Mt. Sinai. I was licensed and ordained to Christian ministry by Mt. Sinai. I was married in Mt. Sinai. All three of my children were born at Mt. Sinai. When my children talk about their family in Los Angeles, they primarily mean Mt. Sinai.
In November 1990, I became the third pastor of Mt. Sinai. And I poured myself into the church for almost 18 years. At the same time, the members poured themselves into me.
My last Sunday as Pastor-Teacher of Mt. Sinai was on its 66th church anniversary, September 2008, when they tearfully sent me to Jacksonville to begin my new pastoral assignment at the Shiloh Church.
My book, On Preaching, was published earlier this year. I dedicated the book to Mt. Sinai. It reads:
I joyfully dedicate this book to the beloved members of the Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church of Los Angeles. You introduced me to the Lord Jesus Christ. I preached my first sermon to you, as an eleven-year-old body. At the age of seventeen, while just a senior in high school, you called me to be your pastor. And you faithfully and eagerly listened to me preach and teach the Word to you for eighteen years. Enjoying some good preaching and enduring a lot of bad preaching, you continually encouraged and supported me. Most of the principles I write about in this book, I learned while serving you. And I practiced them on you! I am what I am because of the investment you made in me.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. – Philippians 1:3-5
Happy Birthday, Mt. Sinai!