Holy Week @ Burnette Baptist Church

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  • I am in Detroit, Michigan. I “lost a day” yesterday. It was a little after 8 AM when I got on the plane at LAX. And it was close to 5 PM when I got off the plane in Detroit. It was a long, bumpy flight. But, thank God, it landed. That’s all that matters. But flights like that drain my energy and leave me kind of sore. I got something to eat. Checked into my room. Shaved and showered. And it was time to go to church.

    Last night, I began three nights at the Burnette Baptist Church. I first preached there when I was 17 years-old. Dr. L.A. Kessee was scheduled to do their Holy Week services in 1990. And because of illness, he was not able to attend. So he recommended me to Dr. J. Allen Caldwell. And Dr. Caldwell invited me, without knowing anything about me, based on Pastor Kessee’s recommendation. And he kept inviting me, right up to the last year of his life in 2005. Dr. Caldwell is one of the men who adopted me, as it were. He kindness, wisdom, and encouragement has been an immeasurable blessing on my life and ministry. And the Burnette Church is family to me. Dr. Nathan Caldwell, Dr. J. Allen’s son and co-pastor, now leads the church. And from every report I have received, he is doing a great job. Last night, I was able to see for myself. And I praise God that this great congregation is growing again and continuing its wonderful legacy of faithful ministry.

    Admittedly, last night was a little strange for me. I came into the auditorium and was really captivated with all that had changed since last time I was here. Some of the changes were major; others were minor. But when you add them all up, it was all pretty overwhelming for me. I could feel Dr. J. Allen’s absence, if that makes since. I could see all the progress that he had made. I saw so many familiar faces; yet, many new faces. Even the style of music had changed since last time I was here. There was a praise team leading the service! The platform was arranged differently. When I got up to preach, I had to work hard to concentrate. But I got through it. As I started preaching, our mutual familiarity with one another began to put the message in a certain “comfort zone,” and made it rather easy to preach. I was like being at home again. I have two more messages to preach, tonight and tomorrow night. Then I will be headed back home to be with my own congregation for our Good Friday Service. Pray for the remainder of this meeting.


    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.