Summary: Personal Testimony
My name is Reginald Levi Walker. Yes, I am a man of God. Born and raised in rural Marion, Alabama, I graduated from American High in Miami Lakes, Florida. In 1986, I was licensed to preach and was later ordained an itinerary elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. I was educated at an AME college, Shorter College in North Little Rock, Arkansas. I am a third generation preacher.
After a short stay in the United States Army, I relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tulsa was where I was first introduced to the African Methodist Episcopal Church. My father, Rev. Roosevelt Leon Walker, Jr., and my mother, Janie Mae Marshall had divorced during my youth and my father had relocated to Tulsa after the Civil Rights Era. Although I have always known that I was destined to preach, my father was the one that inspired me to join the AME church. However, I had no concept of the depths of God’s calling on my life.
Although I received some theological education from Jackson Theological Seminary at Shorter College, my true spiritual education is continually being given to me through my walk with God. In 1986, I was given my first appointment to pastor by Bishop F. C. James. Rev. George Edward West was the presiding elder of the Fort Smith district of the AME church. I first meet Rev. West in Tulsa at St. John AME church.
I had been licensed as a deacon and Rev. West needed a pastor for one of the churches on the Fort Smith district. I never quite found out what happened; nevertheless, I was appointed as the pastor of Derrick’s Chapel AME Church outside of Fort Smith, Arkansas. It was here where I met and later married Velda West.
The first week of October 1986 was a very busy week. That Monday, I had moved into the old wood frame church parsonage next to the church. On Tuesday, I met with Presiding Elder West and he hired me as the Assistant Manager at West Apartments. On Wednesday, I traveled back to Tulsa to gather some more things and arrived back to Arkansas just in time for Wednesday night prayer and bible study. On Thursday, after work, I went back to Tulsa one last time for a revival. Then Friday, after work, Rev. and Mrs. West picked me up at the parsonage for the weekly Friday night ritual of High School football. Saturday, Rev. West and I drove across the state of Arkansas to West Memphis for a church meeting and then drove back for church the next day.
That Sunday morning, I arrived to the old white church building a little late and very tired. My first church conference was scheduled for today and I had stayed up late to finished all of my conference reports. By the time I was reaching for the old unpainted wooden door to the white cylinder block church building, I silently shouted to myself, ‘Reggie, you forgot your reports.’
As I rushed back across the green lawn to the church parsonage, the telephone began to ring. I wrestled to open the door and answered the telephone by the fourth ring. ‘Thank you for calling Derrick’s Chapel AME Church. This is Rev. Walker speaking.’
‘Hello, Preacher. This is G. Edward West. How are you doing this morning?’
I nervously replied to Rev. West, ‘I am alive; so I can not complain, Presiding Elder.’
Rev. West continued, ‘Listen, Preacher. I will not be there with you today. I will be at Quinn Chapel, this Sunday.’
‘Okay.’ I replied hoping he could not hear the relief in my voice.
He continued, ‘But my wife and my daughter will be there to represent me and to receive your reports.’
‘Yes, sir.’ I replied. Our conversation continued for a few more minutes before I hung up the telephone. Retrieving the reports from the coffee table, I again headed for the church building across the lawn. By this time, it was 10:45 am and Mr. George Perkins was ending the Sunday school class.
Derrick’s Chapel was a very small church. In 1986, the membership roll listed only 36 members and only 12 of those were active in the church. As I entered, the sanctuary Mr. Perkins directed everyone’s attention to me. ‘Our pastor has just arrived. Rev. Walker do you have anything to say before we adjourn Sunday school class.’
I quickly greeted the few member of the Sunday school class and briefed them on the conversation with the presiding elder. After my short remarks, I retreated to the pastor’s study to prepare myself for the Sunday morning service.
Fifteen minutes passed by quickly as I sat reviewing some of the sermons I had previously written. Normally, I would write a new sermon each Sunday; however, because of the past few days I did not have the time. I decided to preach one of the sermons I had preached when I was staying in Tulsa.