Pastor Dr. Ephraim Williams has led the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Oak Park since 1971. On June 30, 2019 Dr. Williams announced his retirement as the Senior Pastor of the St. Paul Baptist Church.
There has not been an in-person church service at the campus of the church since March due to the COVID-19 shutdown orders issued by the state. But the parishioners made it a point of emphasis to make sure his glorious exit would be a special one.
While socially distancing himself outside the Dr. Ephraim Williams Family Life Center seated in a chair, a cavalcade of vehicles driven by members of St. Paul drove by to passionately salute him.
It was a noble deed to let Dr. Williams know he was truly appreciated for his dedication, commitment, guidance, and love of people. It’s an end of an era but it is also the beginning of a well-earned retirement.
Last fall, the church hosted an anniversary-retirement banquet to celebrate the 49 years of impeccable service and leadership that Dr. Williams has provided not only to St. Paul but the Sacramento community as a whole.
On Sept. 18, 2019, the church held a special business meeting and voted to elect Pastor Kenneth Reece as Assistant Pastor and successor to Dr. Ephraim Williams as Senior Pastor of St. Paul.
Pastor Reece graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in 1983 and obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Religion and Philosophy from Jarvis Christian College in 1991.
He was ordained to the ministry in 1994 at St. Paul Baptist Church of Sacramento under Dr. Williams. Pastor Reece held the position of St. Paul Baptist Church’s very first full time Staff Minister from 1992 until 1996.
On Dec. 22, 1996, Pastor Reece was commissioned by God to pastor the Rose Olivet Baptist Church in San Francisco. In 1999, through the Lord’s direction, he led the Rose Olivet church family into a merger with the Concord Missionary Baptist Church, also of San Francisco.
The merger was celebrated on June 11, 2000, and the combined church is now called Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church, affectionately nicknamed “The Stone.”
Dr. Williams has served in various religious and civic organizations such as the National Baptist Convention, USA Inc, California State Baptist Convention, United Pastors of Sacramento, Northern District Baptist Association, and the Southern Baptist Convention.
In addition, the pastor has done spiritual work with the Sacramento Urban League, NAACP, Sacramento City Unified School District, Women’s Civic Improvement Center, and Sacramento Black Alcoholism Center to name a few.
Dr. Williams was the overseer of two significant establishments, including the building of the church on 14th Avenue as well as the Family Life Center, which bears his name. Both of the properties’ mortgages were paid off before the due dates.
Also, under Dr. Williams leadership, St. Paul grew from 171 parishioners to more than 4,000. He did it all with his wife Carrie Sue Williams by his side. Ms. Williams left this life on May 6, 2009.
Dr. Williams was invited to the White House by President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama, to participate in dialogue regarding issues impacting the African American community.
By Antonio R. Harvey | Observer Staff Writer
Video from Russell by Ray Johnson