He was 26 years old and had a head full of hair when he came to St. Matthew AME Church in Orange.
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Now he's bald and not as svelt at age 58.
Rev. Reginald T. Jackson was filled with mixed emotions at a recent Sunday service, jokingly talking to his congregation, wondering where the years have gone.
"I tell you time is filled with swift transition,'' he said.
When he first arrived at the church, there were 100 members. There are more than 1,000 now.
And many of them filled the pews Nov. 11 to watch him preach his last sermon before he takes on his new role as Bishop for the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
They listened to his wife, Christy Davis-Jackson, thank them for the journey, their two children standing by their side.
The choir, dressed in purple and black, had the congregation on their feet, and the liturgical dancers made everybody move.
The pastor took it all in, swaying from side to side, reflecting on his years in ministry and how the power of the black church has informed and shaped his life.
Jackson's road to the ministry began in Atlanta at a renowned theological center, where two-thirds of all black seminary students in the country are trained.
While he was a student there, two congressional candidates who were involved in a runoff election were invited to appear before the black preachers. The candidate who didn't appear ended up losing the race.
"I saw these ministers and the tremendous impact they had," Jackson recalls. "That moved me.''
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SOURCE: The Star-Ledger