Monday, November 10, 2008

Interview with Rev. Emil Thomas

So pastor, what was the first thing on your mind as you woke up this morning?

Hmmm, let’s see… Several things. I was thinking about the kind of music that I want at Destiny! Church, and so I think I began to pray for a musician that could play Gospel and popular music, like Hip-hop. And of course, I was praying that this election won’t end up with all of the confusion that we saw in 2000. Maybe I should have answered that question by saying “I woke up this morning with my mind stayed on Jesus” huh…

Well if you were praying for a musician I guess your mind was kind of stayed on Jesus! Why do you want that kind of music at Destiny! Church?

Well, my vision for Destiny! is a non-traditional church that is contemporary and that reaches everybody in the city, especially those who may not come out of a church background. Plus, I flat out would like to see some dancing and rapping up in my church along with some old-school gospel music.

So do you come from a church background?

Actually I do. I was raised in Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Flint, Michigan, but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t getting my dance on Friday and Saturday night.

So were you a church boy then?

Hah! The people in my church didn’t think so! But my friends in my neighborhood knew I went to church.

When did you become a Christian?

I accepted Jesus at a Tom Skinner Crusade in my Junior year in High School. Tom Skinner was a brother who was raised in Harlem as a preacher’s kid, but had this double life in a gang. He eventually became a great preacher with a very non-traditional ministry that led crusades in a lot of inner-city communities back in the day.

Tell me some more about your background.

Like what?

Well, your schooling. Did you go to public or private schools or what?

I went to a public schools in my hometown and graduated from Central High school and then went to black college in Dallas that was called Bishop College. Then I went on to seminary at Union in New York City and Princeton in New Jersey.

What about your ministry?

Well, I started preaching in college, was ordained by my hometown pastor, Rev. Roy I Greer, and went to Harlem and became an assistant for Dr. Wyatt Walker at Canaan Baptist Church. I’ve been pastoring ever since.

What about Destiny! Church? How did it come about?

It had been in my heart for a long time to try to do some creative things in the city of Washington. I have had some success in mentoring programs that have taken teenagers to Africa, street evangelism and outreach programs, but I had it in my heart to take it to another level. I really want to reach people in the community through the arts and see if we can stop the violence and help young people achieve their dreams. I believe that God has a destiny for every person, and life is sweet when they find it. I read this scripture in I Samuel 14 in which I believed God was telling me to “Go For It!” So a group of people started praying with me about the idea of starting a church, and on August 1, Destiny! Church began!

Where are you meeting now?

We will be launching our new site in the auditorium of Kelly Miller Middle School at 11:00 a.m. on November 14. It’s a brand new school with a beautiful auditorium at 301 49th Street, N.E. in Washington, D.C. Are you coming?

You didn’t have to ask that question! Definitely. Now let me ask you just a few more personal things about yourself.

Like what?

Your favorite things.

O.k., but I have a lot of favorite things…

Who is your favorite musical artist?

Popular or Gospel?

Let’s start with popular.

I can listen to Bob Marley’s music any day. He inspires me. And then Mary J. Blige can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned.

What about Gospel?

Rance Allen and Donnie McClurkin.

Who is your favorite author?

Alexandre Dumas and Soren Kierkegaard.

What is your favorite movie?

There’s no way I can give just one to that! I saw “Fahrenheit 9/11” twice this past summer. I’m a big fan of Spike Lee flicks. To me his best was “Bamboozled,” closely followed by “When We Were Kings;” the documentary he did on the Rumble in the Jungle between Ali and Foreman. And I have to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” at least once each year.

Your favorite color?

Azure Blue.

Your favorite place?

Anywhere on the island of Jamaica.

Who are your heroes?

Wyatt Tee Walker and Jesse Jackson.

What is your favorite website?, of course! I also like to check in to see what Joel Osteen is doing at also. His late father, John Osteen had a tremendous influence on my life.

And last, but not least, your favorite food?

Pork Chops and Lima Beans on a bed of rice! Thank you, Jesus!

Thank you, pastor!

Thank you!