Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wilson noted for community involvement
By SUE WATSON
R.J. Wilson, pastor of Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, brings a lot of talent and knowledge to the Holly Springs and Marshall County area.
What many may not know is that he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the Technical Institute of Bible Studies in Mobile, Ala.
He is involved both in the pastoral community as well as the community at large as a teacher, volunteer, hospice chaplin, and board or committee member of various organizations.
Wilson was born in Los Angeles, California, graduated from Fremont High School, then served in the U.S. Navy from 1963 to 1967.
In further preparation for life, Wilson graduated from Vermont Beauty College in 1969 and is a licensed cosmetologist.
Later he attended Pepperdine University earning a bachelor’s in sociology in 1976. But it was in 1982 that Wilson said he was called to preach at the Union Baptist Church in Oakland, Calif.
Then he moved to Las Vegas where he pastored the Greater Carver Baptist Church from 1987 to 1993. While living in California and Nevada, Wilson was employed 20 years as a probation officer.
Wilson accepted the call to pastor at Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in October 1993.
He went on to obtain a master’s in theology at Jacksonville Theological Seminary in Olive Branch in 2002. Wilson said his life has been about volunteerism and community involvement.
Besides his duties as a minister, Wilson’s first job after arriving in Marshall County was handling in-school suspension/character education at the Holly Springs Primary School (1997-’04) and then he worked another year with in-school suspension at Holly Springs Junior High and as a teaching assistant at Henry Jr. High from 1994-’97.
Since then he has served as a substitute teacher three years.
A Baptist and grandson of the late Elder Fred Little, also a pastor with COGIC, Wilson has been a member and leader of a diverse group of organizations.
He is second vice president of the New Educational State Baptist Convention, Miss.; first vice president of the Holly Springs-Marshall County Baptist Association; a member of the board of directors of Alliance Charitable Foundation of Marshall County; a member of the board of directors of the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce; a member of the advisory board of the Holly Springs School District, strategic planning; and a select representative for Northern Mississippi in 2004 to serve as an advisor to the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence initiative, sponsored by the Memphis Theological Seminary and the Lilly Foundation.
For three years, Wilson hosted the Mainline radio broadcast on WKRA.
He’s also assisted Alliance Community Foundation in putting on workshops and health fairs.
Locally, Wilson has answered the call to help out at local events of the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce.
“We were fortunate to have him serve on the Chamber of Commerce board of directors and committees,” said chamber member Lisa Cole. “We need more volunteers like Rev. Wilson to assist with community development and chamber events.”
Wilson helps organize the Gospel Jamboree at the annual Kudzu Festival, helps with the annual Walking Horse Classic sponsored by the chamber, and is a volunteer with the Marshall-Benton County Job Fair.
Wilson stepped up to be a first member of the newly organized Ministerial Breakfast about eight years ago, according to Lavora Blake.
“He asked a lot of questions which was good and was able to get other ministers to attend the breakfast and gospel groups to help with the Gospel Jamboree,” Blake said. “He helps make the Kudzu Festival a success.”
Susan Jordan said Wilson’s volunteerism has been important to the community.
“He is very generous with his time and talents at a time when people are stretched so thin,” she said. “And he wants to help people - especially as relates to his work with the job fair - to have opportunities that better their lives.”
Wilson also is a volunteer with the Clydesdale Christmas Store.
His wife, Flo, who works in accounts payable at the central office of the Holly Springs School District, is also active at Mt. Moriah MB Church, where she is involved with the teaching ministry.
They are proud parents of four children and four grandchildren including one set of twins.
Wilson is one of three siblings of the late Jessie B. Wilson and Ryal J. Wilson Sr. of California. His brother Curtis lives in California and his late sister, Carolyn Jones, lived in Memphis.
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