Greater New Mount Moriah Baptist Church’s pastor Rev. Kenneth James Flowers 20th Pastoral Anniversary celebration at the Ren Cen on Sunday was quite the event.
About 500 people, including parishioners, judges, politicians, and members of Flowers’ family gathered to hear tributes read by Judge Damon Keith and others. Family members waxed funny, philosophic, and sad. Gospel performer Vickie Winans of the famous gospel family held court as the evening’s MC with the chops of a standup comedian who could still belt out a gospel song.
But the guest of honor brought the entire proceeding to a chilling halt with one statement when he spoke to the crowd at the end of the evening:
“As I was coming into the hotel I got a text message from my cardiologist and he shared with me that they did find another blockage, and he shared with me that they need to put a stent in my main artery.”
“I want to end on a high note, because he wants to get it done as quick as we can so I told him to go and set it up. It was not the open heart again.”
Flowers had triple bypass surgery on January 7th of 2015.
“I know that God has all power in his hands, and I debated wether or not to even share this news with you all because I don’t want anybody to worry. The Lord spoke to me tonight and said you’re in a room full of some praying saints.”
Flowers then invited all the other preachers in the audience to come up. They sat Flowers down in a chair, surrounded him, laid their hands on him, and led the crowd in prayer.
The evening had already seen an emotional tribute from Flowers’ three daughters who, while lamenting the fact that they did not get to always spend quality time with their globe trotting pastor father, and were candid about the clashes they have had with him, nevertheless relished what he has done for them as a father. The announcement about his health put them in tears.
“Being a pastor’s daughter is very, very hard. I know you guys hear it, but if you don’t live it you might not know it,” said Kristiana Flowers, the pastor’s youngest daughter. “When you’re younger it’s very, very hard to understand that your dad has to miss things at a certain time. You have to realize he has a bigger purpose, a bigger thing to do, and just looking around this room I can see that everything he did came with a reason.”
Politics mixed with praise as Judge Damon Keith and former American Israel Public Affairs Committee National President David Victor addressed the crowd. Victor thanked Flowers for his pro-Israel work and called him a great friend of the pro-Israel community.
Victor told the crowd “We have a history together, the Jewish community and the African American community. And we know the African American community doesn’t need to be told or educated about the importance of Israel’s security, the importance of the U.S.- Israel relationship. You understand the moral and biblical imperative of a secure Israel.” Victor called Flowers a pioneer of AIPAC’s outreach in the African-American community.
A proclamation from the Detroit City Council and Mayor’s office was read to the crowd by church member Deborah Pitts Squires, who described Flowers as her best friend.
“When my Mother died Rev was with me every step of the way,” she said.
Before the event, Keith heaped high praise on the pastor he met and mentored 20 years ago.
“My job as a federal judge is reading people, and as soon as I saw him and talked to him I knew we had a Christian superstar on our hands. That’s wonderful. He succeeded Ben Hooks, and they had to select (a new pastor), someone with the potential that could keep up the tradition of Ben Hooks, and I’m very proud of him. He’s involved himself in the NAACP, the United Negro College Fund, the Black Pastors of Detroit, and I’m just so proud.
“Detroit has never been the same since Rev. Ken Flowers came.”