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Francis Grimké on the Minister’s Character

Charlie Wingard

Charlie Wingard

Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary Jackson and Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Yazoo City, Mississippi

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I am thrilled about the forthcoming publication of Francis J.Grimké’s “Meditations on Preaching” by Log College Press.

In the third volume of his collected works, Grimké (1852-1937) spoke frankly about the minister’s moral character:

A minister who is but poorly equipped intellectually, educationally, but who is of good moral character, and of real piety, is greatly to be preferred to the man, however well equipped intellectually and educationally, but who is of questionable character, whose ways are crooked. The one may have to be tolerated, the other should never be: the ministry of the one may result in good, of the other only harm can come. Such a minister discredits the gospel, and becomes an obstacle in the way of the progress of the kingdom of God. A godless minister, an immoral minister, should be nowhere tolerated, should be driven out of all of the churches. We need in the ministry, intelligent men, educated men, but above all God-fearing men,—morally clean men. Where such is not the case, the responsibility rests upon the officials of the churches, and ultimately upon the people who fill the pews and who furnish the means for carrying on the work in the churches. The toleration of immoral, godless ministers is always, therefore, a reflection upon the character of the people themselves, and is a pretty good index of their own characters.*

Grimké served as pastor of Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C . First year preaching students at Reformed Theological Seminary Jackson are introduced to his life, ministry, and writings through Thabiti Anywabile’s The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African-American Pastors.

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*Francis J. Grimké, The Works of Francis J. Grimké, vol. 3, ed. by Carter G. Woodson (Washington, D.C.: The Associated Publishers, Inc., 1942), 121.


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