Pastor W T Dandridge is a dynamic young man delivering the word of God to people through music, books, and motivational speaking. During this time of change and struggle, Pastor Dandridge is taking his ministry to the streets of Atlanta and reaching out to communities across the country. Once a month he works with volunteers in Atlanta to serve community dinners to the homeless. His Sons of Solomon Foundation Inc. is a mentorship program designed to teach young African-American males to become entrepreneurs. He is the CEO of LEDNEW Enterprise LLC; a “people investing” business featuring entertainment, publishing, non-profit ventures, health & wellness and apparel. Pastor Dandridge has two books. “After The Comma: A Grammar Lesson On Life” that uses grammatical syntax to illustrate life lessons to help transform you to the person you want to be. “Arrows That Pierce a Woman’s Heart” documents the hurts, struggles and triumphs of women in his community. His CD, “God’s Plan”, provides motivational words with a mix of spoken word and music.
Pastor Dandridge took a moment out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions.
M R: Hello Pastor Dandridge. Thank you for taking a moment for this interview. You were ordained last year at Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. Please share with our readers what the experience was like for you.
W T: This experience was a humbling encounter. I have been in ministry for 13 years now and have been considered for ordination numerous times in the past. Things never seemed to work out in those previous opportunities. I believe timing is everything and I needed to encounter some spiritual battles before this moment could mean anything in my life. The process of ordination challenged me to look at my faith and articulate it in such a way that shows evidence of my calling. I thank my Pastor and mentor Dr. William E. Flippin Sr. for his leadership and believing in my ability to serve God’s people.
M R: At what age did you first feel a gravitation towards the pulpit?
W T: I was 12 when I received my call to the ministry. I was licensed at the age of 14. To be honest, I know I can be effective and powerful in pulpit ministry. However, my heart is for community service and declaring the social gospel. I understand the pulpit as a place of empowerment and only pray each time I stand before God’s people that a word of hope, love, empowerment, and encouragement is spoken through me.
M R: Were there any other ministers in your family at the time you wished to emulate? Or did someone outside your family inspire you?
W T: There are a couple clergy in my family. However, my inspiration comes from my mother. She is not ordained or licensed, but she has impacted greatly my love for God and God’s word. Are there other Pastors and religious leaders I look up to? Sure! Do I seek to emulate any of them? Not at all! I believe the body of believers want genuine servants who aren’t ashamed to embrace their own originality! I want people to be drawn to the spirit of Wendel and not place me in retrospect to other predominant leaders. I understand my unique gifts and respect the unique gifts of other religious leaders.
M R: What were your parents thoughts the first time you mentioned you wanted to be a preacher?
W T: Lawd! To be honest, my mom was supportive. My dad on the other hand expected me to take on a trade and work like he had done. To the same degree there have been some decisions my mother has not totally agreed with. All in all, my parents have enough faith in my destiny to know that God will take care of the path and the path taker. My parents beam with pride now at each accomplishment I have made in life. Parents, like mine, desire so much for their children they did not receive themselves. The struggle as a parent is allowing the child to discover their unique path for manifesting that ultimate result.
M R: I would imagine that feeling “the call” at a young age, many of your friends would pick with you. How did you handle that? And did it ever cause you to doubt what you felt?
W T: If I was picked on I never noticed it! (smiles). To be frank, my peers embraced my ministry even at a young age. I was given the nickname “Bishop” early in life. Now that I think about it, I would operate as the level head and voice of reason to my friends. My friends saw me as a leader and embraced my unique gift and spirituality. It was not until life started “picking with me” that I began to doubt my call. It wasn’t until I was homeless on the streets of Atlanta that I would question if I was doing the right thing by following this call. Nevertheless, I’ve always had the support and encouragement needed to persevere!
M R: The world is constantly going through change and the church, especially the African-American church, has in the past been a stabilizing force to help people through these tough periods. But during the last few years, some churches and church leaders have come under scrutiny for their actions. As a result of this, do you think people are losing faith in God, in the church, or both? If so, what do you think can/needs to be done to restore that faith?
W T: I believe people will always have faith in God. I don’t care how hard life gets, psychologically speaking, people need that belief in a higher being to keep sanity. As long as there are problems greater than us, God will never become irrelevant. The black church has been a staple in the African American community for generations. The black church has been the beacon of light and house of hope for the African American community. The actions of religious leaders have been questionable. Their individual actions have caused the church experience to be under scrutiny. My ray of hope is that I know there are genuine religious leaders who are in the community making a difference. What needs to be done to restore faith in the church universally? The media needs to spotlight those that are impacting the community. To the same degree religious leaders who have a genuine heart need not be ashamed to boast on the good works their ministries are doing. Public opinion matters. However, a church and a Pastor who are intrinsically involved in their particular community will never have to worry about what those outside the community say.
M R: There are a number of mega churches across the country raking in millions of dollars. Some people think these churches are more like corporations than places of worship. Do you believe mega churches have added to the hopelessness some people feel? If so, what can these churches do to improve public perception?
W T: The legalities of church make it difficult to separate it as a place of worship versus a corporation. Churches, like any other organization, needs capital in order to function. I believe churches who remain transparent about their stewardship have nothing to worry about. Now does every penny that leaves the church need to be public information? No. Should people see budgets that impact the community at large? Yes. To combat public perception I believe the church should be transparent with their spending. Particularly to it’s members. If a church has a $2,000,000.00 budget and people see a large majority of that going towards community projects, youth and children’s ministry, outreach services and global missions, people will become hesitant with opinions and assumptions they make about spending.
M R: Homosexuality has always been a sticky subject when it comes to religion. Yet the Bible states love thy neighbor as you love yourself. So why do you believe some, not all, churches have a problem accepting homosexuals? You don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to. I know you have been recently ordained, and I don’t want you to become a target so early in your career.
W T: It’s ok. I don’t mind answering this question. Homosexuality is always brought about as the hot topic in the church. What I have come to realize is the church has a greater issue with sexual sin at large. Sin in general can be a touchy issue. As you have stated, I believe the church needs to learn to love people to a place of redemption and holiness. Regardless of what the sin is, we all do things that others may not view as pleasing to God. Ultimately, our goal should be delivering a word of hope and love. My philosophy is to bring ALL sinners to the church. Once there, trust God to speak to the individual struggles and vices the person is dealing with.
M R: Many of our communities are struggling with a barrage of social issues; unemployment, broken homes, depression, and health issues. What role, if any, should the church play in regards to these and other issues?
W T: You are right. Times are hard for the globe. The first thing I believe the church has been powered to do, is to convey hope to the hopeless. Secondarily, I think the church needs to make people aware that God is still present in troubling situations. Finally, I think the church should remain relevant in offering logical support. If unemployment is an issue, have a job fair or post a board in the church telling people of employment opportunities. If health is a problem, do HIV tests, blood pressure screening or offer an aerobics class. If depression and mental health are issues, retain or employ a psychologist to counsel parishioners at a discount rate or for free. The church should be spiritual and practical as well.
M R: With Black History month coming up soon, put yourself in the shoes of Martin Luther King Jr and tell us what message you believe he would share with the African-American community and the world?
W T: It’s my mantra…. “Dare to Dream”. The African American community and the world needs to hear the trumpet of hope and love for humanity.
M R: I like to end interviews on a light note. What funny thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
W T: Ummmm funny thing….. I have come to be known by some people – primarily women – affectionately as Winnie the Pooh! (smiles)
You can follow Minister W T Dandridge on Facebook, http://twitter.com/wtdandridge , www.youtube.com/user/WTDandrige . You can book Minister Dandridge to speak to your youth group at www.wtdandridge.com and www.wtdandridge.org .