About 25 years ago, Neighborhood CPA Dennie Brown called me and told me that the Attorney needed a “faith” column, and he knew exactly the man for the job: Dr. George Mason, the former University of Miami football player and the relatively new senior pastor at Wilshire Baptist Church.
This combination of faith and football, especially in Texas, intrigued me.
Mason, who at age 32 became Wilshire’s 4th senior pastor, sat down with Brown (whom I didn’t know before his phone call) and me for lunch, and we discussed topic ideas. possible and reasons why readers might find it interesting.
We all recognized the Attorney is not a denominational publication, nor is it our intention to push people into, away from or around religion. We are, and always have been, a publication dedicated to writing about neighbors, neighborhoods and what is happening around us.
The more we talked about it, however, the more we realized that faith is a big part of neighborhood life: whatever your faith, and even if you don’t adhere to or even dislike organized religion. , life is built around beliefs, and a column about these beliefs without being judgmental might be an interesting read at those times in our lives when a little faith is needed.
And that’s how the chronicle vanished for the last 300 months or so – George spoke about the faith, neighborhood issues, and the relationship between them. Some of you liked what he had to say. Some of you have been, shall we say, less captivated by his thoughts. And I hope all of you who are Attorney readers have frequently, or at least occasionally, found some wisdom in his remarks over the years.
Fast forward to today: George has announced his retirement from his post at Wilshire, effective May 1 – his last day to preach in Wilshire and likely his last monthly column for the Attorney – and August 31, when his role as senior pastor of Wilshire officially ends after 33 years.
“Write for the Attorney allowed me to use spiritual muscles that I would not otherwise have exercised by just being a pastor, ”says George. “Being a public theologian requires an awareness of neighbors of other faiths and of those who claim none. Yet coming together to build community is something that all of our religious and ethical traditions can come together for.
“It was a joy to have this forum. I have had the added blessing of meeting people all over Dallas who feel like they know me through this monthly column. I am grateful to Attorney for the privilege.
George’s tenure in Wilshire has been both turbulent and, at times, controversial.
Under his leadership, women were ordained, divorced people were allowed to serve as deacons, and the church began offering full membership to those baptized in other Christian traditions. Unsurprisingly, these and other decisions led Wilshire to end her relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000 and help train the Baptist Cooperative Scholarship, a more moderate national group.
In 2016, the Wilshire congregation voted for the full inclusion of LGBT people. This decision sparked much acrimony (and a story by Keri Mitchell in the Attorney). A number of longtime Wilshire parishioners disliked the outcome of the vote and left the church, which also severed long-standing ties with the Texas Baptist General Convention.
“We believe there will be many positive consequences for being able to tell the LGBT community that they are fully welcome here in Christ,” George told the Dallas Morning News at the time.
George and Wilshire also stepped up their efforts when the Ebola virus hit Dallas in 2014. George ministered to Louise Troh, a member of Wilshire and fiancee of Thomas eric duncan, whose Ebola death sparked the citywide crisis. He and Wilshire teamed up with the Reverend Dr Frederick Haynes and Friendship West Baptist Church to promote racial equity and justice in Dallas. And he helped found the nonprofit organization Commons of Faith with Rabbi Nancy Kasten and Imam Omar Suleiman; the group produces a podcast titled “Good God” that George is hosting.
Wilshire intends to form a search committee to search for a new senior pastor, church officials say.
George’s take on his church and its possible replacement: “There is something rare and special about this church. A spirit of adventure, a courage that is always the feather towards what the Spirit could lead us next.
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