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Rev. W.M. Norwood, still strong in his 90s, Will Open State Baptist Convention

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Dr. W.M. Norwood, pastor, Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Ensley.
By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times

The Rev. Dr. W.M. Norwood, pastor of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Ensley, has been a minister for more than 80 years but there’s one thing he’s yet to do – preach a sermon at opening session of the Alabama State Missionary Baptist Convention.

That’s about to change.

Norwood will give the sermon at 6 p.m. during the Welcome Service on Tuesday, Nov. 12 during the 152nd Annual Session of the State Missionary Baptist Convention held in Birmingham Nov. 10 through Nov. 14 at First Baptist Church of Ensley. The Rev. Al Sharpton is the guest speaker.

Norwood said he is honored to speak at the welcome service.

“Ordinarily, the entertaining churches sponsor their own welcome, but the president [Dr. Melvin Owens, of the Alabama State Missionary Baptist Convention] asked me to do it this year and this is the first time in the history of the convention that they’re going to have a sermon on the welcome night,” said Norwood. “Being the oldest pastor in the convention, that’s why he wanted me to bring The Word and it’s good. I’m excited and I’m just happy to bring the Word of God to the people of the convention and to the community.”

Norwood, who is in his 90s, has been pastor of Macedonia for 66 years, and involved with the [Baptist convention] shortly after he got in the ministry 78 years ago.

“I’ve spoken at everything that Baptists have had from local, state, national to even the Southern Baptist convention, which is white and I worked with them in the admission program for about 37 years,” he said. “The purpose of our convention is for mission and education . . . this convention was organized to support and all of these churches … I support all the phases of the convention.”

Man Of God

Anyone who knows Dr. Norwood, will say he is genuine, humble and an all-around positive person but most of all a true man of God.

“Dr. Norwood is the type of pastor that is the prime example of what ministers should be about,” said Regina Carr-Hope, a member at Macedonia, who serves as the public relations coordinator for the church. “He’s genuine about the Bible, he’s genuine about helping others and his belief … I’ve never been able to witness a minister that can come to the pulpit and quote the scriptures of the Bible, and tell you exactly what it says without the Bible in front of him. He’s very rare… everything about this man as a minister is positive. He is not only my pastor but he is definitely my friend.”

Carr-Hope, who has been a member of Macedonia since she was a small child said Norwood has been there for her and her family at every step.

When her youngest son, Jackstin was killed as a freshman at Miles College, Carr-Hope said Norwood checked on her every day. “He would call and check on me for not just a month or 12 months, but for years until he felt comfortable knowing that I was better. He walked me through my grieving.”

Norwood baptized Carr-Hope’s oldest son, Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr, when Danny was 8-years-old.

“I’ve always had him in my life as that spiritual guidance and spiritual leader,” said Carr. “He has also been a beacon of light for our family when we were going through hard times so he’s been a lot of things to a lot of people throughout the Ensley community and even throughout this state.”

He added, “He’s a pioneer. He’s walking, living history. He’s been in the pulpit for all those years and been at one church for over 60 years, he’s a walking Bible. His impact has been seen from generations down, even when I attended kindergarten at Macedonia before starting elementary school, he has educated a lot of kids in that community,” Carr said. “He has raised a lot of kids in the Ensley community.”

Norwood’s impact can also be seen on younger ministers in the church.

Rev. Travell Christion, a pulpit minister at Macedonia and a member since 2011, said the first time he attended the church, [Norwood] “spotted me out in the audience and told me to come up to the pulpit because a pastor shouldn’t be sitting in the audience,” he said. “I had spoken with a lot of pastors about finding a particular church where I could be trained and not only trained but given that spiritual wisdom that I needed.”

Spokesperson Of The Gospel

Christion was licensed as a minister by Norwood in 2012 and was ordained by him in 2013.

“I respect his journey as senior pastor of a church because it allows me to know what I feel is right and what is wrong as a pastor and he has encouraged my heart and has helped in every which way… you can see the anointing on him just by the way he dresses and the way he carries himself. I think he is the example of what Christ wanted His spokesperson of The Gospel to be.”

Macedonia member and attorney Glennon Threatt, has been a member for only two years but said Norwood is not like any other preacher he has ever seen.

“I’ve known a lot of pastors, because not only have I been to a lot of churches but I’m a lawyer and I have represented a lot of pastors, some with churches much larger than ours but Rev. Norwood is a person who does it for the right reasons,” said Threatt. “He’s not in it for the money. He’s a little over 90 years old and he has a better memory than most people a quarter of his age.”

Norwood’s daughter, Geraldine N. Fuller, is also still a member of the church and proud of her father and pastor as one.

“He’s well respected by all of us, family, friends and church family and I think that is what makes a great pastor and great dad also,” she said. “I think the lifestyle that he’s lived is what makes people respect him. His impact on the community has all been positive. I’m proud of him and so are my siblings and our church family as well.”