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Legendary Pastor W.M. Norwood celebrated on “95th-plus” birthday

Rev W.M. Norwood, pastor at Macedonia Baptist Church in Ensley during his surprise birthday parade. (Erica Wright, The Birmingham Times)
By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times

It was a celebration fit for a king.

Friends and family gathered last Friday to celebrate the birthday of the legendary Rev. W.M. Norwood, pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in Ensley for 67 years, who has been in ministry for 82.

No one knows Rev. Norwood’s exact age and he won’t say. However, those who know him say he’s “95-plus.”

The surprise birthday celebration in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic came with a parade caravan that adhered to social distancing guidelines.

The motorcade began at Jackson-Olin High School, which is a block away from the church, and drove by Macedonia. Cars were decorated with signs and balloons wishing Norwood a Happy Birthday and there was a table to collect gifts and cards.

“It was a wonderful surprise and a shocking surprise,” said Norwood, “I want to thank everybody for everything and for their thoughtfulness, I thought people got together like this when you die so I’m glad everybody got together while I’m still here. I hope to be here for the next 90 years and for it be even better.”

Following the parade, participants met in the church parking lot to sing Happy Birthday to the pastor.

With his church closed for the past month because of COVID-19, Norwood said it was inspiring to see his congregation again.

“We have to keep the faith and trust the Lord because He sees us through everything and there is nothing that He can’t handle,” said Norwood. “Nothing lasts always, trouble does not last always and sunshine is always followed by the rain. It will be a great day of Thanksgiving when we’re together again for those who made it through the crisis for only The Lord and His guiding hand could bring us through.”

Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr, who has attended Macedonia since he was a child, said it was humbling to attend the celebration.

“To be a young man from Ensley in an area where a lot of people say nothing good comes . . . and to be a product of this community and be at this church all my life, to be baptized by this pastor when I was 5 years old and for him to still be here is a blessing from God,” said Carr. “I’m grateful for him and I want him to know he is a huge reason why I’m able to be in a position I’m in today. Not only is he my spiritual leader but I consider him almost like a father… I miss him a lot but I’m glad to see him today and he looks like he has 100 more years.”