Pastor Flakes celebrates 50 years at 4th Street Baptist Church - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Pastor Flakes celebrates 50 years at 4th Street Baptist Church

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By Curtis McCloud -   bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Pastor J. H. Flakes has stood at the helm of Fourth Street Baptist Church for half a century. He has literally seen and done it all in his lifetime, never forgetting what brought him to Columbus in the late 1950s.

Pastor Flakes told me that he was asked to preach at a church in Phenix City at the same time his son had fallen ill. He was then faced with a difficult choice leave his wife and sick child at the hospital or preach at the service.

"I had to do some praying, and in my spiritual quest God said if you go to work tomorrow I will be with your son," Flakes said.

While at that church service Pastor Flakes met the members of the choir from Fourth Street Baptist Church. They were all really impressed with his preaching skills.

"The next week I got an invitation for the 4th Street Baptist choir to come here and preach and I came and, I've been here every since," Flakes said.

J.H. Flakes took over the reigns as senior pastor at Fourth Street in 1961. A time he calls very challenging, society was at a different place then than it is now.

"We had the segregated lunch counters... you had the black restroom, and the white water fountains, black water fountains and couldn't go to some of the best eating places in town like Morrison's.  I would go down to H.L. Green and you had to order your sandwich on the side." 

Because of racial injustices Pastor Flakes would become a voice for not just the people in his congregation but for thousands in the community. He says that sometimes things were handled the most conventional way and sometimes he ran into problems with others who didn't quite see eye-to-eye with him.

"A lot of people didn't understand it. I was not a team player. I was an odd ball,  but you can't represent God and do everything man want you to do."

Pastor Flakes says looking back he doesn't regret his decision to come to Fourth Street Baptist Church because of it he says he is a better man.

"When I was called here, I was a school dropout.  I dropped out in the 10th grade, and I came here and went to the off campus center at Friendship Baptist Church," Flakes said.

He would go on to graduate from American Baptist College, driving over 700 miles a week between Fourth Street and Good Hope.

Willie Lewis has been a member at the church since 1947, that's 64 years.  He and his family have stood by Pastor Flakes since he first came to the church.

"Pastor Reverend Flakes is the most influential person in my life he has been a tremendous asset to me and my family," Lewis said.

Looking to the future Pastor Flakes hopes his son and other members of the ministry will continue his legacy. He has not mentioned any plans on retiring just yet.

Pastor Flakes says throughout every adversity he has faced over the years his faith and God has never wavered He is thankful to have been at this one church for 50 years and is looking forward to the years ahead.

"Never, never, never give up. It doesn't matter how bad it seems, how difficult it is, or how many road blocks are in your way. Never give up," encouraged Flakes.

Copyright 2011 WTVM. All rights reserved.

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