I received a few requests for the following interview and was delighted to follow up and share my conversation with the Rev. Dr. Pamela C. Holder. When you have the opportunity, I hope that you will join me in welcoming Bethel “A” Baptist Church’s new pastor to our community.
Q: Dr, Holder, what if anything, is your connection to North Carolina?
A: I moved here from New York when I was 4. My mom and dad met in New York. She was from Greensboro, North Carolina. Actually, she was from Oak Ridge, a town just outside of Greensboro. My father had a band. He also got saved.
Q:You had your pastoral installation service at Bethel “A” back in December 2021. How long have you been living here? What do you like, feel inspired by, maybe have any challenges with, not necessarily related to church?
A: I’ve been here since Oct. 30, 2021. I am inspired by the community. It’s small, seems connected, having a lot of locally owned businesses. I don’t see the connection with diversity. There’s not a lot of diversity, which is an adjustment for me.
Q: I understand that you grew up in a musical environment. You sang, played the violin and also traveled with your family here and abroad to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. First, can you share more about the musical talent that surrounded you and possibly inspired you?
A: My dad was a musician. He was a good singer and a pianist. In New York, he was playing R&B, recording and traveling. In North Carolina, they were playing his music here on the radio. My brother and me, from the age of 3, were involved. Black gospel. I was traveling from the age of 4 with my family. In 4th grade, I started playing the violin. I noticed my peers, around the time of integration, leaving school around two to three times a week. I saw one of them carrying a funny looking thing, and I asked, “What’s that?” It was a violin. I wanted to learn and told my parents. They didn’t know if I would stick with it or not, so we rented a violin. I was pretty good and won several awards, playing statewide. My parents saw that I was serious and got me a private teacher and a good violin.
Q: Can you describe what it was like to travel, sharing the Gospel? How old were you? Is that something that you were really inspired to do, or was it more about going along with what the family had in mind to do? Where did your family go? Where did you travel here and abroad?
A: I thought it was just a way of life for us. I enjoyed it then and as an adult. I didn’t complain. I still enjoy travel and ministry. We would have rehearsals. All three of my brothers excelled playing the organ and piano. For me it was violin and vocals, but 10 years ago, I started piano. We traveled up and down the East Coast… New York, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia. We had a private audition, at the Apollo or Carnegie Hall… My brothers would remember more of the details, which led to us going to the Bahamas, Nassau and Freeport. I remember they gave us a parade. We had several concerts and were treated like celebrities. We went up to Canada as well. We sang with the Mighty Clouds of Joy (an American traditional gospel music quartet noted for their rich vocal harmony,) and the Five Blind Boys (another award-winning American gospel group.)
Q:You are a teacher, preac her and singer, all of which in my mind are expressive and have the capacity to transmit and share a message. Any thoughts about how music, song and inspired word can touch other people’s lives?
A: Music, for me it’s soothing. I go back to music in my head to get away. Inspired word…it’s articulated. It calls for me to get a little more in depth. It’s mind stimulating, whereas with music, you can go with the flow. When preparing a message, I want to use my words with a message they can understand. No matter their walk in the Lord, whether they are a new Christian or a seasoned Christian, I want to speak in a way to reach everyone. For it to be understandable and for them not to be bored. I want to be prepared, factual, correct and scriptural.
Q: Your leadership capacities are referenced along with your being a woman of excellence. I was struck by a particular belief that you hold. 1 Corinthians 14:40 was referenced and your believing that all things should be done “decently and in order.” Can you elaborate on what that means to you and how that would look?
A: My preparation is in order. I will share an example. We were doing a mailing, from a previous church and the labels were crooked. I said that the first thing the person is going to see is a messy letter. What they notice on the outside will give an impression about the inside. The presentation needs to be in order and decent. When I was a chaplain in Greensboro and was visiting in the hospital, being decent was respecting the patient and the family. Noting what they needed and meeting them where they are. Decent and in order…it’s visual and also from the heart. One very important message I would like the community to know is that Bethel “A” is a very strong community of faith. The people are loving and caring and have been a great source of support for me since I’ve been here. I’m so glad they chose me to be their pastor.
In other news, this past weekend, Mary C. Jenkins Community Center board was diligently working on programming. Karen Darity shared, “We are making sure that what we offer will be multi-generational and will capture something fun and interesting for all ages.”
If you pass by the site, winter may be here, but with the roof on, construction is progressing nicely. How amazing is that to witness history being built before our eyes. Before you know it, the doors will once again be wide open for you to enter. Speaking about history, there is quite a bit happening behind the scenes to capture our local black history. Thank you to Mr. Wayne Brown for excellent work to create and soon install a few more historic signs around town. An accompaniment has been for us to capture information about each sign by audio and video. We hope that you will enjoy this added dimension to the markers that you see. We plan to unveil a preview of that, hopefully, next month during a virtual Faces Of Freedom show. More to come on that plus another upcoming preview of a Rosenwald film project, thanks to a recent Dogwood Health Trust grant to The African American Storyline Project. Edith Darity shared some thoughts on these endeavors: “We didn’t want to leave here without documenting in some way and capturing stories that are important. History may not seem like a big thing, but it is to me and to others. We want children to be able to read and learn about their community and their loved ones. We don’t want them to feel like nothing ever happened.” I couldn’t have said it any better.
Newsworthy items for submission for Rosenwald Community News are welcomed from community members, churches, clubs and groups. If you have an idea for a story or interview for me to capture, please let me know. Contact Nicola Karesh at email@example.com or call (828) 421-8615.