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Arkansas AM&N graduate retires as senior minister at historic Washington church


The Rev. H. Beecher Hicks Jr., senior minister of the historic Metropolitan Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and Largo, Md., announced his retirement during a congregational meeting on Jan. 31.

Hicks is a 1964 Honors graduate of Arkansas AM&N College, now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

Hicks’ retirement will mark the end of nearly four decades of preaching, teaching and mentoring at Metropolitan Baptist Church. Since his election in June 1977, Hicks has served as the fifth senior minister in the congregation’s 150-year history.

Born in Baton Rouge, La., Hicks pastored in Mumford, N.Y.; Pittsburgh; and Houston before being called to pastor Metropolitan. He was ordained by his father,H. Beecher Hicks, Sr., in 1961 and recently celebrated 52 years of preaching.

A significant moment in Hicks’ ministry came when he was tapped by the Baptist World Alliance to be the keynote preacher for its meeting in Melbourne, Australia, in 2000, to be followed by his selection as conference preacher for the prestigious Hampton Ministers’ Conference in 2009.

He was designated by Ebony Magazine in 1993 as one of America’s “Fifteen Greatest African American Preachers.” In addition, in July 2011, Hicks was honored as a “Living Legend” at the E.K. Bailey Expository Preaching Conference in Dallas.

Hicks has established several innovative initiatives that further cultivate the church and create partnerships within the community. Among these efforts are: the Metropolitan Day School, an Afro-centric Christian learning experience for students pre-K through 5; The Garment’s Hem Inc., a ministry dedicated to Christ-centered psychological and emotional health therapy; and the Metropolitan Community Development Corporation that engages in community, economic and employment initiatives in Washington, D.C., and Maryland.

“Dr. Hicks’ approach to ministry and church leadership has always been on the cutting edge,” said Deacon B. J. Brooks, chair of the Metropolitan Baptist Church Board of Deacons.

“He was one of the nation’s first ministers to support the elevation of women in the pulpit, and in church leadership positions,” Brooks said.

“I did not look at gender,” Hicks said. “I looked at the calling of God on their lives and how they demonstrated their commitment to God and to the service of the church. Then, I moved in accordance with the Spirit.”

Cheryl Price-Clemetson was the first female ordained in a Baptist Church by Hicks in 1985.

Metropolitan, under Hicks’ leadership, is among the first churches in the Washington to create a specialized ministry for deaf people as well as for people living with HIV and AIDS.

Hicks gained community-wide recognition when he moved the church’s Easter Sunday worship in 1999 to the foot of the Washington Monument. During a summer 1999 revival, the congregation fed more than 5,000 hungry and homeless pope.

Metropolitan’s international outreach was marked by the development of the Metropolitan Elementary School in Kinshasa, Zaire. Hicks was also on hand for Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990.

A recipient of the Rockefeller Protestant Fellowship, Hicks graduated from Colgate Rochester Divinity School in May 1967. He was selected as one of the original Martin Luther King Fellows at the Colgate Rochester Divinity School in 1972, and his studies included time at the University of Nigeria, the University of Ghana and the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana.

He earned a doctor of ministry in theology degree in 1975 at Colgate Rochester Divinity School. His dissertation, Images of the Black Preacher: The Man Nobody Knows was published by Judson Press in 1977.

In 1994, Hicks received the coveted Merrill Fellowship for postgraduate study at Harvard University Divinity School. In 1999, he earned a master of business administration degree from the George Washington University. In 2008, Morehouse College honored Hicks with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

The author of seven books, Hicks is a prolific writer and is widely published in religious periodicals. The three most popular of his writings include: On Jordan’s Stormy Banks (2004), My Soul’s Been Anchored (1998) and Preaching Through A Storm (1987, 12th printing and translated into Indonesian in 2006), which is currently used as a textbook in seminaries around the world.

Within the theological community, Hicks has served as adjunct professor at United Theological Seminary, Chicago Theological Seminary, Colgate Rochester Divinity School and Howard University School of Divinity.

He recently was appointed as Distinguished Professor of Homiletics at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington.

“It is my intention to remain vitally involved in the theological and church community here in the nation’s capital,” Hicks said.

Congregants expressed sadness that their “Pastor” will be retiring, but they celebrated his leadership and faithfulness to the ministry of Metropolitan Baptist Church and the friendships they continue to enjoy.

“This is a love relationship between pastor and people that has grown stronger with each year,” Hicks said. “Metropolitan is my heart.”

Hicks is the president of H. Beecher Hicks Ministries Inc., a management consulting firm specializing in church leadership development and team building.

“I look forward to a season of rest, writing, mentoring and especially teaching,” Hicks said.