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That was then, this is now: St. Luke MB Church Installs New Pastor By Jai Sturdivant

Rev. Benjamin R. Nicks Jr.

I have been attending my church home now, going on twenty-some years, and this is the first time in my post-college adult life, that my Christian wellbeing is not being overseen by a family member. On April 28th, St. Luke MB Church installed Rev. Benjamin R. Nicks Jr. as its 4th Pastor. This was a bittersweet moment for me. Having served under all three former pastors, and being related to the last two, you can see how passing the reigns to this young man holds such sweetness and sorrow.

Pastor Nicks has a diverse background, more than what one would expect for a minister. He served eight years in the Navy, many years as a restaurant general manager, as well as working with Operation Push and Rev. Jesse Jackson. He has also worked with the NAACP, the FBI, and the Police Department in setting up youth programs. Having such a diverse background has strengthened his skills in community programs, youth ministry and programs, management, accounting and bookkeeping processes, lean concepts, life-altering skills, and mentorship.

I spoke with Rev Nicks, and asked him some questions about his new position, and what changes he had in store for the church, the community, and Peoria as a whole. This question takes on more meaning since he makes his home in Bloomington Illinois.

I asked him had he any set direction, he wanted to take the church in, and he responded by saying yes, with two things. One, making sure that we are open to receiving everyone, regardless of color or status, and two, to make sure we provide what they need. He went on to say that he wants this church to be the place where the needs of the people will be met; ministering to the ‘triune’ man. Rev. Nicks wanted everyone to know they are welcome at St. Luke.

Asked if he foresaw any struggles ahead, he answered without hesitation, yes. “The devil does not want you to succeed, and he will always provide roadblocks.” He went on to say, “That’s why as Christians, we are truly our brother’s keepers; watching out for and working with one another. My style of ministering is to the whole man; the spiritual, the physical and the mental.”

Pastor Nick proposes to accomplish these goals through spiritual growth. “If you accomplish this, you’ll see how easy it will be to get God’s work done. Move from your agenda and get on to God’s,” he said.

My last question to Pastor Nicks regarded legacy. Rev. TC Sturdivant left a legacy of community service as well as song praise and preaching. Rev. William O. Sturdivant left one of military and entrepreneurship as his legacy. What do you want your legacy to be, I asked? “Like TC’s, I want to build upon the community service and emphasize personal responsibility to oneself and those around them. I want the community to come out and hear my message of empowerment and preparation for each individual. Give us a chance to share Christ’s message that changes lives. Maybe, the very thing that you are looking for can be found with us. We want the people to give us a look see, and an opportunity to provide our services to everyone. We are providing counseling for singles, married couples, youth, life coaching, and how to successfully do the bookwork to run your small businesses.  I believe if given the chance, we can transform into Gods people.”

Sitting there talking to Rev. Nicks, so many reflections on his predecessors and their special day came to mind. Three generations preparing to do service for the Lord; Pastor TC, aka “Daddy”, his installation service, his rally cry to everyone, friends and family “all roads led to St. Luke,” Pastor William aka “Uncle Pastor”, his installation service, where all you heard was “we can’t stop, have more work that needs to be done.” Well, that was then, this is now. DNA does not connect us, but St. Luke does, and he is family nonetheless. So as this dynamic young man prepares to step up to that sacred spot and assume the reigns as Pastor, we will be standing with him, three generations again, ready to be of service, to God, the church, Pastor Benjamin, and the community.