New Branch Baptist ordaining three members as ministers

Published 3:02 pm Friday, April 3, 2015


New Branch Baptist Church was the setting of an unusual but wonderful event Saturday when three of its members were ordained into the ministry.

The Rev. James Ricks of Ivor, the Rev. Mary Bowers of Surry and Evangelist Jennie Boykins of Zuni were ordained by the church’s pastor, the Rev. Frank Aikens. At the 3 p.m. ceremony, the small, more than 100-year-old church was filled to capacity.

“It was a wonderful experience,” said one church member.

“To see three of our own ordained is a gift from God,” said another.

The service, which included a message by Bishop Nathanial Gomillion of Tabernacle of Praise Full Gospel Baptist Church in Zuni and several selections by the New Branch Choir, began with the entrance of the candidates. Ordination of the three came at the end of the service.

The new pastors were led to preach by God, they all say. Bowers, 69, reveals that she was called while she slept, not once but four times.

“I heard a voice calling me one night which said, ‘Tell my people about Me.’

“I sat straight up in bed,” she said. “Finally I went back to sleep, but it happened again the next night, the next, and on the fourth I said, ‘Yes, Lord, I will.’

“I relayed this message to one of my friends who is a preacher and he said, ‘Child, that was your calling.’”

Bowers went on to educate herself for the ministry and was licensed to preach by the Rev. Aikens in 1998.

Boykins, 67, on the other hand, said she felt when she was 22 that something was missing in her life.

“No matter what I did, things did not get any better. Then one day God sent an angel by the named of Elder Frank Johnson Jr., whose favorite subject was Jesus,” she said.

He shared Jesus with Boykins and invited her to a revival. She became saved that night and things have not been the same since. Boykins became licensed to preach in 2000 at Walnut Grove Baptist Church in Zuni. She joined New Branch in 2005 and has participated in pastoral duties there ever since.

Ricks, 68, says God didn’t joke around when he called him.

“I had an out-of-body experience that terrified me,” he recalled. “I could see my spirit, which was hovering over my lifeless body lying in bed. It floated out onto my carport, where there was a bright light.

“Then my spirit floated back into the bedroom and stopped beside my dead body, which was still in bed.

“Let me tell you, the voice I heard was clear as a bell,” Ricks said.

“If you are not going to do what I called you to do, your spirit will not reenter your body,” it said.

Ricks, a member of New Branch since 1978, said this was in 2009, and by 2011 he was licensed to preach.

None of the three has been called to preach at a church of their own so far. But they have had opportunities to deliver sermons at various neighbor churches and welcome the chance to do so.

The Rev. Aikens asks that members, as well as friends, keep the three newly ordained ministers in their prayers as they continue to magnify the Lord by preaching God’s Word.