Steadfast, Unmovable—Celebrating 50 Years of Ministry of Presiding Elder Ronald Braxton
In 1967, television cameras aired Black Americans’ frustration with injustice. Riots in Detroit, Michigan, and Newark, New Jersey propelled The Kerner Commission study. Findings from this report indicted white Americans and encouraged legislation to redress inequities. It was during this period that God called Presiding Elder Ronald Eugene Braxton to ministry in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. God wanted a warrior who would advance the church, promote civil rights, love his family, and model integrity. Elder Braxton shared, “There was in me a vision, a dream, a hope of making my life count for something. I offered my life to God, and looking back over the years, one can see a living breathing, “walking miracle”—a life totally dedicated to God, family, church, and race.
On Sunday, April 2, 2017, the Potomac District-Washington Conference and clergy and laity from across the Connection, family, and friends celebrated Presiding Elder’s Braxton’s 50 years in ministry at La Fontaine Bleue in Glen Burnie, Maryland. Commendations poured in from bishops, general officers, pastors, missionaries, lay leaders, governmental officials, and business executives. These letters congratulated Elder Braxton for his dedication to church growth, outreach, and community development. Bishops James L. Davis and Harry L. Seawright and General Officer George Flowers gave tributes. Members from churches where Elder Braxton pastored, sons and daughters in ministry, Potomac and Capital District members, and family also gave accolades. Elder Braxton thanked everyone and shared touching remarks.
Some notable highlights from Elder Braxton’s life include:
- Virgie, his mother who urged him “to make something of his life.” Taking this guidance to heart, he received an Associate of Arts degree from Kittrell College, Bachelor of Arts degree from Wilberforce University, Master of Theology degree from Boston University, Master of Science degree from Loyola University, an earned Doctor of Ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary, and an honorary Doctor of Human Letters from Payne Seminary;
- His five pastoral appointments include Bethel AME Church, Lynn, Massachusetts; Allen AME Church, Baltimore, Maryland; Emanuel AME Church, Portsmouth, Virginia; Waters AME Church, Baltimore, Maryland; and Metropolitan AME Church, Washington, D.C.;
- Appointment as Presiding Elder of the Potomac District—April 11, 2014;
- Marriage 38 years ago to the Rev. Dr. Marie Phillips Braxton [who is celebrating 40 years in ministry] and the birth of their two children, Shannon Elizabeth and Derek Eugene;
- Fervent prayers that resulted in the Rev. Marie undergoing successful kidney transplant surgery.
Over 50 years, things changed and remained the same. Presiding Elder Braxton portrays this paradox stating, “I remember the bombing of the Birmingham church and the killing of four young girls. I was a student in college when the black non-violent preacher (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) was killed on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. How tragic it is that in the postmodern era racism still plaques our country. History records an ugly time in the existence of African American people: slavery, Jim Crowism and segregation. Trying to digest the evil act (massacre at Mother Emanuel), which transpired in one of African Methodism’s most notable churches… It seems as if nothing has changed.” Given this desire for betterment, at the 2020 General Conference, we hope to hear a voice with 50 years of experience say, “Braxton from the Second!”