"I Came Away with a New Zeal"

Larron Jackson

Ministry and missions coach, Denver cluster, American Baptist Churches USA, Denominational Leadership participant


Larron Jackson

Photo by Lissa Gotwals

For the Rev. Dr. Larron Jackson, taking part in Denominational Leadership crystallized a question he already had been considering: How can we be faithful to our traditions and yet break free to witness for Christ in this time?


“We do wonderful in the sanctuary. We have our traditions, our music, the sermons — everything comfortable. But how do we go out and sing the Lord’s song in a different land? How do we go out and talk to people?” he said.


Jackson is a former NFL offensive guard who detailed his rough-and-tumble path to the pulpit in his autobiography, “The Ghetto, the Gridiron and the Gospel.” He heeded a call to ministry in 1978, at the end of his football career, and earned an M.Div. from the Candler School of Theology and a doctorate from Union Theological Seminary.


An official in the American Baptist Churches USA, Jackson said participating in the four-day-long program in 2013 “has really created an unrest in my spirit, but it’s a good unrest.”


Sessions with faculty members Dave Odom and Marlon Hall were particularly inspiring, he said, driving home the idea that ministry has to change to survive — and to fulfill its mission.


“I think both of them challenged us to see ministry not simply along denominational lines, but to hear Christ’s voice afresh in this age in which we are called to minister,” he said.


“I came away with a new zeal — I’ve been telling everyone about the leadership experience we had together.”


Jackson said there were a number of rich aspects in the Denominational Leadership program: the educational experience, thinking about denominations in new ways and engaging with other leaders from different traditions.


“I got more than I had hoped I would get from it,” he said. “A whole lot more.”