Marshall F. Prentice

Marshall F. Prentice
Zion Baptist Church
Baltimore, MD

G&G: Pastor Prentice, we salute you this month as you celebrate your 25th Pastoral Anniversary! I am very excited for this opportunity to talk with you. Most pastors have shared with me that ‘preaching the gospel’ was not necessarily what
they had planned to do with their lives.  Was it the same for you, did you have other plans for your life before your call to ministry?

Pastor Prentice: Thank you. It is the Lord’s work, and it’s marvelous in our eyes! Yes, I too, like other pastors had no plans to preach the gospel.  It was my desire to teach elementary school and eventually move up to administration, where I could have made effective changes for a better school system. I often say like the old television sit com, “Welcome Back Carter”. It was my ultimate desire to return to the school district from which I came, in order to impact and give back to the children and the community.  I was so impressed with my teachers during my era that I wanted to promote a stronger school system.

G&G: Pastor Prentice was the call to ministry a hard call to accept? Was there anyone who significantly influenced your
decision about ministry?

Pastor Prentice:  The call was not a hard decision to make, but a serious call to answer.  Professor Marshall Tweed, one of my
Christian college professors, indicated that he saw a gift in me and that I should use that gift for the Lord. Also, there was Dr. Lehman Bates, my own Pastor, whom I admire and respect.  He saw the gift and encouraged me. And here I stand today, Because of Calvary!

G&G: Pastor Prentice what is your definition of a Pastor and has the role of the Pastor and the church changed since you began in ministry considering the advantages of technology today and the impact of streaming services, satellite ministry and mobile phone messages? What do you believe it takes to be a good pastor in our world today?

Pastor Prentice: A Pastor is a servant leader who serves the Godhead (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). A Pastor is an under shepherd
to the congregation. A Pastor preaches, teaches, prays, and nurtures the flock wherever God places him to serve best. The role
does not change. Learning to use the resources that are available to us can be helpful in serving the congregation. The lives of
people have become more technical, so we must use technologies they are acquainted with. We can become antiquated, and some members have not been taught or trained in that way. We must keep up with the times. To be an effective preacher, teacher, or Pastor today, one must have a heart for the people, and love them as God loves us. God said he would give us Pastors after his own heart (Jeremiah 3:15).

G&G: With the influx of new ministries and hundreds of churches and ministries in the Baltimore community, what sets the Zion
Baptist Church and your ministry apart from other churches and their ministries? How would you best describe the ministry of the Zion Baptist Church?

Pastor Prentice: Balance is the key. It is evident to me, that Zion is no different than any other church. However, Zion is characterized by its love. Many people who visit the ministry often make reference to the abundance of love they receive when they come to Zion.The love of God permeates, saturates and radiates throughout our church.   Zion is a well balanced church for both the young and senior leveled persons. It caters to each group with common ground, and that is Christ Jesus. The Word is what we believe. We Testify of God’s love, and we allow God to Transform our lives into His image.
This is our mission statement: Teach, Testify, Transform. We are also traditional in our hymns and old Negro spirituals; therefore, blending the gospel with praise and awesome worship.

G&G: Pastor Prentice the saying goes, “Behind every successful man is a good woman.” No doubt Lady Elvira Prentice is a very
important part of your 25 years of pastoring. Would you share with us how Lady Elvira has impacted your ministry down through the years?

Pastor Prentice: I would prefer to use the term, beside every successful man.  Lady Elvira is a God- centered woman. She has been a balance of support to the ministry. First, she is a servant of God. Also, in the role of my Nubian Queen she is a wife, mother, companion, and my best friend. As a child of God, she oversees the youth who come to Zion through The Baltimore City Youth Works Program. She has been the Director of our Christian Education Department for many years, serving God, Pastor, and the church. Lady Prentice is an anointed woman of God, with a pleasing personality and a beautiful smile that radiates the love of Christ. Her appreciation and love for me is encouraging during this journey of pastoring. Lady Prentice is God sent.

G&G: Pastor Prentice it has been said in today’s society that it is hard to tell the
difference between believers and nonbelievers. During your years
of pastoring have you found any areas of ministry frustrating or
difficult? What should be the focus of the church in these wavering
and swiftly changing times?

Pastor Prentice: I found challenging moments because of what I call perversion of the gospel, which sends confusing messages to people. The church which stands as a voice of God has been conditioned to tone down the voice of God, so people will feel comfortable living in ways that are contrary to the true gospel of Christ. It is often referred to as being politically correct, culturally correct, and socially correct. We are made to feel guilty for standing up for our moral beliefs. Immoral behavior has infiltrated the church, and has become the norm among many churches. However, His truth is still being preached to those willing to hear and receive it. 2Timothy 4:2 reminds us that we must preach the Word in season and out of season, and John 8:32 declares, The truth will make us free.

G&G: Periodically in the media there is controversy that surrounds pastors and ministers. For many of our youth today trust is a major issue for them when it comes to church. How do we gain the trust of our youth and what are some things that can be done to attract them to church?

Pastor Prentice: There needs to be a consistency of Christian character in teaching and in living. Although the message must be true gospel, the method may need to change. If young people could see and witness the power and demonstration of God in the lives of people today, I believe it would attract them, encourage them, and move them to a point that they too would embrace the fellowship/ worship within the body of Christ. There needs to be consistency and balance of His Word, His Spirit, and application of Him living in His people. He is living proof of a loving God.

G&G: Pastor Prentice lastly, can you share with us where you believe ministry is headed in the coming years, what do you believe is on the heart of the Father?

Pastor Prentice: Optimistically, I hope ministry will impact lives in a way that God intended from the beginning, when he sent forth his disciples. Ministry must continue to testify of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jim Rayburn, stated, “It must first meet people where they are, address their needs, and lift up the gospel of Jesus Christ.” We call this evangelism. I repeat, The message must remain the same, but the methods have to be altered. Ministry must be about kingdom work, not religious rhetoric. The true gospel, when preached, will lead people to the saving grace of Christ through sanctification. We must continue to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God, in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:14).

Interviewed by Jackie Epps

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