Written by Tanya Terry
In 2022, Dr. Lewis Randolph, pastor emeritus, of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church (ABC), past president of the Concerned Pastors for Social Action and past moderator of the Great Lakes Baptist District Association, died peacefully at home. He was 76 years old.
According to his son, Dr. Rodale Randolph, DHA, his father’s death was unexpected.
“There’s an empty void that will never be filled,” Dr. Rodale Randolph said.
Dr. Rodale Randolph pointed out that since his dad died Sept. 10, things have changed.
This year, on Nov. 1, the family celebrated his dad’s birthday without his father being there. They celebrated their last Thanksgiving without him and will celebrate Christmas without him.
Since then, Dr. Rodale Randolph has been finding reassurance in knowing where his dad is. He said his dad planted enough in everyone that knows him to know where he is and who he is with.
“I would imagine by now, he has made it to the throne and the presence of God, and he’s in awe of His majesty,” Dr. Rodale Randolph said. “I know by now he’s probably made it to see my mom, my grandparents, my aunts, uncles, cousins and past friends.
Dr. Rodale Randolph talked to the Courier about how important friendships were to his father, particularly those with men he grew up with in ministry.
“My father believed in giving. He was a friend to many people, in church and out of church. My dad sacrificed so much around the church! He was go Sundays without being paid. He always wanted the church to be first. Then, he’d become second.”
Dr. Rodale Randolph remembers when his father voluntarily took a pay cut because the church was going through “hard times.”
“In my dad’s faithfulness, he was able to see the church burn their mortgage. He did that three times!”
Dr. Rodale Randolph described how the church and the other property the church had at 1401 Stewart became debt free.
“We bought the new building at 1401 Stewart in the early 2000s because the Lord laid on my dad’s heart to go ahead and build a new church for the church. But, when the economy took a turn, we had to put it on the back burner. That was around ‘07 and ’08: the financial crisis when Bush was leaving office and Obama was coming in. At the time, people thought the building was a burden to the church. But, in an ironic way, the building became a blessing to the church. And we were able to burn our mortgage.”
While he was living, Dr. Lewis Randolph made a point to bring other preachers to the church during revivals to expose the congregants to them.
He also built relationships with former governors, such as Jim Blanchard and Jennifer Granholm. He had relationships with Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King III and others.
Dr. Rodale Randolph said his father had a special relationship with many area pastors, including, Rev. Coles, Pastor A.C. Lee and Rev. Zachary Lee Smith.
“They supported each other regardless of what denomination they were,” said Dr. Rodale Randolph.
Granville Smith Jr. pastored Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church. Clarence Knox pastored Ebenezer Ministries. AJ Pointer pastored at Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle. J.C. Curry was a pastor at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, and Bishop Odis A. Floyd was a pastor at New Jerusalem Full Gospel Baptist. The pastor of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church was Rev. Herbert B. (HB) Dixson. The pastor of Foss Avenue Baptist Church was Reverend Dr. Avery Aldridge. Bishop Walter E. Bogan Sr. pastored Harris Memorial Church of God in Christ. Rev. Leroy Shelton pastored Christ Fellowship Baptist Church, and W. G. Terry was pastor at New Zion Baptist Church. Dr. Lewis Randolph had strong friendships with all of them.
Dr. Lewis Randolph had a scholarship program for college-bound students. Through it, the students were provided laptops or financial contributions for their schooling from the church.
The church had a food giveaway every second Tuesday of the month, as well as a water giveaway.
“My dad had given away a house and cars and had a church giveaway one year. He reflected he wanted to be inside of the church, but he also wanted to be outside of the church within the community, building relationships, trying to break down barriers to help anyone he could.”
Dr. Rodale Randolph was pleased to see an outpouring of love returned during his father’s homegoing service. The service was held at the House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church. According to Dr. Rodale Randolph, support poured in from around the country.
For Dr. Rodale Randolph, among his dad’s many slogans, one sticks out.
“He would say to me or my brother, ‘regardless of how people treat you, still treat people nice.’ My dad lived what he preached.”
Dr. Lewis Randolph worked as a tool-and-die tradesman. He froze his time at the plant to pastor full-time.
“His life was Antioch. He breathed Antioch, and he believed Antioch was the best church to be a pastor at.”
According to Dr. Rodale Randolph, his father worked along with his mother, a schoolteacher, as a team. His church, as well as his family, were of immense importance to Dr. Lewis Randolph.
“I am taking it day by day,” said Marcus Adolphus Randolph, Dr. Lewis Randolph’s other son.
“I’m staying busy with work and business ventures and staying close to my inner circle,” Marcus Adolphus Randolph added. “Things have been difficult, but it was a blessing to have him for as long as we did.”
Dr. Rodale Randolph hopes to take some of his dad’s sermons and put them in book form for others to be able to access. He also wants to take some of his preachings and get a radio spot on WFLT 1420 AM.
“More than likely, I will create a website under the Lewis Randolph Ministries and have past videos and preaching and different newspaper articles that were written on my dad.”
Recently, discussion among Flint City Council has taken place regarding changing the name of Stewart Avenue, or part of it, to rename it using Dr. Lewis Randolph’s name.
Family, friends and the community continue to be inspired by the life of Dr. Lewis Randolph.
Marcus Adolphus Randolph said, “Honoring his legacy will be achieved via giving back to my community, being a positive example for others and keeping God first in all things.”