Pastor Beyond the Chair | Faith

Growing up in Fort Wayne, Lewis King felt called to be a pastor. But he was not a natural speaker and was unsure of lecturing from the pulpit.

Then, while studying business at IPFW (now PFW) in the early 90s, he dreamed of becoming a barber.

“The dream told me that if I took this path (of becoming a barber), the Lord would take care of everything else for me,” he said.

So he became a barber and graduated from Concordia Theological Seminary in 2018. He doesn’t often use a pulpit to convey his message. Instead, he’s more of a community pastor, working in the inner city neighborhoods as the Northeast Indiana Neighborhood Engagement Mission Director and Urban Outreach Pastor at Holy Cross Lutheran Church.

The 47-year-old distributes donated food and backpacks for children, organizes prayer walks and meets people where they are in life and offers the hope they need.

King is also the coordinator of the Ten Point Coalition of Fort Wayne United, which works to implement strategies to reduce violence and improve the quality of life in neighborhoods through education, employment and community partnerships. He organizes a foot patrol of people who visit neighborhoods to examine crime rates, education, health and housing with the goal of exploring opportunities for change and future growth. He has been involved since 2018.

That’s a lot of titles for one person, but King only focuses on one.

“Pastor,” he said, “just pastor. “

Rev. Ben Ahlersmeyer, pastor of the Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, is new to the area, but he has seen the impact of King’s outreach ministry. King uses Ahlersmeyer Church as a hub in southeast Fort Wayne.

“He’s just in many ways a connector,” Ahlersmeyer said. “What I’m learning about Fort Wayne is that it’s all about relationships and who knows who, and he knows everyone and that’s why he can get things done. What a blessing to have him in our space and the work he does is so vital. There are so many different things that when he touches them it’s an advantage.

Regarding his relationships and the many organizations he works with, King said, “They are all doing a good job, but the Lord has asked me to be a bridge for all of them when they probably would not work together. . “


King’s ministry brings it all back to the barbershop.

After studying for a year at a barber school in Indianapolis, King met William Files Sr. of the Files Barber Shop in Anthony Boulevard and Pontiac Street, and essentially completed a four-year apprenticeship.

“In the store, I learned it was more than barber,” he said. “It was basically relationships. It was learning the community I lived in in a different capacity because people came from different backgrounds. It was really a great experience. What I learned there besides what I learned at home, you can’t learn from a book.

After four years, Files pushed King to open his own store, which is where his ministry mission really began. It was there that he began leading Saturday afternoon Bible studies, creating more fellowship opportunities, handing out Thanksgiving meals and Christmas toys, and hosting a holiday Bible school in tents.

It was all part of King’s Community Outreach, which still operates out of the Holy Cross Urban Outreach Ministry. All of the outreach activities taught King to communicate and build relationships.

“What is most impressive is when there was nothing for him other than to follow the inspiration of the Lord and to love and serve people, he did it,” the Reverend said. Dr Tom Ahlersmeyer, Senior Pastor at Holy Traverser.

And every year the donations increase.

“Every year he sets a goal for what we’re going to donate, and I’m always like, ‘Are we going to be able to do the same?’ and it always happens effortlessly, ”said Joy, King’s wife. “While I shouldn’t be surprised, it amazes me every time, really. “

Last year, more than 650 food baskets were distributed for Thanksgiving. In early August, more than 320 children received backpacks filled with school supplies.

It has become a much bigger ministry than could be contained in one church. The soft-spoken king doesn’t care about getting the credit; he just wants more people to participate.

“I have a lot of love that I want to show and share and I want them to know Jesus,” King said. “I operate under the command of ‘Love your neighbor’, and if I do that, then I am doing what I am supposed to do. Only God knows. The blessing is to have a point of contact that people can relate to, they can trust, and it’s not about me. It is about what Jesus was doing, which is meeting people where they are. I come with the greatest humility and I honor God for being in this position.

‘Out of the box’

King is also seeing progress in his efforts with the Ten Point Coalition. He believes this is largely because the people involved walk the streets and meet the people who live there.

“It’s the work we do with engagement with residents who own our engagement and relationships,” he said. “It’s a process. Ten Point Coalition is doing a great job there, and we’ve seen a reduction in crime, and that’s partly because of the power and the presence of people walking in the neighborhoods. It’s definitely an engagement with people, and that’s it.

King still retains his barber license although he rarely cuts his hair. He also sometimes goes behind the pulpit to replace pastors of various churches where he delivers sermons based largely on his experiences.

It’s a different platform than the barber chair, but still the same message and style of personal communication.

“People ask me ‘Where is your building?’ but I operate beyond the four walls of a church, ”he said. “I work in the church, but I always see the needs of the people where they are. I don’t need to be restricted in a building as a lot of the work is done outside the building.

“If we really want to model ourselves on Jesus and serve with him and participate in his mission, we have to be able to step out of the box we are in to know that this world is bigger. People are off the beaten track and are waiting for us to let them know what Jesus has already done for them. “

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