WREG looks at how Kenneth Whalum Jr. uses swords to praise from the pulpit

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis has it's share of people who try to make a difference in our community. Actors, movers and shakers have plenty of influence.

Kenneth Whalum Jr. is one of those people.

If you haven't heard him from the pulpit, you've probably seen him on the stage of public opinion offering ideas with passion, enthusiasm and spirit.

We've seen gladiators, and heroes of chivalry fighting for freedom, honor and for conquest.

We've also seen ancient swordsman cutting an image from days gone by, unless you worship in Cordova on Sunday's at The New Olivet Worship Center.

"I believe what it says. I am what it says," Whalum said. "I must do what it says I must do."

The word is compared to a weapon of war in numerous biblical passages. It's quick, powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword.

"I've heard of people who have different collections, but I haven't heard of anyone who had a sword collection. My collection started with my love for the word of God," Whalum said. "I'm weird in a lot of ways. But one of the way in which I think I'm really weird is that I see my ministry as a military assignment."

Which in many ways described the Kenneth Whalum most Memphians are familiar with. He's been a proud activist, an occasional antagonist and a constant challenger of the status quo for 37 years.

"I dare you - the judge, the master, or anybody else - to contradict what I'm saying." Whalum said. "I thought once the school board voted themselves a $10,000 raise. They'd be comfortable enough to go ahead and do something for the common person."

He's not afraid to pull a sword and go swashbuckling.

"Black people used to be people of excellence, people of education and millionaires. But we're not that anymore, and we've got black people in charge of everything in Memphis," Whalum said.

"We have this positive confession that says this is my Bible. It is the sword of the spirit. It is the word of God. I believe what it says I am. I can do what is as I can do. And there's something about the visual of the leader, the pastor, holding a sword and wielding a sword in a way that evinces confidence and boldness and courage."

He has the confidence, boldness, and courage of a street fighter who looks at his collection for inspiration and then uses his words to slice through an argument.

"There are often times when I'm out there by myself, so to speak, when there's not a lot of understanding or support for a particular position. But as you press through you understand the light of truth always brings hop,and there are always people who come on board say you're right."

Whalum is a Memphian who went away to law school only to follow his father's footsteps to the pulpit and a calling to community activism.

"As a pastor of a church I went through a public upheaval. People rejected me. People opposed me, and it was that experience that really solidified my belief that the sword of the Spirit is the way to achieve great exploits for God."

Which means, Whalum will continue to preach from the pulpit and the streets, because it's never easy for a swashbuckler to lay down his sword.