Popular Memphis Pastor Prepares To Leave Town For New Post

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(Memphis) A community leader's breakfast honored Reverend Doctor Frank Thomas Tuesday.

For some friends and civic leaders, this was one of their last opportunities to break bread with the longtime pastor of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church before he steps down.

"I had a lot of wonderful relationships and just a tremendous time. Memphis is gifted with great people and I had a privilege to work with so many of them. It is sad. I have a grieving side," Thomas said.            

After 13 years as senior pastor at Mississippi Boulevard, Thomas is leaving Memphis this year to lead a new institute for African-American studies at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana.

"I had a chance to do something I really wanted to do, which is to teach full-time, to teach preaching, which I absolutely love. It's kind of like passion meets opportunity," Thomas said.  

But his work has not gone unnoticed in Memphis, especially by members of his congregation such as Eldredge Williams.

"His dedication, his sincerity, and his determination to help people and try to get the Gospel to some of us who really need it," Williams said.       

Under the leadership of Dr. Thomas, Mississippi Boulevard has also extended its outreach in the community.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell worked with Thomas on several projects including Shelby Care, a faith-based initiative, which helps during natural disasters such as the May 2011 Flood in Memphis.

"When we talk about blending the role of the church, the faith-based community into the fabric of our community, Frank Thomas has been a pilgrim in that area, which sets a wonderful example for all of us," Luttrell said.                 

As for Frank Thomas, he says the example he hopes to leave behind is for people to try to  'do the right thing' with others in all facets of their lives, "I teach at every platform to do the right thing in all relationships. When you do that you have a better community, a better world and ultimately we have better relationships with one another."

Thomas has five earned doctorates and his written several books about religion. No word yet on who will replace him as senior pastor at the church.