MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Hundreds of people filled First Baptist Church – Broad on Saturday to say goodbye to the Rev. Ralph White.
White was the pastor of Bloomfield Missionary Baptist Church since 1984. He died on May 25 at 71 years old.
White was well known in the community, not only as a man of God, but also as a community activist who fought to remove guns from Memphis streets and created economic opportunities for young people of the city.
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Saturday’s service was nothing less than a spirit-filled home-going, full of celebration of White’s life.
“We worship God and celebrate the life of Ralph White,” Dr. Keith Norman, pastor of First Baptist Church – Broad, said during the service. “Come on, let’s put that together. This is a worship celebration.”
A long list of family, friends and fellow local religious leaders came to share their remembrances of a man who touched so many lives.
“He would always ask you, ‘What can I do?’ or ‘What do you need?'” Pastor L.T. Blair of Jerusalem Baptist Church said. “Even back then, he took on the quality of Jesus. ‘I come not to be served, but to serve.'”
White was described as many as gracious, humble and compassionate and was remembered for his tenacity.
“He was bold,” Diane Young, co-pastor of Hope and Healing Center, said. “He was not afraid to speak truth to power. He was committed. He was all in. He was down to earth. He never met a stranger. He was effective. Pastor White didn’t just spin his wheels; he delivered.”
White was described as a powerful force of change for civil, social and racial issues, but he never forgot his roots in the Riverside neighborhood of South Memphis. His son encouraged those in attendance to continue his father’s memory.
“I’m so happy because he’s not dead to me,” Ralph White II, Rev. White’s son, said. “Every time I want to think about him, I see him in my vision or remember memories of him throughout my life. He’s always alive in me, and I want you guys to keep him alive as well.”
Rev. White also considered himself to be a progressive minister. He developed a dance ministry at Bloomfield Missionary Baptist. His encouragement and inspiration shined though in Saturday’s service.