Church honors Jacksonville's African American leaders

St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church celebrates Black History Month

By Tarik Minor - Anchor, I-TEAM reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - St. Paul's Missionary Baptist Church honored influential African American leaders in Jacksonville on Sunday morning.  During Black History month, the pastor says they just wanted to say thank you.

"Sometimes we forget that there are people who have really made efforts to make a difference, so what better than to honor those people today in our community" said Pastor John Guns.

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown received the Willye Dennis Community Leader Award, which was presented for the first time.

Willye Dennis

Dennis was a formidable political force who influenced a generation of city leaders, as a state legislator, and longtime leader of the NAACP.  She passed away in March of 2012.

"This award as we honor Willye Dennis, I'm reminded that she knew the Lord for herself, so I'm honored to be associated with her," said Brown.

Brown also had a special message for the congregation.

"If you don't know Jesus for yourself you better know him, because if you don't know him, you're in trouble, I'm running God's race" said Brown.

Pastor Guns also honored State Rep. Mia Jones, former City Councilwoman Pat Lockett Felder, and Civil Rights activist and author Rodney Hurst.

Channel 4 crime analyst Ken Jefferson was also honored for decades of service as a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office deputy.

"It's important to appreciate the leaders of community today, and show the next generation, that success is in their hands." said Jefferson. "That's what happened to me. An African American police officer inspired me to be a police officer. I never had an unction or a thought until I saw him, in uniform. I heard him talk and I was inspired by his story to help other people."

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