Greater Middle Baptist Church installs new minister

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A new era began Sunday at the church founded by the late Dr. Benjamin Hooks when members of Greater Middle Baptist Church officially installed Reverend Robert Lewis Mason as their new pastor.

Reverend Mason began his new job with lots of support from the Greater Middle Baptist congregation.

"We love Pastor Mason," said Johnnie Turner.  "He's a dynamic preacher and he speaks the word and the congregation has embraced him wholeheartedly."

Reverend Mason is a 1966 graduate of Memphis' Carver High School and the favorite choice of his predecessor, Dr. Benjamin Hooks.

Turner said Mason embraced his new position with a strong desire to honor Dr. Hook's memory.

"He will be the leader of our flock," Turner said.  "He has already said, 'I cannot fill the shoes of Reverend Dr. Ben Hooks, but I can follow in his footsteps.'"

Reverend Mason and his wife, Doris Mason, came to Memphis from Macedonia Baptist Church in Watts, an inner city area in Los Angeles.

Mason was so beloved there that members from that church flew to Memphis to participate in installation services.

For many it was a tearful goodbye.

"We've shared a lot of jokes," said one Macedonia Baptist Church member.  "There have been sad times, but I'm going to miss him."

Mason was selected out of a nationwide search.  Greater Middle Baptist members said they felt he was the right choice for the future.

"Word will spread we've got a great minister," Turner said.

Copyright 2010 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.