A simple email discussion about the song “Winter Wonderland” reminded me of Preacher Brown, a minister for whom I used to work in the days when I was doing any and all kinds of freelancing. Preacher Brown would send me audiotapes of his sermons and I’d transcribe and edit them, then send them back. He often spoke of one day putting them in a collection or something; I never knew what he did with them.
But I learned from the man. He was in his sixties when I edited for him, and the strong pastor of a primarily African-American church in Baltimore. I loved listening to his tapes, because he didn’t shy away from preaching the gospel or the truth.
One of the most important things I ever learned from Preacher Brown was the practical wisdom of “tithe ten, save ten.” Percent, that is. Out of every paycheck, ten percent goes immediately to God, another ten percent goes into a savings account. The rest you live on. I’ve been practicing that principle ever since I heard him explain it.
Preacher Brown was also one of the first to make the parable of the four soils clear to me. It’s only that last group, I finally realized, who are true believers.
I drifted away from Preacher Brown and didn’t hear from him again, though I often thought of him fondly. And so, on Christmas morning, as some friends and I discussed the political correctness of doing away with the “Parson Brown” line in “Winter Wonderland,” I said I’d change the lyric to “Preacher Brown,” who happened to be in Baltimore.
And then I googled him, just to see how he was doing. And I found this:
July 1, 2005: For over 50 years, the man affectionately known around the world as “Preacher” Brown has done nothing less than deliver the word of God to his people. His motto, “Keep looking up,” is how he lived each day. Brown, the voice of the WRBS-FM 95.1, died on June 9 of cancer. He was 81. “[Brown ] never sought to glorify himself. It was about compelling souls to the Lord Jesus Christ,” Doris Collins said during a homegoing service for Brown on June 17 at Manna Bible Baptist Church, the West Baltimore house of worship Brown founded 37 years ago.
It’s sad to realize that someone you love has left this temporary world . . . and you didn’t even realize it. But I know he’s in heaven, probably grinning in that great cloud of witnesses as he sees this missive go out into cyberspace.
And I will look him up when I get there . . . and let him know how much he influenced my life, even though we never once met in person.
Preacher Joseph Brown. A godly man.
Joseph Merrill Brown, the only child of the late Joseph and Carrie Brown, was born November 15, 1923, in North Philadelphia.
“Preacher Brown” was educated in the Philadelphia Public School System.
In 1942, he met and married his wife of 63 years, Kathryn Moore, Preacher Brown entered the United States Army in 1942, and served until 1944, and while serving in the Philippines, during the battle of Saipan in World War II, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and had been serving until being called home, early Thursday morning, June 9, 2005. After leaving the Army he was employed by the United States Postal Service. Preacher Brown later left the postal service to begin his full service of evangelism. He received his initial education from the Manna Bible Institute. He received his Doctorate from the Bible College of California. He founded the Manna Bible Baptist Church in 1968. He later founded the Pimlico Bible Institute. He was a member of the National Religious Broadcasters Association. He was a former Protestant Chaplain for the Baltimore City Jail. He has been a speaker at the White House on three occasions. He was a member of the Advisory Board for Lynchburg Bible College. For over 50 years Dr. Brown was firmly dedicated to the Evangelism of the lost and teachings of God’s Word. Preacher Brown was officially licensed to preach in 1954, by the membership of Penn Memorial Baptist Church, Rev. Frank B. Mitchell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His life long ministry was the spread of the gospel, by radio and TV with the Manna Bible Baptist Church and through the Grade Memorial Hour which he founded. Countless souls have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior through his ministries.
Preacher Brown leaves to cherish his memory: his wife, Kathryn Brown; three children, Joseph Jr., Stephen and Sharon Simms; two daughters-in-law, Tina and Marlene; two sisters-in-law, Helen Tate and Blanche Moore; one son-in-law, Sterling Simms; six grandchildren, Stephen, Jr., Karyn, Sean, Michael, Shelton and Barry; twelve grandchildren; cousins; and a host of other family and dear friends.