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Honoring A Servant - Minister Farrakhan pays tribute to a friend and powerful D.C. pastor

By Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor- | Last updated: Nov 6, 2019 - 9:33:54 AM

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The Honorable Min. Louis Farrakhan and his family, including Mother Khadijah Farrakhan, son Mustapha Farrakhan and other guests enjoy retirement celebration for Union Temple Baptist Church’s Rev. Willie Wilson and wife, the Rev. Mary Wilson.
Upper Marlboro, Md.—Imagine, a national celebration and changing of the guard with all the glamour and solemnity and royalty of ancient Timbuktu, in a modern U.S. megachurch and you can picture the joyous retirement celebration after 46 years in the pulpit, for Union Temple Baptist Church’s Rev. Willie Wilson and associate pastor, the Rev. Mary Wilson.

Almost every detail about the gala was royal, African, dripping with “Black Liberation Theology.” Even the entrance of the head table was grand. An African drum call was performed as the head table guests entered the ballroom. The Wilsons were wheeled to the stage seated on carved wooden thrones on a platform wheeled by a procession of men in African-themed formal wear, carrying golden staffs.

At the dais, they joined their daughter, the Rev. Anika Wilson-Brown, who will assume the leadership of the 50-plus-year-old congregation as the head pastor at Union Temple. Flags of African nations adorned the stage. Guests wore dazzling formal African and American designer fashions.

It was a picture of “local Washington”—where the Black population resides—as opposed to “official Washington”—the government and monuments—at its best. It was the best of a Black “American” church in Africa, or better, an African church experience in the United States.

Rev. Willie Wilson and wife Mary Wilson were wheeled to the stage seated on carved wooden thrones, and escorted by a procession of men in African-themed formal wear carrying golden staffs. Photo: Hassan Muhammad

Bishops, pastors, imams, the mayor of the District of Columbia, a former D.C. mayor, a neighboring mayor, and current D.C. Council members, local and national radio TV personalities, a White former television and newspaper reporter, and even legendary gospel musicians were all in attendance. “I feel so honored to be in this room with this family and this wonderful audience,” the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam said.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan
“For a lifetime, you have been shepherding the people of Washington, D.C.,” Mayor Muriel Bowser, who had her own infant daughter with her at the gala. “You have lived the belief that power concedes nothing without a demand.”

The Rev. Wilson, who first invited Minister Farrakhan to speak at his church more than 42 years ago, saw the membership of the church drop by one half after the Muslim leader’s appearance. “My presence was such an annoyance,” Minister Farrakhan said of that first appearance, and even the dozens of times he has spoken at Union Temple since then. “People did not want to be present with a man who teaches the truth, probably like no other.”

That man, the Muslim leader continued—like the Rev. Wilson—is married to a really special woman. “A man who is married to a queen who was his childhood sweetheart.

Woman applauds during tribute to the Rev. Willie Wilson.

(L) The evening tribute to the pastor who served the poorest and Blackest part of the District of Columbia drew people who have appreciated his nearly five decades of work. (R) African-inspired attire was everywhere during an evening devoted to the Rev. Willie Wilson and his wife.

“We’ve known each other for over 70 years, and we’ve been married for 64 years. I have about 60 grandchildren and almost that many great-grandchildren, and a few great, great grandchildren. And my prayer always is not for them to be ministers. I just want them to be soldiers in the army of God and his Christ,” the Minister said.

That righteous army is in harmony, Minister Farrakhan continued. “If Jesus were here, and Moses walked in and Abraham showed up and the rest of the prophets, they would be as close to each other as we are in this room tonight. The division of people of God is not from God nor from his prophets. It is from Satan who hates the unity of the righteous.”

The Nation of Islam National Representative’s critics don’t know me at all, the Minister continued. “So I can’t preach tonight. No, no, no, no. I want to bear witness tonight to my brother. We became friends 42 or so years ago. The reverend invited me to his growing church and I said, that’s unusual because people run from me because they see a ‘Mooslum.’ ‘He has no place in a Christian House of worship.’

“I beg your pardon. Every real Muslim is a Christian and every real Christian is a Muslim. To be a Christian means to be crystallized into the oneness of God following the noble example of Jesus, the Christ. I want to be a Christian. To be a Muslim means the same thing, to submit your will to do the will of God.

“It’s a good name to be a Christian. It’s a good name. But now you’re going to tell somebody they have no place in a house (of God). You don’t know me, and you make the same mistake as the enemies of Jesus. They didn’t know him either.

“I met my brother in a time when the Nation was in trouble, not just America, but the Nation of Islam from Elijah Muhammad had almost been totally decimated by the counter intelligence program of the United States government under J. Edgar Hoover and (by) people (in the Nation) who wanted to evolve. And so we became a part of the Muslim world.

(L-R) Honorable Samual Tekyi, Mistress of Ceremonies Meshelle The Indie-Mom of Comedy, D.C. Mayor Murial Bowser, Trustee Kathy McDaniel

(L-R) Lebohand “Lebo M” Morake, Rev. Darryl Winston, Imam S. Adeyola, Rev. Mary L. Wilson

“You cannot tell me you know Christ because you have a cross around your neck. But if you know Christ, you are on a cross like my brother has been, not loved by everybody. They will hate you because of his name. I’m walking in his footsteps. And if you walked in his footsteps, you (would) feel the fire of Satan, just like everyone felt when Jesus walked this earth.

“How easy it is today to say ‘I love Jesus.’ But 2,000 years ago when he walked among us, he was hated by all without a cause. You read that in the scriptures, didn’t you? So I walk after him. Don’t be mad at me. I catch hell on a daily basis. Not a hell that I create, but a hell that is created for me (because of) the power of my faith.”

The Rev. Wilson “led me to his rostrum and I had a Bible in one hand and a Holy Qur’an in the other, because I can’t be an enemy of the scriptures and be a friend of God. I can’t say that I’m a Muslim and (then) dog another man’s religion whose religion is based on a scripture revealed by God through one of his prophets. You don’t know me and you’re terrified of my presence.

“Somebody said: ‘Oh, Farrakhan, he’s terrible. He’s against the LGBTQ community.’ Come on. And the Jesus that I know did not refuse me because I am a sinner. He said: come unto me all that are heavy laden, do this in his name.”

Gospel artist Richard Smallwood performs.

Minister Farrakhan recalled his great victory that was aided by his friend. It was the Million Man March, on Oct. 16, 1995, the largest Black demonstration, and the largest assemblage of Black men in U.S. history. The Rev. Wilson “can boast that he along with his Muslim brother was responsible for 2 million Black men showing up in Washington. How in the world could I be so bad but I could call two million Black men (together). All night long they filled up the mall where our fathers used to be sold into slavery.

“I follow Christ,” Minister Farrakhan said. In his remarks later, the Rev. Wilson concurred, saying that he “is not a Christian,” but someone who “follows Jesus Christ.”

“People have hated me all along,” the Minister said. “Find something that I’ve said against my detractors. Find it. Bring it up. You can’t because I prayed for those who misused me.

“If I made a mistake and hurt your feelings, you won’t give me a chance to atone for any mistake that I have made so that the love of the brotherhood can become stronger. But you walk with your former slave master and forgive all that your slave master and his children have done, and are still doing. But your brother, you cannot forgive (someone) who’s done you no wrong at all.

“I’m here tonight to honor my brother, his wife, their beautiful family, and to see to his dear daughter, Reverend Dr. Anika Wilson-Brown. I thank God for you and for the work that you will do and the work that you have done.

“You know I’m old,” Minister Farrakhan continued. “I’m up there now, but I can’t retire. See, when God puts you on a job, you got to stay on that post until death overtakes you. That’s your retirement plan.”

The Rev. Wilson agreed. “I know you got dressed up in all of your finery and came to be a part of a retirement, but I must tell you I am not retiring,” he said. “First of all, I’m too young, only 75 years old and that’s too young to retire.

“There’s something about that word retire. When you retire, you decline. And when you decline, you’re not long for this world. And so in the first place, I’m not retiring because I’m too young. Second of all, I’m not retiring because in my DNA, in my genetic (makeup) resides the spirit of all of my parents (and great grandparents) who gave their lives fighting for the liberation of our people.”

A banquet hall was packed for an evening celebration.

African drummers play during salute to Rev. Willie Wilson.