Warnock aims to move together to higher ground



The Rev. Joyce Hall has said she can’t remember a time growing up when her brother, Raphael Gamaliel Warnock, didn’t have a “keen sense of purpose for his life.”

Speaking in a video on the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church website, Hall recounted all the ways Warnock has been aware of that purpose: he was named for an archangel and a rabbi. 

His parents, Verlene and Jonathan Warnock, were both Pentecostal ministers in Savannah, Georgia. Elders of their church who came to pray over him in his cradle prophesied that he would be special. 

At age 4, during a Youth Sunday service, he sang “He Touched Me” to the the congregation. 

At age 11, he gave his first sermon, “It’s Time to Be About My Father’s Business.”

Today Warnock serves at the senior pastor of the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and will be the chaplain for Week Two at Chautauqua. His sermon title for the 10:45 a.m. Sunday service will be “Our Father in Heaven,” based on Luke 11:12 and Matthew 6:9.

In the same online video, Warnock says that he does not want to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors, the Rev. John A. Parker, the Rev. Adam Daniel Williams, the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. or
Martin Luther King Jr.

“I would rather stand on their shoulders, rather than try to walk in their shoes,” he said. “For if I stand on their shoulders, I can see the horizon, and we can together move on to higher ground.”

Warnock is considered one of the premier public theologians and preachers working today. He was licensed and ordained at the historic Sixth Avenue Baptist Church of Birmingham, Alabama, and then served as assistant pastor of the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church of New York City. 

Before coming to Ebenezer, Warnock served as senior pastor of Baltimore’s Douglas Memorial Community Church. He is a graduate of Harvard’s Summer Leadership Institute, and has worked with the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS. 

He is the author of Educating Teens for Positive Peer Intervention, which serves as Georgia’s official curriculum guide for teen peer programs aimed at reducing the state’s teenage pregnancy rate.

His most recent book is The Divided Mind of the Black Church: Theology, Piety, & Public Witness

Warnock is a graduate of Morehouse College and holds Master of Divinity, Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. This will be his fourth visit to Chautauqua.