Faith Alive: Rev. Betty Jackson, Pastor, Mt. Commodore AME Church, Midland

How did you end up at Mt. Commodore? My parents, Albert and Naomi Johnson, were members. Before it became a church, it was school. My dad grew up in that area and my mom lived on the street where the church is located which is Ripshin Road. I joined there at the age of 10. The likelihood that I’d be assigned as the pastor in the Methodist church that I grew up in was about 1 in 100,000. My sister passed away last year but before she died she said, “I’ve got a feeling you’re going to be the pastor of that church.” Many times, the church doesn’t want someone in their family or who they grew up with as the spiritual leader but that was not my case. My family and all of the members are ecstatic. The stewards of the church would tell you, “The marriage took place two years ago when she was made pastor and we are still on the honeymoon. She is a great shepherd with a good vision.”

Who’s in your family? My husband is Larry. We have two children, James and Lynnett. Our son, James, is the minister of music of the church. My husband had two children before we married. We have 16 grandchildren between us. I have five sisters and one brother.

How long have you been married? Our 41st anniversary is this year. We married in Phenix City at the courthouse. Ironically, we had a wedding business that my family started in ‘91.

Did you ever think about having another ceremony? I did but my husband said, “Why re-do something that’s not broken?” I saw it as making (our marriage) stronger but he didn’t see it that way. I understood his point, and took it as a huge compliment.

How were you called to the pulpit? When I was young, I joined the church and I was always very serious about God. I took education and teaching seriously in the spiritual and academic arena. One time I had a vision of Jesus coming over my bed -- a vision in white. It never left my mind. I have been happy all my life but not content. Before I answered the call, it was like I was supposed to be doing something else but I didn’t know what. I said in the car one day “Lord, what is this, I yield, I yield.” The same day, I was on my way to Bible study and my pastor called me to the side and said, “I want to prophesy something given to me. You have been called into the ministry.” That was Rev. Audrey Edwards. I said, “Thank you, Jesus.” It was an itch I couldn’t scratch; now I am satisfied.

Then what happened? You go in front of the Board of Examiners for six months on, and six months off. We met for five years, monthly on Friday night and Saturday. I’ve done my last class and I’ll be ordained an elder on (March 17).

You’ll be ordained with a group? Yes, there will be three elders and one deacon.

What do you do at Columbus Tech? I’m the Vice President of Administrative Services and Chief Financial Officer.

What brings you the most satisfaction in the job? The No. 1 thing you have to have is integrity and be very process- oriented. The job also requires people skills, sound judgment and high level of financial analysis. It is audited yearly by the states’ audit department. With the state cuts, HOPE implications, moving from quarters to semester, adding A.S. and A.A. degrees and reaching articulation agreements with the Board of Regents schools, it takes more than knowledge but a spiritual guide to lead and fulfill the needs in times like these. The public education system was founded out of the church. Ben Franklin’s philosophy was you need to have Christian training before you work on academics. I feel like I’m going back to the principles of our founding fathers.

Do you still have the wedding business? I still do some coordination of weddings.

What do you do in your spare time? I really like reading and I’m usually surrounded by three or four books. I used to read Sidney Sheldon-type books but later I got into Stephen Covey and other leadership books, and now it’s only spiritual books. They are better reading materials than any other book except the Bible. I’m currently reading “Revelation Unveiled” by Tim LaHaye.

What are your plans for Mt. Commodore? The first thing I did was to concentrate on the worship experience, then I developed a strategic plan to unfold the vision. The next thing was a curriculum for Bible Study. Now I feel we are ready to do more outreach.