Juneteenth was a busy day for Reverend James Meeks with events throughout the city.
Monday was even busier as the longtime senior pastor of Salem Baptist Church was greeted with gratitude after announcing he was stepping down.
"It's time for a young generation to come forward with new challenges facing us," said Meeks.
Meeks told the congregation the news while introducing his successor, Charlie Dates, on Sunday.
"There is a young man in our midst who is an exceptional preacher. He has his doctorate degree. He came out of our church and it's time for young people to step up and be given a chance," Meeks said.
Meeks ran and won as state senator in 2002 and served until 2013. And in 2005, he oversaw the 10,000-seat community and worship center built in the historic Pullman district called "The House of Hope."
"We voted that area dry and after we voted that area dry, Walmart came in. The church actually changed the face of that community," he said.
Just as he was called to the ministry, Meeks said he was called to pass the baton.
"All we are is servants of the people and I'm glad I had the chance to serve," he said. "I hope to keep serving people."
Meeks and First Lady Jamell Meeks plan to enjoy some special family events coming up. His last official day as senior pastor will be Jan. 15, the Sunday before Dr. King's holiday.
Salem Baptist Church Rev. James Meeks announces retirement, names Charlie Dates as successor
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