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The Rev. Darrell Cummings Marks 41 Years Feeding Bodies And Souls

Posted 07/05/21

Photo for The Rev. Darrell Cummings Marks 41 Years Feeding Bodies And Souls

WHEELING — The Rev. Darrell Cummings of the Bethlehem Apostolic Temple Church in Wheeling said he has seen and realized much during his 41 years at the pulpit.

“I learned there are both good people and bad people, and God is a good God even on a bad day.” he said.

“Sometimes I think we’ve come a long way, then sometimes I think we are going backwards — one step forward, then two steps backward.”

Cummings celebrated 41 years as a pastor last week at the church. His 40th year anniversary service was postponed a year due to the COVID pandemic. A Cleveland native, Cummings grew up in the church and in a family of preachers.

His paternal grandfather was Bishop Claude Cummings Sr.; and his maternal grandfather, Rev. Chelcie France.

His father was Bishop Claude Cummings Jr., and his brothers and uncles also have served as pastors.

“It’s a family tradition,” he said. “I always said growing up that one thing I would never be is a pastor. God must have thought that was a challenge or a joke, because now I’ve been doing this 41 years.”

While his children say “the curse is over,” Cummings wonders if that is true.

His daughter Melanie is a minister at her church, and son Claude is a minister “who is thinking about pastoring,” he said.

Another son, Richard, plays the church organ. Daughter Alexis works in a pharmacy, but is still strong in the church, according to Cummings. And youngest daughter Savannah — a rising senior and cheerleader at Wheeling Park High School — already serves as media director at Bethlehem Temple and does social media for the church.

“They are all somewhat working in the church,” he said. “They’ve got their toe in. Let’s see if they make a splash.”

Cummings began his career as a pastor in Ashtabula, Ohio, where he served for 10 years before coming to Wheeling and Bethlehem Temple. He now has been the pastor at the church for 31 years, as well as at the Shiloh Apostolic Faith Assembly in Weirton for the past 15 years.

He said he is proud to serve as a pastor during what is a transition time in America.

“As we come out of the pandemic, hopefully we are learning some lessons,” he said. “There is no guarantee we have tomorrow. Live everyday like your last because it will look like any other day.

“I hope we have learned to appreciate each other because we never know when that may be the last time we talk… I’ve done way too many funerals and I’ve cried with too many people. We have to try to be more appreciative of the time we have because nobody knows the time we have left.”

The nation also is facing many political changes at present, according to Cummings. He said recent months have shined the light on the challenges surrounding race relations in America.

“Today we are still dealing with poverty, race problems, and people going to bed hungry,” Cummings said. “We have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go.

“I thought some of these things were conquered and dealt with decades ago. I never thought we would have a George Floyd situation.”

That is why Cummings said he sometimes feels the country is taking “two steps back.”

“But in my heart, I think we have made three steps forward, then two back. We’re just not making progress as fast as I would like,” he said.

“I’m honored to be a pastor and a leader in the community. I am honored to live during this time. If God gave me the choice of what time to live in, I would have picked this time. I hope I make a difference.”

Source: The Intelligencer. Wheeling News-Register, Joselyn King, 07/05/2021
File Photo The Rev. Darrell Cummings is celebrating 41 years as a pastor, 31 of them at the Bethlehem Apostolic Temple.