Baptist Pastor Brings Shared Purpose to Role
on St. Vincent de Paul’s Board of Directors
What’s an African-American, Baptist preacher doing on the board of directors of a lay, Catholic charitable organization? The Rev. Bernard Crayton used to ask himself that very question, he says with a chuckle.
Besides being neighbors with St. Vincent de Paul here in the Shelby Park community, the pastor of Little Flock Missionary Baptist Church says we serve a similar purpose, which is to help people. He knows as much because he and his parishioners have been long-time volunteers at SVDP, having served meals for years at the Open Hand Kitchen.
Over time, Rev. Crayton has gotten to know Ed Wnorowski, SVDP’s executive director and CEO. “Ed’s a great guy,” Crayton says. “Our sons both went to Murray State, and we discovered we had things in common.”
In an effort to bring greater racial diversity and more varied career backgrounds to SVDP’s board of directors, Wnorowski approached Rev. Crayton about joining… SVDP’s Board of Directors, which has, historically speaking, included predominantly members who have been white men, most of whom were Catholics.
“First of all, I was honored,” Crayton says. “But I was a little surprised.” He ultimately accepted, though, because he sees the outreach of both Little Flock and SVDP as closely intertwined. Serving much of the same clientele – the poor in our community – the two organizations are also in close proximity, located within a block of each other.
The congregation was started150 years ago by freed slaves, who literally picked up the original wood-frame building and relocated it from Old Louisville to its present site. A book documenting Little Flock’s history in planned to coincide with a big anniversary celebration that’s planned for the third weekend in November.
Little Flock warmly welcomes SVDP clients at Sunday morning services. In fact, two of the people Rev. Crayton met in our Open Hand Kitchen not only became regular worshippers, he said, but ended up getting married at Little Flock!
“It’s really been an eye-opening experience to be on the board,” Rev. Crayton said, “especially when I see the wonderful things you’re doing there. You folks feed a lot of people, and I think it’s serving a great need.”
Until joining the SVDP board, however, the pastor was unfamiliar with other areas of SVDP’s outreach, including the Family Success Center, recovery services and supportive housing programs. He is learning everything he can about SVDP to help spread the word about our good work, he said.
In addition to our board, Rev. Crayton has also served on the boards of the Louisville Urban League and of Norton Hospital, where he underwent successful treatment for prostate cancer. He has been cancer-free for seven years, he says.
ABOUT REV. CRAYTON
Hometown: Cleveland, OH
Career: 20 years in banking (and pastor of a small church); Moved to Louisville: 1999 Family: Father was a pastor
Wife: Marcella, school counselor at Eisenhower Elementary
Daughter: Ashley, 32, Cornell University and Tennessee State University graduate who now works in supply chain management in Columbus, OH
Son: Justin, 26, Trinity High School and Murray State University graduate who works for R.J. Reynolds in Fort Worth, TX
*This article is in the February print issue of the Good Samaritan, St. Vincent de Paul Louisville’s free monthly newsletter. Subscribe here.