One of the most celebrated preacher/pastors of my generation was Dr. E.K. Bailey, the late pastor of the Concord Baptist Church, here in Dallas.
I met E.K. when I was a student at Bishop College. It was during the annual L.K. Williams Ministers' Institute and while I knew who he was, I had no idea he knew who I was. He came behind me as I made my way down the steps of the Carr P. Collins Chapel after worship and he placed his hand on my shoulder, introduced himself and said, 'When I was a student here your father was a friend to me, and I want to be a friend to you.'
He was as good as his word. In fact I tell his widow, Dr. Sheila Bailey, who is a cherished friend of our family, the only reason E.K. never did more for me, is because I never asked him.
When I was a college freshman, for my 19th birthday, I treated myself to the opportunity to go hear Dr. Manuel Scott preach at the newly organized Concord Baptist Church. From that time on, Concord became almost a homiletics class for me, because Bailey invited the best from all over the country to preach there: Drs. Bernie Lee Faison, William Shaw, Scott, Ceasar Clark, Lloyd C. Blue, just to mention a few.
E.K. freely shared his successes and his failures; his triumphs and his mistakes. He was charismatic, humorous, fiercely curious and devoted to his family and his church.
When he discovered principles that helped cause Concord to grow into one of the largest churches in the country, he started the Church Growth Institute to share those principles with other pastors. As challenges and difficulties of black male responsibility began to reveal themselves he started workshops to address that issue.
His crowning achievement, however, was the E.K. Bailey Expository Preaching Conference. He loved teaching preachers how to preach and bringing the best expositors from wherever he could find them, to share their expertise with his colleagues in ministry.
E.K. Bailey died in 2004. He prepared the church in a marvelously selfless way for a future without him, selecting Bryan Carter as his successor as Senior Pastor. Bryan is a wonderful man, doing an excellent job. Concord's growth trajectory, even after Bailey has been phenomenal. But it is because he had great foresight and because he prepared the church to move forward.
There is a huge hole in the church world since E.K. left us. The sermon here, was his courageous way of sharing his struggle with cancer with his congregation. In doing so, we have a glimpse into the mind, heart and soul of the man...and what made the rest of us better for having known him.