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William GlazeWilliam Glaze

JS: Hi, this is John Stanko, back once again for a talk, an interview, with one of our urban heroes. And we’re defining an urban hero as someone who is doing a wonderful job in the community and may not get all the honor and notice that they could, or should, because they are working behind the scenes. And today I have a very special guest; he’s the chairman of the board of the Center for Urban Biblical Ministry. And that’s Reverend William Glaze. Pastor Bill, hello, how are you?

WG: I’m doing well.

JS: Good. Welcome to Urban Heroes.

WG: Good to be a part of the program.

JS: Well, we are honored to have you. And tell our listeners and readers a little bit about yourself; what you are doing right now.

WG: Well, I’m involved in a number of things. I’m especially focused on the urban area. The one is that I’m the pastor of the Bethany Baptist Church, which is right in the heart of the city of Pittsburgh. We’re in a place where there’s a lot of notoriety, sadly for some of the wrong things. We have a lot of crime, drugs and gangs in our neighborhood. And it seems to get better at times and other times it goes back to the negative element.

So you know, we’re trying to do a lot of things in our church to just be a blessing to the community. We have a food bank that we offer to the community where people can come and get food. And we have a soup kitchen on Friday afternoons where people come to get a meal. We’re also involved in some youth programs. We have a summer youth program and just a number of things that we’re trying to do to touch the youth. We’re about to start a mentoring program at the Helen Faison Elementary School. So that’s some of the things that we’re doing here at Bethany.

I am also the chairman of the board for the Center of Urban Biblical Ministry, which is reaching into the urban community. [We are] trying to educate and motivate Christian workers in the churches, you know, to be the best they can be for Christ.

[And I am also] the president of the Homewood/Brushton Ministerium. And we have several initiatives going on there. I don’t know if you want me to list those, or if you just want me to identify.

JS: Well, I think we can get to that. But let’s talk a little bit. Let’s go back to Bethany. You’ve been the pastor there for how long?

WG: For nineteen years.

JS: Nineteen years! And of course Bethany is located in Homewood. That’s the neighborhood you were referring to. Now, talk to us about being in Homewood, or Bethany, or any place for nineteen years. What’s been involved? How have you been able to stay as long as you have and stay motivated as long as you have?

WG: Well, obviously a couple things. First of all, you know, I give all honor to God, who is the One who gives us strength and the wisdom to do things that we have to do. Also, I’d like to thank my wife, who has supported me for these nineteen years. She’s been a part of the ministry here. But even more importantly, just knowing that I’m able to go home and have a relationship with a loving, caring, spiritual wife, that has been a motivation to me, and helped me to just persevere for these nineteen years.

You know, I would also say having a sense of call, knowing that God has called me here to do what He would have me do. [I try to] constantly keep vision before the people. We accomplish one thing and then we move on to something else. I think that when you accomplish something and you begin to rest on your laurels, you become stagnant. So, you know, I’ve always tried to keep a fresh vision, something new in front of the people, so that we can be excited about it and we’re always moving to the next thing that God would have us to do.

JS: Now, a lot of churches, people come to church on Sunday, they may do a midweek service, and then they go home. And not just in Homewood, but in any neighborhood, in any community. How have you been able to get people involved, and how have you been able to start and sustain and maintain the initiatives you mentioned earlier?

WG: Well, you know, one of the things we’re big here on is spiritual gifts. And all of our new members come from new members class. They go through a section on spiritual gifts and we try to get each one to identify what their spiritual gift is. Because I believe if people identify their gifts and then operate in the area of their giftedness, that there’s fulfillment and excitement around that.

I think a lot of times at the church that people step up and do things because there’s nobody else to do it. And sometimes that’s where you get the bad attitudes and sometimes you get people that really are not serving with their whole heart because it’s not something they are motivated by the Holy Spirit to do. So I think that we’ve worked really hard to try to get people to operate in the area of their giftedness. And to me, I think that once you do that, you can kind of channel people to the places where their gifts are needed.

Now the other thing I would say, and once again I appreciate this church, is that we have a wide variety of ministries. So, instead of just having just a narrow choice of ministries to get involved in, we have a wide spectrum of ministries, so that as people understand what their gifts are, there are a lot of opportunities to exercise their gift. So I would say a combination of the two things: helping people to identify their gifts and also having a wide variety of ministries for people to operate within their giftedness have really helped us to be able to sustain the ministry that we have here.

JS: Now, some churches, when they’re faced with neighborhood issues and challenges tend to go find another neighborhood. But that hasn’t been your philosophy at all. In fact I think you, just a few years ago, invested pretty heavily in building a new facility. Have you had thoughts ever of leaving or has an opportunity come up? Talk to us about staying in that one area for nineteen years.

WG: In our present building we have an education facility with about 19 classrooms, a nursery, a fellowship hall, and a gymnasium. Now we’ve converted our gymnasium into a worship facility because we tore down our old church, and we’re in the process, hopefully within the next couple years to begin construction on a new worship facility.

I think it was back in 2001 before we put up this building, we had talked at one point, we talked about moving to another area. Maybe it would be a lot more feasible for us to take the money that we saved up, and any loan money that we could get, and move and buy a facility that was already up and going and we could just move into that. But that was just talk, because we came to the table and found out that we didn’t want to abandon this neighborhood. And we feel that the Spirit of God, through the church, is in the neighborhood. And if we take that Spirit out of this particular neighborhood, which definitely needs the Spirit of God, then that would be a great deficit that would be left behind. So, we made the commitment that we were going to stay here and try to make a difference in this community.

JS: Tell us a little bit about the new mentoring program you mentioned at Faison School.

WG: This is in conjunction with the Homewood- Brushton Ministerium. They have looked at all the crime and all the violence that we see in our neighborhood. And there were so many different ways that it could be addressed. There are just so many avenues that you could approach to begin to try and wrap your arms around this crime issue. So we kind of narrowed it down and said, “Well, let’s focus on education. And let’s make that our thing, and let’s try to impact the children in this community and maybe that will have an impact on some of the crime.”

So we’ve done the education initiative. I know that there was a statistic that came out earlier this year, put out by Allegheny County, and it said that if you get sixteen more kids every year to graduate, it would reduce the crime rate by ten murders a year within the city of Pittsburgh. So we said let’s focus on that. Let’s work on motivating the kids in education.

So as a part of that we’ve offered that to the churches of Homewood. And Bethany has joined in with that effort to go into Faison Elementary School and begin a mentoring program with some of the [students]. Now the rest of the churches are doing what their specialty is and what their niche is. And we’re specifically going to focus on the young men. We want to begin to touch the lives of some of the young men in this community. So that’s the mentoring program that we’re going to do. So we’re working that through.

Actually, it’s a collaborative between the Homewood-Brushton Ministerium, the Pittsburgh Board of Education, and Family Guidance. They have a program called The Lamp Program where they introduce mentoring into the public schools. Our church has become a part of that initiative within the Homewood community.

JS: Now you said this is a partnership that involves the Homewood/-rushton Ministerium, and you mentioned earlier, I believe, [that you are] the head of that. Talk to us about the cooperation level among the churches in Homewood and how long you’ve been involved with the organization and how long you’ve been leading it.

WG: Well, I think loosely, yeah I think at one point the Homewood-Brushton Ministerium was up and going, and this was years ago, and it was a mighty force in our community. Some of the leaders either passed away or moved on. And I think that it kind of died out. So I’ve always had that loose connection with the Ministerium.

And a couple years ago it was resurrected by a couple of ministers who said, “Let’s bring this thing back and let’s get it going again.” So initially there was someone else that kind of headed it up. And God called him to Atlanta, Georgia, and at that point I became president of the Ministerium, and it’s been a great association. I’ve gotten to know some of the pastors of the local churches here in Homewood on a more intimate level,. I found a spirit of cooperation.

When you look at individuals that are leading churches, you realize that they are coming from a congregation where people are looking to them for leadership. They are the individuals that are calling the shots, so to speak. And then to come together and say, “Okay, well we’re going to submit ourselves to this organization and to our president.” I found that very refreshing that these men and women would be willing to do that. So we’ve had a great cooperation as we’ve worked together, and I would say probably over the last seven or eight years that we’ve been up and going again.

JS: And then you had also mentioned the organization that’s sponsoring the Urban Heroes initiative. And that’s the Center for Urban Biblical Ministry. I know you have been involved for quite a few years as the chairman of the board. You mentioned a little bit earlier what its purpose was. But just expand a little bit more about your passion and commitment to be with that organization, also for a fairly long time, I think twelve or thirteen years.

WG: Right. When I came back to Pittsburgh, I was looking for a church, and I kind of put this out there that I wasn’t going to pastor a church unless they were involved in two things. Number one that it was a Bible-teaching church; it definitely had to be that. And then the second thing was that they had to be involved in missions. And that was my heart in coming to pastor a church.

So once again, looking at that first vision that God put on my heart about a Bible-teaching church, I have a strong desire to see people educated in not only the Bible, even though the Bible is number one, but also in the Christian faith. When the opportunity came to join together with the Center for Urban Biblical Ministry, it fit right into the passion of my heart, and that is education. So I’m excited to be a part of seeing people come and equip themselves, not only in the word of God, but also with Christian ideas, Christian philosophies.

I know that we have a business program and somebody might say, “Well, you know that’s not really related to the Bible or to the Christian faith.” However, the thing that I even like about that is that it presents the business perspective from a Christian worldview. Once again, it ties into the spirit and the heart of why I’m with the Center for Urban Biblical Ministry.

JS: And for how many years have you been the chairperson?

WG: Now, that’s a good question. I believe, probably at least ten years anyways. I would say at least ten years that I’ve been the president of the organization. You know, I need to go back and specifically see when I became the president. I’ve been a part of the organization for about fifteen years.

JS: And you said, “When I came back to Pittsburgh.” Where were you before that?

WG: I was in Virginia. I had gone to Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary where I did my Masters work. And after I graduated from there, I went on to get a doctorate of sacred theology. And while I was there, I was also coaching football. So I was a football coach, but yet still I knew God had called me to preach, and I was just waiting for Him to open up the door for that opportunity that He wanted me to serve Him wherever it might be.

And so God led me back to my hometown of Pittsburgh, where I was originally from, but had left. I was gone for almost twenty years. When I graduated from high school, I went to Fort Louis College in Durango, Colorado. And that’s where I got my undergraduate degree. And God called me to Lynchburg. And so I was in Lynchburg, Virginia right before I came back to Pittsburgh.

JS: Where did you get your community involvement value? You said when you came back to Pittsburgh that you had a very clear understanding of what kind of church you wanted to be a part of and what your philosophy would be, not only in the church but outside the church. How did that get developed? Where did that come from?

WG: I would say a lot of that got developed once I got here. The drawing card for me was once again the strong Bible-teaching church and the missions church. And then once I got here and began to see the devastation in the community and how that the community, when I came here nineteen years ago, really was dying.

And it was just taken over by crime and drugs, and all types of negative elements. So at that point, you just heard the cry coming from the community that somebody needs to do something. I can’t tell you that we’ve revolutionized this whole community, but we have seen God use us to make a difference. And I would say for me, it was a response to the needs of the community once I got here.

JS: You’re from Pittsburgh. Tell us a little bit about growing up in Pittsburgh, and what part of the city, and just what was life like in the Glaze household.

WG: I grew up in Braddock, which back in the late 60’s/early 70’s was a great metropolis for steel. We had a steel mill right in the city of Braddock, the Edgar Thompson Works. So Braddock was a flourishing area, and it was an area in which there were a lot of things happening. And so our family grew up right in the midst of that.

My dad was a steel worker. My mother was a stayat- home mom. I was educated in the system of General Braddock and I was very much into sports. I loved to play football. As a matter of fact, I thought that one day I was going to end up in the NFL. That was my dream, and that was my heart, that was my passion, to be able to play in the National Football League. I had the opportunity to try out for a couple of professional teams: the Dallas Cowboys and the Denver Broncos. But it just wasn’t in the will of God for me to do that. So that was my heart growing up.

I must say that I didn’t really grow up in a Christian home. I grew up in a very wholesome home, one in which my mother and father provided good role models. My dad was a provider, and there was a lot of responsibility taught, even though it wasn’t a Christian home. I wasn’t influenced by the church or Jesus Christ as I grew up.

JS: Now, how did you end up in Colorado?

WG: Well, one of the coaches who was recruiting for a small college in Colorado actually grew up in the Braddock area. And he ended up going to this school [in Colorado]. He went to the school, and he played football there, and went on to get his masters degree. Then he started coaching [there]. I guess he had some conversation with the head coach that maybe they could get some good athletes out of the Pittsburgh area.

So he came back and actually talked to the coaches at the school where I was. And at the time, I really wasn’t that concerned about what he had to say or even going to the school. Because I had talked to University of North Carolina, Penn State, and the University of Florida. That’s kind of where I had my sites set. But I had messed around early on in my high school experience as a sophomore and as a junior, and really didn’t have the grades that I should have had. And then when it came time to take the SAT, I didn’t do well on that. So as a result of that, some of those big schools that I had visions of going to kind of backed off.

And then this opportunity was left for this small college in Colorado, which I ended up walking through that door. And I think that was a great experience for me, because it truly had a great impact on my life and my spiritual life.

JS: Yeah, tell us about that. How you didn’t grow up in church and now you spend all of your time in church. So how did that transition take place?

WG: Well it was very interesting. A very good friend of mine, who’s pastoring a church in Braddock right now, Liberty Baptist Church. His name is pastor Alvin Berkley. And he started that church, and he was a high school buddy. We played football, baseball, and basketball together. I remember one summer evening, we were all sitting. And he came where we were sitting, and began to offer us all a joint of marijuana. And so we started smoking it. And that was my introduction to getting high. And so that started, and I must have been about 15 or 16. So that started my career of getting high.

And it was very interesting. I had started college, and came back home one summer. And almost in the exact same spot, we were sitting out there again, and he came by. And this time he didn’t offer us a joint, but he had offered us Christ. He had gotten saved, and he came back and I guess the Lord convicted his heart that he had led some of us down that road to drugs, He figured that maybe he needed to go and share with these brothers about Jesus Christ. So he came back and shared with us about Christ.

A lot of guys didn’t want to hear it. And he said that he was going to church that evening. It was on a Sunday, and asked me if I wanted to go with him that evening, and I said definitely. I’d like to go and I went to church with him that Sunday evening, and I gave my heart to Jesus Christ that night.

JS: Any other… What do you do in your spare time? You’re pretty busy, you’re involved. What do you do to relax and chill out? Anything?

WG: Well I have two hobbies or passions outside of what I do for Christ. One is I like to work out. I usually go to the gym three to four times a week. When I was in college, I won a weightlifting competition. So I kind of continued on with that. And I’ve had to back off a little bit; I’ve had some shoulder problems. So I haven’t been able to lift as heavy as I used to. But I’m still in the gym lifting, and I really enjoy that.

And the second thing is gardening. I like to have a vegetable garden every summer. And I had one this year. And most of my stuff is doing well. But I don’t know if you read in the newspaper this Sunday about this fungus that’s hit the tomatoes. So I have to say I’m a victim of the fungus.

JS: (laughing) We’re out in Monroeville, and the fungus hasn’t hit us out here. I’m having a pretty good year. Now tell us about your family. You mentioned your wife, Angie. Tell us about your children.

WG: Okay. I have four children, all adults at this point. My oldest daughter is right here in the city and she has three children. I have another son who is a fitness instructor out in Tucson, Arizona. Just recently he really felt that he wanted to go into the field of medicine. So the easiest way for him to do that, he has a college degree from Geneva College was to join the Army. He’s going to get a medical training, and hopefully to go on into the field of medicine once he gets finished with that.

Another son is out in Albuquerque, New Mexico. And then I have a daughter who is here in Pittsburgh also who has a child. So I’ve got four children: two daughters still here in Pittsburgh; a son, right now in San Antonio, Texas; another son in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and four grandchildren right here in the city of Pittsburgh.

JS: Looking back, and as we get a little older, we get more reflective and can have more to reflect on. What do you think, of all the things you’ve done, what would you look at as the most significant accomplishment at this time?

WG: To me, I would say, the most significant accomplishment, outside of marrying my wife, which was a significant accomplishment for me, is just the opportunity to start a Bible institute here at Bethany Baptist Church and to have a biblical counseling program that’s a part of that Bible institute. And we just see a lot of people who have come through here that have been counseled from the Scriptures. And we haven’t helped everybody, but we’ve seen several people that have made a change as a result of coming through this counseling program. So I would say that’s probably one of my most significant things that I would look back on, that’s had an impact on the lives of many people here in the city of Pittsburgh.

JS: And who impacted you? Is there any other person, historical, or someone you knew that made a big difference and gave you a direction and a concept of what you wanted to do.

WG: Right. I would say a couple people. Number one, and I know not everybody and especially African Americans were a fan of this individual, but he definitely had an impact on my life, and that was Dr. Jerry Falwell. Where I went to school, I remember his saying when I was there, “Whenever you go somewhere and they mention my name, you either duck or pucker. That means somebody’s going to open up their arms and kiss you and love you, or their going to take a swing at you.”

I found that to be true, especially as I’ve come back to the city of Pittsburgh. But he definitely had an impact on my life as far as faith. I’ve seen this man start with an empty mountain. And if you go to Liberty University today, you’ll see that that’s a first-class university that’s competing at every academic and athletic level that’s out there. And the thing that really gripped me about his life was faith, how he just trusted God.

As far as preaching, I would say that , I guess I’m a disciple of Dr. E.V. Hill. He was a pastor out in Los Angeles, and he came to Liberty a couple times and preached. I remember the first time I heard him preach. He just had a profound impact on my life. And every time he came, I would get the tapes of his sermons and I would just listen to him over and over again. His delivery seemed to really grip people and really grab them. He definitely had an impact on my life.

Pastor Berkley, the pastor over in Braddock who was instrumental in me coming to Jesus Christ, had an impact on my life. Then one more individual who I went to seminary with who was a couple years older than me, he just kind of took me under his wing and discipled me as a minister. His name is Dr. Allen McFarland and he pastors Calvary Evangelical Baptist Church in Portsmouth, Virginia. So I would say those four individuals had the greatest impact.

JS: How about anybody historical? Wesley or anyone? Have you been impacted by their lives?

WG: I would say probably the greatest impact on my life, might be Martin Luther, just because of his boldness to stand up for what he believed in. He was able to lead in reference to some of the fundamentals of the historic Christian faith.

JS: How about a favorite verse or passage? What comes back to you again and again that speaks to you?

WG: There are several of them that I love. But I guess the one that specifically speaks to my heart is the one where it talks about Ezra - I think it’s 7:10 – where it says Ezra sought to study the word of God, to do the word of God, and then to teach the word of God. And I’ve kind of wanted, and can’t say that I’ve done it to a T, but I’ve wanted to model my life after that: to study the word, and then to live the word, to do those two things, and then to teach the word. I would say that’s really, that verse has really gripped my heart.

JS: As we wrap up, any words of advice. Someone listening or reading, and they’re wondering how they can make a difference, or if they can make a difference. What would you say to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps, or others footsteps, to be an Urban Hero as we are defining it?

WG: Well I would say it is birthed out of the relationship with God. I would really encourage people to be faithful to their time with God. I think that as you do that, He puts vision on your heart specifically of what it is that he would have you to do.

I was just sharing with somebody yesterday, that when God wanted to bring an awareness among men in our country in the last ten years, he didn’t use a preacher. He didn’t use a theologian. But he used a football coach, Bill McCartney. He was a football coach at Colorado University. And he has had a great influence on men’s movement in our country. So that lets me know that if you seek God first, that He’ll show you what it is that He wants you to do.

Once God lays on your heart what he wants you to do, then I would go to Ecclesiastes 10:9, where it says, “Whatever thy hand finds to do, do it with all thy might.” If your hand is a father, do it with all your might. If your hand is a steelworker, do that with all your might. If your hand is in community service, do that with all your might. And whatever ministry or vision God places on your heart, do it with all your might and to make a difference through that.

JS: Now you have a regular radio program, don’t you?

WG: Right. It’s called Anchored in Jesus. It comes on Word FM 101.5 Monday through Friday from 7 to 7:30 pm.

JS: Done any writing? Any publications? Anything out yet?

WG: I’ve done a lot of manuals here at the church. I am just looking for ways and opportunities to maybe even publish those. And it’s interesting that you would ask that question. I had a guy call me and he’s waiting for me to call him back. And he’s getting married, and I’ve done a premarital counseling manual that I put together and I use here at the church. I use it and I take people through it. And he lives in another city and he’s getting married, and he used to be a member of the church.

He called me and asked me if I knew of anything. And I told him there are a few, and I recommended some Dennis Rainey and some Norman Wright stuff. And then I said, “I’ve done this manual.” And I sent it to him. And he just left a message and said that he and his fiancée had just gone through the whole thing. And it’s about 60 pages. And he said, “We had some questions that we wanted to ask you.” I was kind of impressed. Like I said, I used it here, but I was impressed that he took the initiative to take the manual and go through it, just him and his fiance. But you know, I’ve done a lot of stuff like that and hopefully I’d like to take some of the research I’ve done on some of the series that I’ve preached and maybe put that into book form.

JS: Well, we have no doubt that you will be able to do that. And we certainly look to giving our Urban Heroes readers and listeners updates on the good things you’re doing at Bethany and in Homewood and in your own personal life. Again, we want to thank you for the role you play in our community. You really are an Urban Hero. And one tha tmany of us could look to, to emulate and to learn from. So thank you Dr. Reverend. We appreciate your time and all that you do.

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