Frederick D. Haynes III on succeeding Jesse Jackson, marching and ‘woke preaching’

Adelle M. Banks/Religion News Service | 7/27/2023, 6 p.m.
The Rev. Frederick D. Haynes III, who has led a Black megachurch in Dallas for 40 years, has just been …
Rev. Haynes

The Rev. Frederick D. Haynes III, who has led a Black megachurch in Dallas for 40 years, has just been chosen to succeed the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was president of Rainbow PUSH Coalition for more than five decades.

Like Rev. Jackson, the senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church has been known for preaching and protesting, following in the footsteps of role models like the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The son and grandson of Baptist preachers, Rev. Haynes, 62, talked by phone with Religion News Service about succeeding his mentor, “woke preaching,” and whether marching is still effective for a new generation.

RNS: There are some topics that the coalition has traditionally worked on such as voting rights and economic justice, as you just mentioned. Is there a particular area of concern you hope to add to its agenda?

Rev. Haynes: Without question, environmental injustice plagues not only our communities but the planet. Climate change has our world on fire, almost literally. And on the frontlines, being most victimized by climate change are communities of color, Black and brown, Indigenous communities that often are in proximity to the kinds of emission-producing apparati that harm the environment and create the kind of climate that those communities have to suffer from and inhale. We will be involved in the fight to protect the environment, but at the same time we’re especially going to focus in on how climate change fueled by environmental injustice has done such harm to the most vulnerable communities. When we think about the water contamination from Flint (Michigan) to Jackson (Mississippi) to West Helena, Ark., those are vulnerable communities, and Rainbow PUSH will be on the frontlines of that fight for environmental justice.

RNS: How will you juggle leading the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and maintaining your role as a senior pastor at Friendship-West Baptist?

Rev. Haynes: I don’t know that it will be that much of a new juggle because I’ve been blessed to pastor Friendship- West for 40 years, and we have built a solid infrastructure. I have a great staff, a wonderful church, quite supportive. And the work I’ll be doing at Rainbow PUSH is, in reality, a larger platform of work I’ve always been doing.