(Note: I first met Ray Scales in 1988 when I was a cub newspaper reporter and he was the lead camera person for the local television station. A few years later he followed a calling to ministry and still pastors at New Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Each year, he serves as chair of our local Martin Luther King Day Parade.)
If I could assemble a roomful of people to solve the world’s most challenging problems, I’d want you in that room. Truth is, you’d have a seat on the front row. In fact, yesterday I took a few moments to think about some of the wisest, most experienced people I know, and you were high on the list.
I remember the conversations we’d have during trial breaks at the courthouse, or waiting on a political candidate to show up 30 minutes late, even surveying the damage from a storm the night before. If news was being made, you were there. And you were good at it, too.
By the way, do you know you have one of the most unique, special voices ever? It’s
calming, full of assurance and peace. I would speak with you for hours just to listen to your voice, Rev.
It caught me off guard a bit when you said you’d decided to leave the news business for the ministry. I knew I’d miss you out there. But you’re also one of the first people I know who left something comfortable to pursue a true calling. I did the same a few years later, and I thought about you.
The first time I attended church at New Mt. Zion, I guess you could call it work related, unfortunately. Politicians feel the need to be seen in certain places – you know how that game is played – and I was just taking care of the boss. But honestly, I tell you, being there was a thrill.
Thank you so much for welcoming me back in the times I came because I wanted to be there. Those times were nothing short of joyful. Now that I think about it, I’m way overdue for another visit.
Thank you for the wisdom you’ve shown and the contributions you’ve made to Jonesboro regarding race relations. The open, honest conversations we’ve shared helped me see things more clearly. “We all carry prejudice,” I remember you telling me. “It’s just a matter of what we do with it and how we think about the way God wants us to treat other people.”
Thank you for not getting mad at me early on the Saturday morning following Jack Hill’s death when I woke you with an early phone call and picked your brain for memories. I loved hearing those stories so much. You guys sure did some great work back in the day.
You’re one of my favorite people, and I wanted you to know it, Rev. May the Lord bless and keep you.
Your brother in Christ,