Warren H. Stewart, Sr.–More Work, Less Talk
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your organization; how did you become involved in your current work?
My name is Warren H. Stewart, Sr. God has blessed me to serve as the Senior Pastor of the First Institutional Baptist Church in Phoenix, Arizona, since July 1, 1977, the first and only church I have ever pastored. This congregation called me to pastor them right out of seminary after completing my Master of Divinity and Master of Sacred Theology degrees at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.
Why is the Black Church important?
The Black Church is the delivery room for servant leaders who are called and equipped to address the holistic ills of our everyday existence. It is God’s Church given to the Black community as a place of refuge, redemption, restoration, and revolution which has historically been engaged in liberating Black people holistically from the restraints that have been forced on us by others, and sometimes by ourselves. It is the most independent voice of and resource for people of African descent and others in the USA.
You have accomplished so much! You've brought about meaningful change in your community, and impacted so many lives–what inspires you to persevere as a “soldier of justice”?
Yours truly is created in the image and likeness of God who, with God’s help, is endeavoring to advocate for JESUS AND JUSTICE by love in action for every human being in my circles of influence. My aim is to fulfill the purpose for which God created me and Jesus Christ saved and called me to witness for Him.
In your opinion, what perpetuates the state of health disparities today?
Regrettably, in Arizona and across our nation, health disparities among people of color, especially African Americans, are pronounced, painful, and pathological. It is an oppressive oxymoron that systemic racism continues to permit and perpetuate injurious and deadly health disparities in the greatest country in the world.
How can the church and an organization such as ours use its time, resources, and talent to advance equity?
By following the guidance of the Holy Spirit in using our time, talent, and treasure to represent Jesus and justice whenever and wherever injustice raises its destructive head to limit life in its fullness, especially for Black people and other marginalized peoples.
Do you feel it's important for communities to engage and partner with larger institutions like Mayo Clinic? What are the benefits of doing so?
Mayo Clinic and other similar larger institutions have been abundantly blessed with resources to improve the lives of countless human beings. Therefore, by partnering with communities of color, especially the Black Church, those institutions can learn from communities of color and our communities can learn from Mayo Clinic and other similar institutions. It is a partnership that goes both ways to the benefit of all.
What types of institutional and social changes are necessary to address health inequities?
Confessing of systemic racism (even in Mayo Clinic) and repenting, that is, going in the opposite direction to right the wrongs done to people of color intentionally or ignorantly. As far as the health inequities, naming them first, claiming them, and reframing them until they are reduced and eliminated.
What are some current challenges that you see in your community?
A report on the state of health of Black people in Maricopa County revealed that African Americans lead seven of the eight reasons for mortality in the county! The only category (cause of death) in which Black people did not lead was suicide.
Health disparities and societal inequities have existed for a long time–for decades. What will it take for the next 20 years to tell a different story?
Much more work than talk!
Dr. Warren H. Stewart, Sr., is Pastor of the First Institutional Baptist Church of Phoenix, Arizona, and has served there since 1977. Over the years his humanitarian efforts have focused on housing, health care, and immigration reform, and he's committed to defending civil rights and paving the way for social justice in Arizona. Pastor Stewart served as the first General Chairperson for Arizonians for a Martin Luther King, Jr. State Holiday, which contributed significantly to the legislative passage of Arizona’s Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on September 21, 1989. He is recognized as “a man of conscience, commitment and dedication to the cause of moral leadership, human rights and a soldier of justice and equality.”
Connect with Pastor Stewart:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Twitter: @Whstewartsr