Folks in Midlothian, Texas are having conversations about “making new history.” The dialogue was initiated by Demetrius McClendon, senior pastor of One Church. Most people in town know him as “Pastor Mac.”
Pastor Mac is a big city kind of guy. He grew up in Terrell, went to university in Austin and began his professional career as a worship leader in Dallas. When God called him out to the country, he wasn’t even in this country. Yet, after having met Pastor Mac, it makes sense. He’s the kind of person that challenges the status quo and shatters stereotypes with an abundance of grace.
For these reasons and many more, our editorial team selected One Church as our Church Spotlight in URBANwell Magazine Vol. 3 Issue 4. What follows is an excerpt from our original interview with the man who is passionate about making new history in Midlothian, Texas.
You’re church services are so fun … I had no idea you could sing! Worship has been a big part of my life. The funny thing is, people around here don’t know me as a singer. I sang my first solo when I was 5, played piano when I was 10, and preached my first public sermon when I was 15. I was a member of the choir at Huston–Tillotson University. After graduation, my choir director recommended me for a position at Concord Church in Dallas. I served with them as the minister of music for 6 years.
How did you end up in Midlothian? In April 2006 I went on a prayer retreat. I felt firm that the Lord had given us a new direction to pursue. I called my wife and said, “Babe, the spirit is talking. It’s time for us to leave.”
That was a major decision because I was the only one working at the time. I had a history of making Spirit-led decisions. So, she said, “Okay.” As soon as I hung up the phone with her, a friend of mine called. He was looking for someone to lead worship for him. God sustained us for 4 months. And then God did what only he could do – My wife and I went to Germany!
We were there for a worship extravaganza. While there, just like at the prayer retreat, I felt firm that the Lord was redirecting us. He wanted us to organize a church – name it One Church – and put it in Midlothian. I got on the computer right there in Germany and searched for “Midlothian.” For a minute, I had no idea where Midlothian was, even though we lived right down the road in Mansfield. Of course, being in Germany, a search for “Midlothian” takes you to real places in Europe. I’m “so smart” and thinking we had to move to Germany. Of course, my wife knew better. She said, “Check it, settle down.”
When we returned from Germany, I started driving around Midlothian because I didn’t know anything about the city. I didn’t even know anyone. So I would just drive over and pray.
One day I decided to stop at First Baptist Church. I ended up visiting with senior pastor Bruce Prindle for over an hour. You would have thought we were really good friends. We talked and talked and talked.
Then I went to First United Methodist Church. At the time, Carl Freeto was the senior pastor. I sat in his office, again for over an hour, and we just talked talked talked. He asked me questions, I asked him questions. It was just a beautiful moment.
Carl invited me to the Ministerial Alliance, an interfaith group that meets in Midlothian. At the meeting he introduced me and afterwards he called me. He said, “The Father said to me that you are to use our building … for free.”
For the whole first year of existence of One Church, we resided right there at First United Methodist Church. Matter of fact, we just had our ten year anniversary service over there. To this very day, if there was ever anything we needed as a church, First United Methodist Church has always been like a big sister for us. There are friendships that I have right now, because of our time there.
Wow. I love how you honored the existing churches and pastors. The way I was taught – when you go somewhere – you go and talk to the guards. That’s what old preachers were called, the guards. The people that have been there. As a newcomer, you just learn the layout of the land. Since I didn’t know anybody, and since there were not that many churches here, I went to whoever was there. I also went to Mount Pleasant, the only black baptist church here in Midlothian. Reverend Reynolds was the pastor there. I said, “I’d love to meet with you and see if I could get some time with you.” To this day we’ll get together and we’ll just talk.
I think it’s part of respecting the people that were here. Especially those that are in a different generation than I am. Respecting that generation for the ministry that they have brought to the table for all these years. I didn’t want them thinking I was coming in to save the day. No. No. No. I’m only here because the Lord told me to serve Midlothian, too.
What are you focusing on in 2018? I call it “Making New History.” Ever since Ferguson, I’ve been meeting with Larry Atchley, the pastor of Freedom Church in Buffalo Hills. There are some things about white people that I don’t understand and there’s things about black people he doesn’t understand. So, if we are going to understand one another we have to have relationship, which begins with having a conversation. As pastors, that conversation naturally begins with our church families. We’ve been learning from one another for almost two years. It helps to dispel some of the silliness and some of the ignorance. We’ve also brought together some of the leaders in the city – business owners, coaches and parents – to discuss our concern for the cultural divide in Midlothian. Really, the issues expand out to the edges of our county lines but we have to start somewhere. Our churches come together to worship, read scripture and just have a conversation about culture and what’s going on in our society. Making new history begins with having conversations.
If you would like to join the conversation on social media, use the hashtag #MakingNewHistory. Connect with Pastor Mac on Facebook to learn more about the next community gathering for conversations about culture.