rev-dr-james-a-forbes-jr_web.jpg(Florida International University) –Liberty City — Living a life of the body and the spirit is what makes people feel productive and satisfied, an internationally known preacher told a gathering at the Church of the Open Door in Liberty City.

“You can be alive but dead in spirit,” the Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes Jr. told the crowd gathered for the opening of the church's annual three-day revival on Sept. 26.

Forbes, senior minister emeritus of The Riverside Church in New York City, told the congregation to “stand up and make a difference in your community, stand up and raise families, stand up and bring light to those who need hope.”

Alternately shouting and lowering his voice almost to a whisper, Forbes had the congregation laughing, smiling and, at times, crying, as they murmured “Amen” and raised their hands in agreement with his words.

“I object to being dead. I want to be alive,” Forbes asserted. “Can I get an ‘Amen’?”

In 1987, Forbes became the first African American to serve as senior minister at Riverside Church, a prominent interdenominational and interracial congregation near Columbia University, on the border between Harlem and the Upper West Side.

Founded 81 years ago, the 2,400-member church is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches and the United Church of Christ.

Forbes, who retired from the church four years ago, continues to preach throughout the United States and in such far-flung locales at Kenya and Israel.

Church of the Open Door pastor, the Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis, described him as a genius and the perfect person to participate in this year's church event. 

“We do this revival worship program to unify, praise and break boundaries,” Willis said.

William Koch, regional minister of United Church of Christ of the Southeast Region of Florida, said Forbes' style fit well with the revival and supported the organization's “All are one” motto.


PREACHING: The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes Jr.'s energetic preaching inspired those who attended the Church of the Open Door's recent annual three-day revival.