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Rev. Dr. B. Herbert Martin

Garrett Theological Seminary 1971

Senior Pastor, Progressive Community Church, Chicago, Illinois

In his role as senior pastor, Rev. Dr. B. Herbert Martin is a visionary who seeks to create “an inclusive community under the cross of Jesus Christ, a praying ground for all people.” As he works to build a ministry that is cross-cultural, interfaith, and engaging, Rev. Martin draws inspiration from The Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . .” (Matthew 28). If churches are to thrive, Rev. Martin believes, this call must be taken seriously and interpreted in new ways. For example, he seeks to “preach and teach the power of the cross as the core of the gospel and to apply liberating forces in our society and community as they deal with the powers and principalities that many times become so oppressive in our neighborhoods.” This emphasis on public ministry emerges from his passion for the commission Jesus entrusted us with: “You lose your motivation if it’s not grounded in this, what is sustainable is what Jesus told us to do.”

In his almost-50 years in ministry, Rev. Martin has seen insurmountable challenges in the communities he has served: death and dying, poverty, crime, lack of education, poor housing, unemployment, displacement, and conflicts with law enforcement. A significant part of his ministerial role, then, is pastoral care—providing inspiration, keeping alive an “eschatological hope,” and helping people see the bigger picture beyond their daily lives. He acknowledges the challenge of witnessing so much need on a daily basis: “One can become saturated with the raw data of human pain . . . you can become overwhelmed, especially when dealing with limited resources.”

But he also is a “true gospel believer” who knows that the Word of God is the only way to sustain him and the people he serves. It was at Garrett-Evangelical that Rev. Martin developed a soteriology that is both personal and communal, and he calls on this in his everyday ministry:

“We have to exemplify the power of the resurrection daily and how that gospel applies to our liberation . . . how do we teach it to people so it’s more than just a recitation of Scripture? The pastor has to live that out in the community with the people outside of Sunday preaching.”

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