New pastor recommended for Mississippi Boulevard | 12/11/2012, 1:35 p.m.

A congregational meeting will follow the Jan. 13 service to determine whether Rev. Turner will be appointed as the new senior pastor. If approved, Turner would succeed Senior Pastor Dr. Frank A. Thomas.

The announcement about Turner came during a congregational meeting at the church on Monday evening. The Pulpit Committee reported that after an intense search and review of several hundred applicants for the position of senior pastor, the committee selected three candidates who met all the criteria. Committee members interviewed and visited each candidate, and decided to recommend only one to the Church Council and congregation for a final decision.

A letter from Glen J. Stewart, regional minister and president of Christian Church in Tennessee Disciples of Christ, shed light on the selection process.

"A part of the process is to propose one candidate to the Church Council and the congregation of the church. This is done because it has been found that to put more than one name before the congregation often divides a congregation," Stewart wrote. "Secondly, strict confidentiality is needed by pastors being interviewed. The presentation of multiple candidates would make confidentiality impossible.

"Further, the reason this pulpit committee has been called to find your next pastor is because we trust these people and we trust that God will work through them to find the right person to lead our congregation. I know you thrust every member of this committee just as I do."

Rev. Turner attends Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, N.Y. and anticipates a Doctor of Ministry in May 2014. He's a graduate of Yale University Divinity School, where he received his Masters of Divinity in May, 2006. Turner also has Bachelor of Arts degree (magna cum laude) (May, 2003).

Rev. Turner is the youngest son of Donzetta Webb Turner and the Rev. James C. Turner, Sr., who is the pastor of Nashville's New Hope Baptist Church, where Turner was baptized, licensed and ordained into the ministry.

He also has two older brothers in the ministry, the Rev. James Turner II and the Rev. Charles Turner. In August, 2011 Pastor Turner wed "the love of his life and best friend," the former Bridgett Nicole Bush, a graduate of Fisk University and the University of Tennessee, College of Law. She is a former assistant district attorney in Nassau County, New York and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. The Turners are expecting their first child in January.

Outgoing Senior Pastor Frank Thomas spoke briefly after the announcement about Rev. Turner on Monday evening.

"I will probably say this on December 30th as my final words as your Senior Pastor: 'Now I am turning you over to God. A marvelous God whose gracious work has made you into what God wants you to be. And who gives you everything you could possibly need in this community of holy friends.

"This is to say thank you for allowing me the privilege to serve. I leave this place with joy and thanksgiving and blessings. I love you!'"

A farewell retirement Black Tie Gala for Thomas and his wife, Dr. Joyce Thomas, will be held on Dec. 16 at the Hilton Memphis Hotel.