The rapidly growing Sanctuary Covenant Church at 710 W. Broadway Ave. in Minneapolis has a new senior pastor, the Rev. Edrin Williams.
The origins of Williams’ journey to Christ started in his early youth. Williams, who grew up in a small city outside of Charleston, S.C., was raised by a family that made their Christian faith and attending church a priority. At the church his family went to, Williams sang, ushered and was very involved with church activities. He also had a strong relationship with Christ at an early age and was even baptized around the age of 11.
His strong religious foundation followed him through his early adulthood when he left to attend the University of South Carolina. Williams recalled attempting to stray away from his beliefs but after attending a local church with his dormitory residential assistant, his salvation only intensified.
“It was for me like a turning point,” Williams said. “It really grabbed a hold of my faith again and (I) really started going back to church.”
Williams eventually finished his tenure at the University of South Carolina and then went to Bethel University (Minnesota) to pursue Biblical and Theological Studies. He became a children and youth pastor at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church and was the director of Youth and Family Ministries and the associate pastor at Sanctuary before being named senior pastor.
Sanctuary recently held an event-filled “Installation Weekend” that celebrated and welcomed his official start as senior pastor. Williams is now the third senior pastor at Sanctuary as he succeeds the founding pastor, The Rev. Dr. Efrem Smith and second senior pastor, The Rev. Dr. Dennis Edwards.
“We’ve had two incredible senior pastors. Our founding pastor, Dr. Efrem Smith, was a super dynamic leader. When the church started it grew really, really fast and I think a huge part of it was Efrem’s ministry,” said Williams. “Dr. Dennis Edwards was an incredible scholar. He might be a genius or something, he’s just incredibly smart. He helped our church to fall in love with God’s word. I get to follow after them, that’s an incredible privilege.”
Sanctuary, in its 16th year, strives to be an urban, multi-ethnic space to reconcile people and grow in their faith. In addition to church services, Williams is zeroing in on community service. The South Carolina native has cultivated a love for North Minneapolis and with the church being in the epicenter of the neighborhood, Williams is making giving back his obligation.
“I feel like we’re at the crossroads of the community,” he said. “We are in a very special place where we can be known by the community and actually serve the community.
We’re working hard to be not just a place that worships together on Sunday and just some classes throughout the week but we’re trying to be out in the community every day.”
For the rest of the summer and this upcoming fall, Williams plans to have Sanctuary members assisting at events and spearheading multiple initiatives. The church hosted the main stage at FLOW Northside Arts Crawl and plans on doing various back-to-school giveaways. Additionally, Williams, along with church staff, can be seen outside the church getting to know the locals in the area and assisting with needs for the homeless.
“Even if they never show up for a Sunday service, I feel like I’m a pastor to them. I’m going to serve them and do everything I can to make sure they are protected and cared for. I feel like that is what it means for us to be a church,” said the pastor.
Though he is new in his senior pastor role, he said he is already looking to harvest the next leader for Sanctuary.
“I believe the next pastor of Sanctuary is already here,” Williams said. “It’s probably someone who is young and probably not even thinking about ministry right now. I get to help develop and shape them.”
Sanctuary Covenant Church Sunday worship services are at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.