New pastor to be installed

Published 8:45 pm Thursday, April 19, 2018

Rising St. James Pentecostal Holiness Church will be installing its new pastor, Suffolk native the Rev. Robert Wilkins, at its service on Sunday.

Wilkins got his start in ministry 15 years ago at Rising St. James. At his home church, he was licensed to be a pastor.

“Not long after, I branched out and sought pastoring under someone else,” Wilkins said. “In 2005, I went to New Calvary Baptist Church and stayed there for five years until God led me to start my own ministry.”

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Wilkins started R.A.W. Ministries Christian Fellowship, but after six or seven years of running R.A.W. Ministries, his plans took a different turn.

“God spoke to me about consolidating, and I didn’t grasp the full understanding at first,” Wilkins. “I began to seek that vision not knowing where to merge ministries or seek out help.”

The word led Wilkins back to his home church, but the leadership was apprehensive about the idea because of his past.

Wilkins spent six years incarcerated, but during that time in prison Wilkins developed a more intimate relationship with God and ministry. Wilkins also uses his time in prison as a way to show his parishioners that they can bounce back.

“I have experienced the other side of life, and for me I know what recovery feels like. It gives me a sense of fulfillment to be a model to them,” Wilkins said. “My incarceration was a consecration to good, and the right people were in my path.”

Wilkins approached the ministry again, and he is happy to be merging R.A.W. Ministries and Rising St. James on Sunday.

“It’s good to be home and continue the vision and the ministry founded by Bishop James E. Copeland,” Wilkins said. “I had the privilege of his great leadership, and it is great to know I am walking in the same path as him.”

While Wilkins is involved in ministry, he also has a day job.

Wilkins works for the city of Suffolk as a traffic engineer, and he has done that for the last 11 years. He is a paint operator, and Wilkins enjoys his job.

“I assist people to stay in their lane,” Wilkins said with a laugh. “It is good, and work is good.”

Working two jobs is never easy, and it doesn’t get easier when one of the jobs is very tedious.

“The work is tedious, and the demands of my parishioners are so diverse,” Wilkins said. “We have to give assistance, study and prep.”

Wilkins is ready to take the next step with merging the two ministries and operating under the same roof.

“I’ve come full circle,” Wilkins said.