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New pastor has many years of devoted service

Members of Independent Church of God in Christ New Jerusalem Revival Center will welcome a new pastor during an installation service at 5 p.m. today in the church at 2723 20th St.

The new pastor, the Rev. Sammie L. Rankin, is new to the post but definitely not new to the congregation.

And leaders here say he is well suited for the job.

Sam Robinson Jr., member of the church's general assembly, said, "We're looking forward to him being installed . . . He's proven himself to be faithful."

Rankin, who was formerly the church's assistant pastor, served in that capacity for 30 years but has been a member of the church for 45 years.

When the Rev. Euriah Colvin, 79, resigned a few weeks ago after 50 years on the job, Colvin chose Rankin as the church's leader.

"I've been pastor for 50 years about, so it was time for me to pass it on to my assistant, and he took it over," Colvin said. "He'll do a good job."

The service is open to the public, and members will serve coffee and cookies afterward.

The congregation, which has been in existence for 51 years, boasts 150 members.

The guest speaker, the Rev. William Henderson of Buffalo, agreed that Rankin is a good choice to lead this body. "Bishop Rankin is one that has followed the path of the Lord."

"The leader is there constantly with the people so he knows the needs," Henderson said. "He's able to go into that and do something positive in the lives of those people to bring them to the goal."

Henderson is bishop of the Light of the World Missions, serving at El-Bethel, Buffalo.

The 75-year-old Rankin, speaking recently from just outside Jackson, Miss., said he is looking forward to taking over the church's reins.

"It's a great honor and also a great responsibility," Rankin said.

The new church leader said he hopes to grow his fold. Rankin compared bringing new members into the church to scattering seeds to attract birds.

"I expect to improve the outreach of the church . . . If you want people to come, all you have to do is feed them."

According to the church's Web site, New Jerusalem Revival Center Church is a part of the Independent Church of God in Christ denomination, fo rmed several years ago by Colvin, and has spread to include more than eight churches around the United States.

Colvin said previously that he helped to establish the church in 1957 in a storefront at 10th Street and Fairfield Avenue, with 12 members.

A native of Alabama, he said he will continue to help in his church and is not retiring fully.

Colvin's achievements here include establishing programs to feed the hungry, helping addicts become healthy again, educating the public about AIDS and giving children a place to go during the summertime.

e-mail: pkowalik@buffnews.com

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