My good friend Dr. David Crosby is celebrating 20 years as pastor of the First Baptist Church of New Orleans. Today, June 5, the church devoted the morning service to this, followed by a luncheon and a program consisting of a “roast,” with 6 speakers, of whom I was one.
What follows is my roast, with an explanation or two in italics along the way, followed by my “toast.”
“I’m honored today to stand before you to say a few words about a great American, a man beloved in New Orleans and elsewhere. A man of great popularity who is held in high esteem. He is a success any way you cut it. A man of movie star looks, with a beautiful wife.
“But–enough about Donald Trump. Let’s talk about David Crosby.
“David, you and I were both born on March 28. Thirteen years apart. No one looking at you today would ever believe you are that many years older than me. Janet is clearly taking good care of you.”
“In June of 1996, when you first arrived in New Orleans, I was pastoring the First Baptist Church of Kenner, and had just had surgery. Since the doctor ordered me to rest up for three weeks, I was able to hear your first three sermons–the first two on live TV and the third in person. I will never forget the subjects of your sermons.”
“Honestly, had the deacons really been paying attention to what you preached, I doubt you would have lasted 20 weeks, let alone 20 years.
“The first Sunday, your sermon was ‘DON’T BE INTIMIDATED BY MY ELOQUENCE AND GOOD LOOKS; I’M REALLY VERY HUMBLE.’
“The second Sunday, your sermon was MY PLAN TO ABOLISH MARDI GRAS ALTOGETHER.”
‘The third Sunday, your sermon was ‘GOD HAS TOLD ME TO RELOCATE THIS CHURCH FROM ST. CHARLES AVENUE TO THE CEMETERIES.”
In a few days, Dr. Fred Luter plans to nominate David as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Normally, he might plan to tell of David’s record. I suggest he reconsider that. After all…
–During seminary, David worked for the Times-Picayune, a newspaper that is basically belly-up today.
–David came to New Orleans to pastor a church on St. Charles Avenue that is now owned by the Catholics.
–And he went from there to a church surrounded on three sides by cemeteries.
Now, I’m not saying this church is in trouble, but…
–the deacons are checking the statute of limitations on some of David’s old sermons.
–the finance committee is considering taking out a reverse mortgage on the church property.
I overheard some members discussing how old David is. One said, “I don’t know, but I understand that when David was born, ‘WINN DIXIE’ was a Confederate battle cry.”
I recall when David had his first book published. He attended his first associational meeting in years, hoping to get a chance to promote the book. Since the agenda was full, there was no time for him on the program. Finally, they called on him for the benediction. I’ll never forget his prayer:
“O LORD, THOU WHO HAS ALSO WRITTEN A BOOK….”
Everyone is fascinated to learn David is one of 13 children. Some of them we know very well: BING, BOB, NORM, GARY, and of course the (ahem) black sheep of the family, BILL CROSBY .
In their younger years, the boys all sang together and made a number of records. We all miss Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Those guys were good!
(It is true David is the second oldest of 13 children. In their youth, the boys formed a singing group and made a number of records as the Crosby Brothers.)
In a few days, David will be nominated by Dr. Fred Luter as a candidate for the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Most people do not know that David and Fred talked about doing this some eleven or twelve years ago. We have come across their exchange of emails on this subject. Actually, the Justice Department found them along with some missing emails Hillary Clinton sent as Secretary of State.
FRED LUTER: “David, I might be willing to nominate you. But in the time-honored tradition of New Orleans politicians through the years, what’s in it for me?”
DAVID CROSBY: “I’ve given that a lot of thought, and can offer you three things….
–money. One of my deacons owns his own bank. If you need money, I can put you in touch with my Guy. (Deacon Guy Williams is president of Gulf Coast Bank.)
–second, if you should ever decide to run for president of the convention yourself, Fred, since I’m from the Texas hill country, I can deliver the redneck vote for you.
–and third, if New Orleans should ever experience a natural disaster–volcano, tornado, hurricane, flood, etc.–and Franklin Avenue Church is ruined, you could meet with our church, at some convenient hour…like 5:30 a.m.
“How does that sound?”
FRED LUTER: “Not very convincing, actually. As for money, since I’m the major stockholder in the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church Corporation, I’m pretty well fixed for life.
“As for me running for president of the SBC, I think we both know how unlikely that is. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, David, but I’m African-American. Best I can count, there are precisely 63 of us in the SBC. The day I’m elected president of the SBC, a Black man will be in the White House. ha. ha.
“And, about some natural disaster befalling New Orleans, my friend, this city is nearly 300 years old. Nothing has happened to it during all that time. So, I think we can assume it’s safe. You’ll have to do better than these enticements.
DAVID CROSBY: “Let me pray about it and I’ll get back to you.”
(And that’s where the emails stop.)
(The Justice Department continues to investigate.)
BUT SERIOUSLY FOLKS…
David Crosby is the gold standard for friend, brother, fellow minister.
When I’m gone, my tombstone will say I was David’s friend. It’s certainly one of the more significant relationships of my life.
In 2004, David nominated me to become director of missions for the New Orleans Baptist Association. I’ve mostly forgiven him for that.
Late in 2004, Mayor Ray Nagin invited the ministers to a breakfast in the famous Blue Room of the Fairmont (Roosevelt) Hotel to talk about a community initiative he was creating to deal with the crime problem. At one point, he said, “The key to breaking the cycle of poverty for families is home ownership.” A half hour later as we were leaving, David said, “Joe, we need to help some poor people get into houses of their own.” The rest of us had heard the same thing, but David received it as a call from the Lord and went into action. Baptist Crossroads has made a life-changing difference for scores of families in New Orleans.
A year later, after Katrina had flooded our city and most of us were evacuated for weeks, David and I were on the phone, he from Monroe, LA and I from our family farm in north Alabama. At one point he said, “Joe, we need to get our pastors together.” And we did. That was the beginning of our weekly 3-hour meeting of pastors. Sometimes we had 90 or more, including denominational workers and leaders from all over the country. We met weekly for several years. Many have said that pastors gathering was the most important single thing to help them with the recovery. It was David’s idea.
David Crosby. One of a kind. The gold standard for friend, brother, pastor.
Hebrews 6:10 has your name all over it, friend. “God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love that you have shown toward His name, in having ministered to the saints, and in still ministering.”