Bishop Jeffery Williams: ‘I preach better is coming eventually’ – The Boston Globe


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Before the pandemic, The King’s Cathedral saw 300 to 400 parishioners on Sundays, and held regular workshops and Bible programs. Although most restrictions have long since been lifted on houses of worship, Williams isn’t taking chances with his flock until there are mass vaccinations. They meet virtually, online, to avoid a communion that could be fatal.All of the church elders have contracted COVID-19, one seriously enough to be hospitalized for weeks. None of the parishioners have died, but Williams knows families have lost loved ones. Everyone has suffered, in one way or another, during this difficult year.There is history in Black churches as safe places for congregants, going back to the days of slavery, when worship was the only respite from backbreaking work, and later, when Blacks were banned from white churches.With a virus stalking the world, and especially hurting people of color, 58-year-old Williams, the founder of this predominantly Black church in Providence, prays to help people find the courage to keep going.“I won’t give up!” Williams exhorts, urging the viewers to say it out loud with him or write it in the comments section. “Despite the pandemic, despite the circumstances, despite the naysayers and the haters, and the ignorant people, and the reports that you heard that were evil reports -- you have to say, ‘I won’t give up!’”In the comments on Facebook, people respond: “I got this in my spirit!”“Better is coming!!!!”“HALLELUJAH”Even before the pandemic, Williams had been designing a “virtual church,” with online services, to reach more people wherever they are. As the coronavirus drags on, Williams is moving more of the church’s work online, setting up advising on-demand and, soon, a 24-hour prayer line that people can call anytime and have someone pray with them.“It’s another way to touch people the best you can in the COVID environment. Some people just want to talk,” Williams said. “If it’s a true gospel, it’s going to put its arms around anybody, anywhere.”Still, he said, “it is very, very difficult for me and other staff members, because the strength of the cathedral is in its relationships.”So, Williams said, he keeps giving the same messages each week. Wear your masks. Get the vaccine. Have faith.(This interview has been edited and condensed.)I preach hope. I preach better is coming eventually. I do believe that. I don’t believe it’s the end of the world. I believe and preach if anything, it’s time to reset your life in new ways, to pivot versus panic, and adjust to a new normal that may be permanent.If you look at statistics, and what’s around you, you may not see a lot of hope. But a person of faith chooses faith over fear.I believe and teach and experience and demonstrate that Jesus still heals people. There are times I want to give up, but there is something inside that won’t let me give up hope.It goes back to the title of the book I wrote, “Knowing Your Why.” It’s recognizing that people are counting on me, but knowing that quitting is not an option here, because others will follow suit.If you quit, they’ll quit. If you give up, they’ll give up. It’s much better to believe and exude a better day is coming, rather than better days are behind me.A number of years ago, I went through a difficult time, and that’s when I wrote my book. I had to find a reason outside of myself to get up every morning. That reason was my two daughters. I had to show them there’s a way back from setbacks. I could say that, but they needed to witness it, and that relates to the pandemic. I’m going to cry, but I’m going to keep moving.Sometimes you have to keep moving, even if you’re not sure where you’re going. There’s a miracle that comes when you create momentum.Amanda Milkovits can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMilkovits.
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