‘Dynamic’ pastor from Detroit taking over at First Baptist Church in Tarentum
Felicia Brock had no intention of leaving Detroit, where she was born and had lived her entire life.
That changed when she said “God’s spirit’’ led her to Western Pennsylvania to become pastor of First Baptist Church in Tarentum.
She will be officially installed at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. The service will include parishioners and up to 150 of Brock’s friends and family who are coming from Detroit this weekend for her installment. A group is even coming by bus for the ceremony.
“God led me to these people,’’ said Brock, 49. “It’s where God wanted me to be.
“I am looking forward to seeing all my family and friends from Detroit. I miss them. I look forward to them being there and sharing in this with me.’’
Brock has been at the church since September, but her installation Sunday will make the position official.
“The first two months have been going well,’’ Brock said. “The congregation has shown a lot of love toward my family. They are very kind people.’’
Brock replaces Robert Walker, who retired after 31 years in 2017. The church had used some supply pastors until Chet Howell was named interim pastor.
Howell came from Shiloh Baptist Church in Brackenridge, but he didn’t have interest in handling the position full time.
Chris Clune is the deacon chairman at First Baptist Church and led the search committee to replace Walker.
“Chet was up front with us and told us he wasn’t interested full time, but that allowed us to take our time and find the right person,” Clune said. “We did an assessment and surveyed everything at the church to see what direction we wanted to go.
“We didn’t rush it, and we waited on God to find us the right person. We were on God’s time for this one.’’
Clune believes they have found the right person in Brock.
“She is very dynamic,’’ Clune said. “She is extremely personable, well-educated, and we are fortunate and blessed to have her.
“Before she took the position, she wanted to come and see our church. She was full of ideas and things she wanted to do. The vote to hire her was unanimous.’’
Brock was the associate minister at New Calvary Baptist Church in Detroit before taking over the duties at the Tarentum church.
Brock and her husband, Dennis, moved to Harrison on Sept. 15. The couple share four daughters: Dennis’ children Diamond, Kyla and Kasie, who live in Detroit, and Felicia’s daughter, Sashay, who lives in Miami.
Her husband has been commuting back to Detroit to tend to his towing business. He handles towing for the city of Detroit and other entities, but he plans to try to sell the business and move here full time.
Brock also left a business in Detroit. She is a lawyer who had a practice that had two to three lawyers with her.
She closed her law office when she moved, but is still doing some law work in Michigan from her home here.
Brock earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Michigan State University in 1991, a master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology from Detroit Mercy in 1998 and a law degree from Detroit Mercy in 2004.
“The church approved me holding on to the legal work,’’ Brock said. “My goal is to eventually becoming licensed in Pennsylvania and practicing here.’’
Brock was ordained in July 2012 through Progressive National Baptist Convention.
She is adjusting to life in a smaller area, compared with Detroit.
“I’m from the big city and now I am in a small city, and the transition has been different,’’ Brock said. “Now I see people from the congregation everywhere I go. It wasn’t that way in Detroit.”
Brock is eager to move forward with her ministry after Sunday’s installation.
She is known as a teacher who brings messages to the congregation in “bite-sized’’ pieces. Her goal is to deliver “messages that teach.’’
“These are a caring people who work inside the church and outside the church spreading their ministry,’’ Brock said. “Nobody knows about all their great work.
“I want to get the word out there and show people what they do. I can’t wait to jump on board and be a part of it.’’
Kevin Smith is a contributing writer.