The Office of the Chaplain United States House of Representatives

Reverend James Thomas

Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church
Nashville, TN

Sponsor: Rep. Hon. Jim Cooper, (D-TN)
Date of Prayer: 11/05/2003

One Minute Speech Given in Recognition of the Guest Chaplain:

(Mr. COOPER asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. COOPER. Mr. Speaker, the Congress of the United States is honored today to have Pastor James Thomas, the reverend of Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church, to deliver the opening prayer.

Pastor Thomas has been a force for good in the Nashville community since 1964 when he hitchhiked from Texas with $4 in his pocket to attend American Baptist Theological Seminary.

Our colleague, the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Lewis), and many other civil rights leaders were trained at American Baptist.

Reverend Thomas was ordained as a minister of the gospel in 1970 and was called almost immediately in 1971 to lead Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church. There he has established a very powerful symbol for the grace of God on Jefferson Street, a street formerly known for its rock and roll music and blues. The church is now known around the Nation and around the world as a creative force in Christian leadership and community improvement.

Reverend Thomas is one of 13 children raised in Beaumont, Texas; and his love for his native State is still so great that people call him "Tex"; but in Nashville, Tennessee, he is more likely to be called the mayor of Jefferson Street because he has always been a spokesman for the poor and the downtrodden, a spiritual leader for his congregation and the adversities of their daily lives, and a teacher of Governors and Senators and Congressmen and mayors and councilmen, including a Vice President, on what the right thing to do is on civil rights and many other social policy issues.

A small example of Pastor Thomas' work is his prison ministry. I was in his congregation one day when an ex–convict stood up and repaid the money that Pastor Thomas had loaned him, in fact, paid him many times over, thanking the minister for his kindness.

Pastor Thomas is a friend of the friendless. He is an activist who works hard every day to not only improve our lives in this life but to prepare us for the next. He is a man of God who speaks the word of God. And Nashville has been blessed for almost 40 years now to have this fine spiritual example, and we appreciate him every day.

Opening Prayer Given by the Guest Chaplain:

The Reverend James Thomas, Pastor, Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church, Nashville, Tennessee, offered the following prayer :

Our God, who has given this Nation the democratic ideals by which our destiny is fashioned, we thank You, that You have blessed our land to survive the infectious climate of confusion, uncertainty, poverty, war and numerous of other ills; but raising up among us capable leaders from the North, South, East and West, our best who have been elected by us.

We set them before thee. Bless each one, one by one. Give them the shoes for the journey and strength for their feet. Let us never forget the least, the less, and the left out, whose side You are on.

We ask a special prayer for our sons and daughters on the battlefield, whose days are darker than our nights. We pray for the mighty who have fallen. We pray for the hurt of their families and remind them that hurt goes away, but memories will last forever. Humble us as a people to know the high costs of freedom.

Now we ask that You be not just another guest this day, but You be the host. Make us nothing that You may be everything. God bless America. In Your name we pray.

To learn more about Members who have sponsored a Guest Chaplain, please visit the Congressional Biographical Directory