ORANGEBURG—The Rev. Rudy Rasmus—pastor, author and global humanitarian with a passion for outreach to the world’s poorest citizens—will keynote this year’s installment of the Eben Taylor Memorial Lecture Series, set for Oct. 21-22.
The annual lecture series honors the life and work of the late Rev. Eben Taylor, who served as a United Methodist pastor for many years across South Carolina. Taylor is most known for his courage and love through times of racial friction. He believed everybody deserves justice and mercy—a passion that drove him through his entire ministry.
This year’s lectures will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at Edisto Fork United Methodist Church, Orangeburg, and at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 22, at Claflin University.
With his wife, Juanita, Rasmus co-pastors St. John’s UMC, Houston, which grew from nine members in 1992 to more than 9,000 members today. He often says his primary spiritual gift is “hanging out.”
St. John’s is said to be one of the most culturally diverse congregations in the country where every week people of every social and economic background and ethnicity share the same pew; 30 percent of his parishioners were formerly homeless. He attributes the success of the church to a compassionate group of people who have embraced the vision of tearing down the walls of classism, sexism and racism and building bridges of unconditional love, universal recovery and unprecedented hope. A recent in-house poll revealed the number one reason people attend St. John’s is because they can “feel the love” from the parking lot to the pew.
For three years, Rasmus was a monthly contributor to Oprah Winfrey’s “O Magazine” ethics column titled “Now What Do I Do” and is currently a featured faith-blogger in the Houston Chronicle’s online edition. He is a 2008 gospel music industry Stellar Award nominee for the music project “Touch” and the author of two books, including the newly released “Jesus Insurgency” with Dottie Escobedo-Frank and “Touch: Pressing Against the Wounds of a Broken World.” He can be heard weekly on his show “The Love Revolution with Pastor Rudy” on SiriusXm’s Praise Channel.
Rasmus founded the Bread of Life Inc. (a nonprofit) with wife Juanita in December 1992 and began serving dinners to the homeless in the sanctuary at St. John’s. Years later the Bread of Life has changed the landscape of Downtown Houston providing an array of services to homeless men and women seven nights a week in the Bread of Life facility on the St. John’s campus. The project provides more than 12,000 hot meals each month to the homeless men and women, distributes more than 9 tons of fresh food weekly to hungry families and provides shelter to more than 100 homeless individuals every night from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. in a pioneering “housing-first” initiative called “After Dark” where services are provided during the critical night-time hours.
St. John’s is also one of few faith communities in the U.S. providing HIV/AIDS testing to churchgoers on Sundays through the innovative “Get Tested Project.” Also, thanks to donations from longtime friends and church members Beyonce Knowles, Tina Knowles, Mathew Knowles and Kelly Rowland, the campus includes the $1.2 million Knowles-Rowland Center for Youth and the $6 million Knowles-Temenos Place Apartments. The Temenos project is a 43-unit Single Room Occupancy development designed to provide permanent living accommodations for formerly homeless women and men. Temenos CDC is currently developing a $9 million, 80-unit apartment community to meet the growing need for permanent supportive housing for the previously homeless in Houston.
Rasmus received the Jefferson Award (considered the Nobel Prize of community service) in 2009.
The Eben Taylor Lecture Series is free. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.