Vernon AME Church Pastor Robert Turner Leaving Tulsa To Lead Baltimore Church

Rev. Dr. Robert Turner of historic Vernon AME Church in the Greenwood District is now the new pastor of a church in Baltimore. The Alabama native became the pastor of Vernon AME in 2017.

Sunday, October 3rd 2021, 10:59 pm



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Rev. Dr. Robert Turner of historic Vernon AME Church in the Greenwood District is now the new pastor of a church in Baltimore.

The Alabama native became the pastor of Vernon AME in 2017.

Rev. Turner loves to tell people about the church building being the only Black-owned structure left that survived the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

"When I came here, nobody knew about the church's story really, about the basement, about the history of the window, nobody knew about the shape the church is in at all," Rev. Turner said.

Turner told News On 6 under his leadership during the last four years, the church raised more than one million dollars for renovations and doubled the number of members.

He said he is also proud of the church's food ministry, which has served 430,000 hot meals and counting.

"The members of the church worked hard, and while we have accomplished a lot, I wanted them to know how much I appreciated them for coming along with me,” said Rev. Turner.

The 39-year-old is now commuting every weekend to Baltimore for his new job as lead pastor of Empowerment Temple AME, a younger church with thousands of members.

"It was one of the hardest decisions of my professional career in ministry,” Rev. Turner said. “To leave a city that you have poured your life into. I honestly thought at times I was going to die here in Tulsa."

The Turner family will move to Baltimore in December.

Until then, the pastor said he wants to finish the prayer wall of racial healing outside Vernon AME Church, along with other renovations.

He said he also wants to make sure the church is set up for future funding.

Turner said the most important to him is to keep advocating for reparations for descendants of race massacre victims.

He also said he wants to give back, in any way he can, to the community that has made him a better person and pastor.

"I will always think of Tulsa, and she will always be in my heart," said Rev. Turner.

A bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church will appoint the next pastor of Vernon AME.

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