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Pilgrim Progressive Baptist Church: sojourning through this world

Pastor went from bodily to spiritual ministry

Donnell Townsend
Donnell Townsend

Pilgrim Progressive Baptist Church

Contact: 4995 A St., San Diego, 619-264-3369, [email protected]

Membership: 500 (attendance: 200-300)

Pastor: Donnell Townsend

Age: 63

Born: Tupelo, MS

Formation: U.S. Navy, Corpsman; Anderson University, Anderson, IN

Years Ordained: 19 

San Diego Reader: Why did you become a minister?

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Pastor Donnell Townsend: I was a hospital corpsman with the U.S. Navy for 20 years and got out and worked in nursing services. I saw the medical profession was another way to minister. Then when I spent a year in Iraq with the U.S. Marines, God called me to a different purpose; it’s still a kind of nursing, but it’s a spiritual ministering instead of physical. I love people and to be used by God as a vessel and speak about God in these times.

SDR: What’s the mission of your church?

PT: Our mission is that we are a loving church, preaching, teaching, and reaching outside the walls. Our name also speaks to our mission. Many people think of this world as permanent, but really, we’re pilgrims passing through. But we’re also progressive in our journey. We’re not trying to be like the world, but as pilgrims, we’re sojourning through this world, progressing to be better and more like Christ. Then we’ll be able to see our Father face to face. Scripture says, in Philippians 2:5, “In your relationship with one another, let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”

SDR: What one book has had the greatest influence on your ministry?

PT: Tony Evans’s Kingdom Man, which talks about men and fathers taking their rightful role in the family. When we don’t—well, when Adam didn’t take his rightful role in facing Satan, it led to the fall of man. That book made sure I was secure in my life with God as a husband, father, and man in my own community, so people who are lost can use me as a compass. My wife, First Lady Shiela, and I have been married 36 years, and we have one daughter. We met before I became a pastor. My wife is a helpmate, as the Bible says, and she’s been a blessing not only in my personal life, but also in this life of ministry. I don’t know where I’d be without her. In fact, I came to Pilgrim Progressive trying to get a date with her. She invited me to church in 1986 and I’ve been at the church since.

Place

Pilgrim Progressive Baptist Church

4995 A Street, San Diego


SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PT: I believe what the Bible says: there is a heaven and a hell. That’s why I talk about our progressing; we believe what Jesus said in John 14: “I go to prepare a place for you and if I go, I will come back again.” We teach that Jesus will come back and receive us, as 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 says. It is God’s wish that no one perishes; we don’t want anyone to go to hell, but hell is real. The opposite of heaven is hell, and the opposite of up is down. My job as a pastor is to preach that hell is real, but the worst person can embrace Christ and change his life. If we live for Christ through the Bible, we are guaranteed to go to heaven. To go to hell, one is living not through the Bible. We believe and teach that faith. I don’t want to put anyone in hell, but those who are not living as God wants us to live will go there.

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Donnell Townsend
Donnell Townsend

Pilgrim Progressive Baptist Church

Contact: 4995 A St., San Diego, 619-264-3369, [email protected]

Membership: 500 (attendance: 200-300)

Pastor: Donnell Townsend

Age: 63

Born: Tupelo, MS

Formation: U.S. Navy, Corpsman; Anderson University, Anderson, IN

Years Ordained: 19 

San Diego Reader: Why did you become a minister?

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Sponsored

Pastor Donnell Townsend: I was a hospital corpsman with the U.S. Navy for 20 years and got out and worked in nursing services. I saw the medical profession was another way to minister. Then when I spent a year in Iraq with the U.S. Marines, God called me to a different purpose; it’s still a kind of nursing, but it’s a spiritual ministering instead of physical. I love people and to be used by God as a vessel and speak about God in these times.

SDR: What’s the mission of your church?

PT: Our mission is that we are a loving church, preaching, teaching, and reaching outside the walls. Our name also speaks to our mission. Many people think of this world as permanent, but really, we’re pilgrims passing through. But we’re also progressive in our journey. We’re not trying to be like the world, but as pilgrims, we’re sojourning through this world, progressing to be better and more like Christ. Then we’ll be able to see our Father face to face. Scripture says, in Philippians 2:5, “In your relationship with one another, let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”

SDR: What one book has had the greatest influence on your ministry?

PT: Tony Evans’s Kingdom Man, which talks about men and fathers taking their rightful role in the family. When we don’t—well, when Adam didn’t take his rightful role in facing Satan, it led to the fall of man. That book made sure I was secure in my life with God as a husband, father, and man in my own community, so people who are lost can use me as a compass. My wife, First Lady Shiela, and I have been married 36 years, and we have one daughter. We met before I became a pastor. My wife is a helpmate, as the Bible says, and she’s been a blessing not only in my personal life, but also in this life of ministry. I don’t know where I’d be without her. In fact, I came to Pilgrim Progressive trying to get a date with her. She invited me to church in 1986 and I’ve been at the church since.

Place

Pilgrim Progressive Baptist Church

4995 A Street, San Diego


SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PT: I believe what the Bible says: there is a heaven and a hell. That’s why I talk about our progressing; we believe what Jesus said in John 14: “I go to prepare a place for you and if I go, I will come back again.” We teach that Jesus will come back and receive us, as 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 says. It is God’s wish that no one perishes; we don’t want anyone to go to hell, but hell is real. The opposite of heaven is hell, and the opposite of up is down. My job as a pastor is to preach that hell is real, but the worst person can embrace Christ and change his life. If we live for Christ through the Bible, we are guaranteed to go to heaven. To go to hell, one is living not through the Bible. We believe and teach that faith. I don’t want to put anyone in hell, but those who are not living as God wants us to live will go there.

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