Longtime Fort Worth minister praised as 'simply the best'

Posted Friday, Mar. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH -- The Rev. B.R. Daniels Sr. says some of the brightest moments in his 40 years as a minister came when he witnessed breakthroughs in racial equality.

The election of Barack Obama as America's first black president, he said, "broke down barriers that should have been broken down years ago."

"I don't agree with President Obama on everything," said Daniels, who is celebrating his 40th anniversary as pastor of Beth Eden Missionary Baptist Church. "I don't agree at all on same-sex marriage."

But he's convinced that Obama's election and re-election were pivotal moments in the history of race relations in the United States.

"I think it shows a receding of racial divides and racial tensions," he said. "I was deeply moved by the election because none of us felt like we would see that in our lifetime."

Daniels' ministry has included marching on the streets of Fort Worth to protest a sentence of probation given to one of three white supremacists convicted in the 1991 fatal drive-by shooting of Donald Thomas, a 34-year-old black man, in Arlington.

"Our church helped organize the march of more than 10,000 people," he said.

The man given probation, Christopher William Brosky, was later tried on a conspiracy charge and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

He was released in 2009 and deported to his native Canada.

Thomas' widow, Carolyn Thomas, is a former member of Beth Eden.

Daniels was present when Gov. Ann Richards signed a hate crimes bill that was partly motivated by the Arlington shooting.

His church, at 3208 Wilbarger St. in southeast Fort Worth, also has a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program and a food and clothing ministry and helps the unemployed find jobs.

Honored for his work

During the last month, friends have honored Daniels, 67, and his wife, Pamela, on his four decades as pastor of Beth Eden. Ministers he mentored, known as his "sons" in the ministry, have been guest preachers.

State and national leaders honored Daniels with resolutions and letters commending his work in local, state and national organizations. Last Sunday, a spokesman read a Texas Senate resolution sponsored by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, citing Daniels' community service.

Daniels also holds major leadership roles in state and national church conventions.

For 15 years, he was moderator of the National Baptist Convention USA, northwestern section, which includes Dallas-Fort Worth. He is president at large of the Baptist Missionary and Educational State Convention of Texas.

He is also a former chairman of the Fort Worth Planning and Zoning Commission. One congratulatory letter came from Mayor Betsy Price.

'A pastor of pastors'

During last Sunday's celebration, the Rev. Stanley T. Hillard of Houston, formerly a Beth Eden member, praised Daniels as "a pastor of pastors." Hillard leads the 1,000-member St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church.

A busload from the Houston church attended the celebration.

"Stan likes to say, 'I'm his favorite son in the ministry,'" Daniels said. "But if I had a favorite, it would be my own son."

His son, the Rev. B.R. Daniels Jr., is pastor of the First Greater New Hope Baptist Church in Fort Worth.

When Daniels Sr. became pastor of Beth Eden, he received a salary of $25 a week. Mary Newton was one of several longtime members who recalled giving Daniels 25 $1 bills in a frame with a cross.

The church had only 37 members when he took over in 1973 but now has more than 1,500.

"He's everything you can want in a God man," Newton said. "He's a counselor, a teacher, a preacher, a leader. He's simply the best, one of a kind."

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