Rev. Rivers says goodbye

Rev. Prince Rainey Rivers hugs a member of the congregation at his goodbye celebration on April 28.

Rev. Rivers says goodbye
May 04
02:40 2017

Photo by Timothy Ramsey



The Rev. Prince Rainey Rivers was ordained at Union Baptist Church in Durham under Rev. Dr. Kenneth Hammond. Twenty-three years later, Rivers has come full circle as he will take over as pastor of Union Baptist after leading the congregation of United Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church for the past 12 years. He says that Hammond was and still is a very good mentor in his life.

Rivers delivered his last sermon at United Metropolitan on April 23 and a special reception was held in his honor on Friday, April 28.  He says he is scheduled to deliver his first sermon at Union Baptist on May 21.

Rivers said that he was offered a position as a youth pastor at Union Baptist straight out of seminary and served in that capacity for a few months before taking his first full-time senior pastor position. After spending some years at a church in Newport News, Virginia, Rivers landed at United Metropolitan.  He says he is ready for the transition to Union Baptist.

He says he did not seek out this new position at Union Baptist.  He says Hammond did not want to stay too long at the church and wanted to have a succession plan once he decided to step down as senior pastor.  After Hammond suggested Rivers’ name to the congregation, a nomination process began and he was asked to consider it. After several months of prayer and discussion, he decided to accept the offer.

“Part of what made the choice difficult on my side was how much I love the people here at United Metropolitan,” Rivers said. “Reverend Hammond’s desire has always been to retire and not stay longer than he needs to stay.  The church is much larger than when he came and he felt that the best way to provide stability, continuity and leadership was for them to do a succession plan.”

There were well over 100 people in attendance at the going away celebration for Rivers.  Everyone had the chance to speak with Rivers and say their final goodbyes to the Rivers family.  The Rev. Yvette Lovett Martin says she understands following God’s guidance to move to a new assignment, as that was what brought her to the city of Winston-Salem herself.

“I understand what ministry entails in that God can send us to different places,” Lovett Martin said.  “He [Rivers] was faithful in service here for 11½ years and we feel like this is God’s doing.  We are certainly happy for him but sad to see him go because once you build relationships and are connected with someone, you’re not so quick to let go.  We are grateful for the time he had here.”

Amid the food and drinks, there was a mixture of happy feelings for the new opportunity for Rivers as well as sad feelings that he is leaving after almost 12 years as senior pastor.

Elwillie Jarrett, a United Metropolitan church member, asaid, “He has meant a lot to this church and he will be missed.  He is a lot like my son and he is very funny.

He is an all-around kind of guy and he will be missed so much but we are happy for this opportunity for him.”

Rivers said the transition to the city of Durham will take some adjusting for his children, Prince Corbitt and Julienne, who at the age of 12 and 7 have only lived in the city of Winston-Salem.  He says one good thing about the move is his wife, Monica Corbitt Rivers, has a sister in Raleigh, so their children will have first cousins in close proximity to play with.

He says he will miss the city of Winston-Salem and the people of his church community.  He says he plans to return because there are many family and friends to visit.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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