Story and photos by Floyd Alvin Galloway
It was the perfect setting – a beautiful view overlooking Tempe Town Lake as friends and family came to celebrate the 25th pastoral anniversary of Rev. Dr. Benjamin N. Thomas Sr. Held at the Tempe Center for the Arts, on October 8, the stylish event honored the senior pastor of Phoenix’s Historic Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Rev. Thomas has made his mark in the Valley serving on numerous boards and chairing the Arizona Commission on African American Affairs, along with his fulfilling his pastoral duties. Emcee Susan Casper noted the number of boards and commissions Thomas serves on, wondering when he has time to sleep.
Dr. Warren Stewart Sr., senior pastor of First Institutional Baptist Church, a close friend and confidant of Rev. Thomas also noted his commitment to the community, doing God’s work and his commitment to their friendship. Also making remarks where Robert Young of Tanner Community Development Corporation, former state senator Leah Landrum-Taylor, and former Phoenix councilman Michael Johnson.
Adding to the fun and musical entertainment of the evening was The Birdman Band, which not only added to the ambience, but gave some in the audience a chance to be part of the group and showcase their singing talents.
The humble Rev. Thomas noted his appreciation for those who made the evening possible and those in attendance, stating that his family appreciated the love and kindness he and his family have experienced since coming to Tanner years ago.
Noting the rarity of an AME pastor staying in one location for such a long time, he does not take it for granted each year he has been appointed to Tanner by the district bishop.