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Rev. Floyd Massey Jr., 88; Longtime Pastor, Leader in Baptist Organizations

November 03, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

Rev. Floyd Massey Jr., pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in Watts from 1965 to 1987 and leader in both the black National Baptist Convention USA Inc. and the predominantly white American Baptist Churches USA, has died.

He was 88.

Massey died Tuesday of natural causes at the Atherton Baptist Home, an assisted-living center in Los Angeles, said his son, Floyd Massey III.

The veteran minister was the co-author, along with Seattle Rev. Samuel B. McKinney, of the 1976 book "Church Administration in the Black Perspective." The book outlined the need for strong, charismatic ministers in urban black churches and remains an important reference work in church organization.

Massey, pastor of the St. Paul, Minn., Pilgrim Baptist Church for 21 years before coming to the Watts church for a 22-year tenure, wrote: "The long pastorate is the natural outgrowth of the father-figure image rooted in Africa and the Bible. The lack of the male presence in many homes added to the expectation that the minister be a father to the fatherless."

The church leader was active in the NAACP and with the Martin Luther King International Board of Preachers of Morehouse College.

Born in Rock Hill, S.C., Massey grew up in Gastonia, N.C., and earned a bachelor's degree from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C., in 1936. He spent that Depression summer cleaning the white First Baptist Church of Gastonia because, he said, "I could earn more as a janitor than I could as a teacher."

After gaining recognition in both black and white Baptist national organizations, he was invited to address the Gastonia congregation as guest speaker in 1972 -- drawing 200 invited black worshipers and 1,300 white members, filling the church to capacity.

Massey taught American history, sociology and economics at Booker T. Washington High School in Columbia, S.C., from 1936 to 1941, and then earned his master's degree and doctorate in divinity at Colgate Rochester Divinity School in Rochester, N.Y.

During his tenure at the Pilgrim Baptist Church in St. Paul, Minn., from 1944 to 1965, Massey increased membership from 125 to more than 1,000.

Massey is survived by his wife of more than 59 years, Ethel; two sons, Floyd and Ronald Bruce Massey, and four grandchildren.

Funeral services are scheduled at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Second Baptist Church of Los Angeles, 2412 Griffith Ave. Macedonia Baptist Church pastor Robert L. Mason will deliver the eulogy.

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