Mention the name James Brown, and worldwide, most people think of the hardworking, legendary now-deceased musician, also known as the Godfather of Soul.
However, in broadcast media circles, the same name belongs to another hardworking Black man with the exact same handle.
On a recent Sunday morning at Bridgeway Community Center in suburban Baltimore, broadcaster James Brown displayed a moniker many people didn’t realize he held: the role of a minister. As the special guest speaker, Brown provided the word during a month-long speaker’s series hosted by Bridgeway’s resident pastor, David Anderson.
During his hour-long sermon, Minister Brown delivered a passionate message reflecting his lifelong commitment to sports and spirituality. Having experienced life as a teenage high school and college basketball star, Brown would later use his court savvy to transition to a career as a network TV football announcer and analyst.
His recent sermon targeted the theme: ‘break the huddle and run the play.’ The football analogy fit perfectly, considering Brown currently hosts ‘Inside the NFL’ on Showtime, in addition to his regularly scheduled play-by-play football broadcasts that have aired on CBS-TV and FOX-TV for the past 30 years. He also hosts CBS News and contributes to ’60 Minutes.’
Blessed with a smooth, engaging personality, the announcer/minister easily encountered the congregation initially with stories about his wife and four young grandchildren. Following his warmup of his audience, Brown evoked his love for the Lord and his knowledge of scripture.
During his sermon, he compared football huddles with attending church services, Sunday School and Bible studies but never taking lessons learned in those forums, and “running the play” or applying what’s learned for good use. He also equated four quarters of football with the Biblical three-scores and 10 life-cycle.
“By age 16, you’ve completed quarter one, at 36, it’s halftime; at 50, it’s third quarter, and anything after 70, well, that’s overtime and ultimately, sudden death,” he said to applause and chuckles.
After enjoying a star-studded career at DC’s legendary DeMatha Catholic High School, Brown matriculated to Harvard where he earned a degree in American Government, in addition to his continued athletic prowess as Harvard’s premier hoopster. When a tryout with the NBA Atlanta Hawks proved fruitless, Brown gathered his Harvard degree and entered corporate America with gigs at Xerox and Eastman Kodak.
Brown regularly attends DC’s Rhema Christian Center and speaks there on occasion. Bridgeway Community Church was founded by senior pastor David Anderson. The church reflects a spirit-filled, multi-culturally diverse congregation.
Dr. Anderson described Minister Brown as “a devout man of God.”
For more information about Bridgeway CC, call 410-992-5832. The Columbia campus is located at 9189 Red Branch Road, Columbia, Md., 20145. For web access, go to bridgeway.cc.