African American Icon: Reverend Dr. R. B. Holmes, Jr.

Reverend Dr. R. B. Holmes
Posted at 10:06 PM, Feb 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-17 13:46:49-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - On any given Sunday, you can expect to see 1,500 people fill the sanctuary of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church (MBC) in downtown Tallahassee. The church is 144 years old and started right after reconstruction to provide hope and light to the community.

Delivering the sermon every Sunday at Bethel for the past 28 years is Reverend Dr. R. B. Holmes, Junior, the church's lead pastor.

"It's a commitment, it's not a career, it's a calling," says Rev. Dr. Holmes. "You have a commitment to help people, you have a commitment to rebuild communities, you have a commitment to tell people, 'you can make it'."

Dr. Holmes says he is driven by vision and motivated by his family.

According to Rev. Dr. Holmes, "I was blessed to have outstanding parents and grandparents. My parents and grandparents told us that we are somebody and that we can achieve, we can make a difference, and then always give back to people. Be honest, be responsible, have integrity, and if you say you're going to do something, do it."

Both Bethel and Reverend Dr. Holmes believe in a strong commitment to civil rights, economic development, education and empowerment.

"Therefore, we've taken the urban community in downtown Tallahassee, and by the grace of God, transformed it, by building a home for senior citizens, having two schools, a mental health clinic and the developed Carolina Oaks, 51 homes for first time homeowners," said Rev. Dr. Holmes.

And Rev. Dr. Holmes' vision for saving Frenchtown doesn't stop there. He has lofty goals for the next few years.

Rev. Dr. Holmes says, "Come 2020, we'd like to have a grocery store in the community. We'd like to build a home for veterans. We'd like to build student housing, and bring a financial institution in the Frenchtown neighborhood. It's those things that keep you moving, keep you motivated, keep you excited about life."

So why does he do it? And what does he hope is his legacy?

"I don't think that much about legacy," Rev. Dr. Holmes says with a smile. "What I do think about, R. B. Holmes Jr., are you really making a difference? Have you changed lives? Are you going to be able to give folks hope? Have you been able to talk about the importance of family? Are you able to tell folks that if you've fallen, you can get back up. That you never give up, never quit."

Which is why every Sunday, you can see Reverend Dr. R. B. Holmes standing in front of the congregation, renewing the spirit of the church's members, as well as the entire Frenchtown community.