After 52 years of extraordinary service to the New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church, the Rev. Damon Lynch Jr. is retiring as senior pastor. The church has elected the Rev. Joel McCauley Jr. as his predecessor.
The Rev. McCauley, when describing the Rev. Lynch, shared in his short time with him that he has learned he is a man of high principles and ethics. Lynch told him while it appears to be a simple command, it has a lasting impact, “Trust God and put God first.”
“We are honored and excited to introduce Rev. Joel McCauley Jr. to the Cincinnati Community as the 11th pastor of New Jerusalem Baptist Church,” said church officials.
McCauley began his ministry as an associate pastor at Greenforest Missionary Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia, and then at Poplar Springs Christian Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He has been associate pastor at New Jerusalem since 2019. He is also an experienced college professor, educational consultant and human resources professional.
McCauley comes to Cincinnati via Morehouse School of Religion in Atlanta. Earlier this year, the search committee was delighted to invite him to serve as New Jerusalem’s senior pastor. He describes himself as a child of God, husband, lover of people, lover of the Gospel, minister of the Gospel, a son and brother.
In 2009 God “started pricking his spirit,” he said. Initially confused, he “really” prayed about it and was rededicated. He said God spoke with him telling him he needed more from him. While alone with his thoughts, he said he asked God, “Am I called to be a minster?” By asking that specific question he immediately felt the thorn in his side erased and the heaviness in his spirit lifted, he said.
God provided him with his answer. While his great grandfather was a country preacher, he did not come from a lineage of preachers. When he finally decided to preach the Word, his father, Joel McCauley Sr. was excited for him. His mother then suggested he go to seminary.
After graduating from seminary he returned to Raleigh NC from Atlanta, where he met Dr. Lolita Forrest, a transplant from Cleveland, Ohio. He told her he was an associate minister and on their second date told her something is going to happen, although he was not sure exactly what, but it was something to do with a church. Lolita was not frightened off by his calling and after a loving courtship they married.
“Dr. Lolita McCauley was highly sought out, with multiple job offers. She was offered and accepted a position, and now we are extremely blessed that Cincinnati, Ohio, was the chosen destination,” he said.
Rev. Joel, as he is affectionately called, said he was not really excited to move to the Midwest, however his love and support of his wife was enough to convince him to believe what is good for her is good for both of them.
Rev. Joel said he believes it was God’s plan for his arrival at New Jerusalem. His sister Dr. Krystin McCauley Watkins did a search on African American Baptist churches in Cincinnati. Her search landed her on a picture of Rev. Damon Lynch Jr. She told her brother to go to this church, “as he looks like a right nice man.” They visited with their family and decided to make New Jerusalem their church home. He informed Rev. Lynch he was a minister and was looking for a way to serve. He remembers vividly, Rev. Lynch telling him, “If ministers don’t go to work, they will rust.”
He was unaware New Jerusalem was in the middle of a pastoral search and began to entrench himself into the associate ministry, Bible study and looking to Reverend Lynch as a mentor. He said he has been honored to serve under Reverend Lynch, and to learn of his impact in the Cincinnati community. He observed how Rev. Lynch leads and lives his life, and understands why Rev. Lynch has been in the “top spot” for 52 years without a hint of impropriety.
Rev. McCauley said he believes it was God’s will for him to be elected to serve as the next pastor for New Jerusalem. He was asked to submit an application of interest for the position by a deacon; his wife was given a wonderful job opportunity that resulted in them relocating to Cincinnati; and his sister’s research led him to New Jerusalem. He describes it as “serendipitous.”
When asked what his vision for New Jerusalem is, he shared the acronym of ACT:
- Accountability for him as a leader.
– Accountability for New Jerusalem’s role as a leader in the community.
- Connect, develop, and strengthen relationships with others in the faith community. Connect to our city, other organizations and government. The faith community and government are both called to serve the people. We should act as a united front to people of Cincinnati and beyond.
- Transform – as true Christians, we should experience true change in our lives and community
He said he believes the church was commissioned by God to meet the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of the community, which is exactly what he plans to do.
“We need to standup for people who have been wronged. We need to lean in, as the church is the center of the community. A successful church keeps Christ first and is built on the Power of the Word. We need to identify and seek what God wants us to do. God has a specific call for each and every one of us. We must work in harmony together and not in comparison to each other. He gives us skills we need to find out what he wants us to do,” he said.
When asked, “What would your elementary school teachers say about you?” he says, they always knew he was going to do something good. His college classmates would be proud, as he was always in leadership roles, and would say we expected good things from him.
His goal for New Jerusalem is to remain situated in the community the right way. Stand for people when needed; speak up for the least of thee; protect the vulnerable, women and widows. To him it is biblical.
Please join in the installation of Rev. Joel McCauley Jr. as the new pastor of New Jerusalem Baptist Church on May 15 at 3:30 p.m. at 26 North Bend Road.