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Kirbyjon H. Caldwell is the American pastor of the Windsor Village United Methodist Church, a 14,000-member megachurch in Houston, Texas, United States. He was one of President George W. Bush's most influential spiritual advisors.

Contents

Background

Caldwell was born in 1953 in Houston. His father was a clothier who made suits for James Brown, The Temptations, and other celebrities. His mother was a high school guidance counselor. The family lived in the Kashmere Gardens neighborhood of Houston and Caldwell graduated from Kashmere High School.[1]

Caldwell went to university at Carleton College, receiving his B.S. in Economics in 1975. He then attended the Wharton School of Business, receiving his M.B.A. in 1977.

Caldwell worked briefly as an investment banker at First Boston in New York City, before returning to Houston to take a job at the bond firm of Hibbard, O'Conner, and Weeks.

Although he was very successful financially, Caldwell felt called to Christian ministry and subsequently attended the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, receiving his masters in Divinity in 1981. While completing his degree, Caldwell was appointed Associate Pastor at St. Mary's United Methodist Church in Houston.

He has been a director on the Continental Airlines board of directors since May 1999.[2]

Pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church

Caldwell was appointed the Senior Pastor of the Windsor Village United Methodist Church in 1982. At the time the congregation had only 25 members.

Through a friend of his father's, Skipper Lee Frazier (who had managed various 1960s soul acts including Archie Bell & the Drells), Caldwell was able to get a show on public access television which let him reach a wide audience and build his flock. Soon, his sermons were attracting scores of people - mainly middle-class black families, but also including some celebrities: Evander Holyfield, Warren Moon, André Action Jackson and Star Jones during her time in law school.

One of the major themes of Caldwell's preaching has been the need for his congregation to follow Jesus Christ's lead by being actively involved in community service. Taking the lead, Caldwell has transformed the Windsor Village United Methodist Church into an all-purpose community help center. Nonprofit organizations organized by the church include: Patrice House, a shelter for abused children; a tutoring program for schoolchildren; and a program that matches teens to mentors.

Windsor Village United Methodist Church had 7,000 members by 1994 and 11,000 by 1996.

To accommodate the size of the congregation, in 1993, the church purchased a former Kmart in one of the most blighted parts of Houston and renovated it into the Power Center (a play on the retailing term "power center"). In addition to worship space, the Power Center includes a school, a medical clinic, satellite classrooms for a local community college, low-cost office space, a branch of the Texas Commerce Bank (there were previously no banks in the entire neighborhood), as well as charities such as a Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program, and an AIDS outreach center. The mission of the Power Center is to create jobs in the low-income neighborhood and to teach members of the neighborhood how to create wealth. The Center's motto is from Isaiah 61.4: "They shall repair the ruined cities and restore what has long lain desolate."

Unlike many churches, no one sits on the stage during services, including Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell.

The Gospel of Good Success

In 1996, the Wall Street Journal ran a front-page story on Caldwell which prompted Simon & Schuster to approach him and ask him to write a book. This book, co-authored with Mark Seal, was entitled The Gospel of Good Success: A Road Map to Spiritual, Emotional, and Financial Wholeness: it was published in 1999. The book sets forth Caldwell's ideas about economic empowerment and how to "handle success." The book became a bestseller.

Relationship with George W. Bush

In 1996, George W. Bush, then the governor of Texas, saw an article about Caldwell in the Dallas Morning News and initiated contact between the two. Bush subsequently spoke at the grand opening of the Power Center in 1996. The two came to agree that partnership between religious organizations and the government could have positive social results.

Although Caldwell is himself a political independent, in 2000, Bush asked Caldwell to introduce him at the 2000 Republican National Convention.

Caldwell offered the official benediction at Bush's inauguration in 2001. This prayer engendered some controversy since Caldwell closed his prayer by saying he prayed in "the name that's above all other names, Jesus the Christ. Let all who agree say Amen", which some felt was religiously insensitive to non-Christians and inappropriate at a secular ceremony. (For example, Alan Dershowitz wrote, "The plain message conveyed by the new administration is that George W. Bush's America is a Christian nation, and that non-Christians are welcome into the tent so long as they agree to accept their status as a tolerated minority rather than as full equal citizens.") Caldwell denies that he was proselytizing, saying that he always prayed in the name of Jesus. Bush visited the Power Center again in 2003 to commemorate its 10-year anniversary.

Caldwell again offered the official benediction at Bush's 2005 inauguration. When asked to offer the prayer again at Bush's second inauguration, Caldwell added the phrase "respective of all faiths, I submit this prayer in the Name of Jesus."

On May 10, 2008, he officiated at the wedding of Jenna Bush and Henry Hager in Crawford, Texas.[1]

According to some reports, Bush and Caldwell speak regularly on the telephone for spiritual counseling and prayer.

Caldwell's work at the Power Center was one of the inspirations for Bush's "faith based initiatives" and Caldwell was influential in Bush's decision to create the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

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Links to other politicians

Caldwell endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary[2], and supported him against John McCain in the general presidential election.[3]

Second book and recent work

Caldwell published his second book, Entrepreneurial Faith: Launching Bold Initiatives to Expand God's Kingdom, in 2004.

In the wake of 2005's Hurricane Katrina, Houston became home to thousands of evacuees from New Orleans, Louisiana. As a result, Caldwell organized a massive food drive along with churches of other faiths in the Houston area, entitled Operation Compassion, to feed and pray for the evacuees living in the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Astrodome.

Corinthian Pointe

Caldwell, Pyramid Residential Community Corporation, and Ryland Homes established a Houston subdivision called Corinthian Pointe in the 2000s. Corinthian Pointe, located outside of the 610 Loop and inside Beltway 8 near Reliant Park, is the largest residential subdivision in Houston that was developed by a non-profit group. Many of the houses in Corinthian Pointe were sold at below-market values.[3]

The public elementary school in Corinthian Pointe, Jean Hines-Caldwell Elementary School, was named after Jean LaNell Hines-Caldwell, Kirbyjon Caldwell's mother.[4]

Personal

Caldwell's first wife was Patrice Johnson, who had served as chief of staff for Mickey Leland, a Texas congressman. She died in a plane crash in Ethiopia with Leland in 1989. Patrice House is named in memory of her.

His second wife is Suzette Turner, older sister of Debbye Turner, who was Miss America 1990. Together, they have three children named Turner, Nia, & Alexander. Pastor Suzette T. Caldwell also serves as Chairman of the Kingdom Builders' Prayer Institute.

See also

References

  1. ^ "HISD Connect - Alumni". http://www.houstonisd.org/HISDConnectDS/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=c3783acb02efc010VgnVCM10000052147fa6RCRD&vgnextfmt=alt2&articleItem=3. Retrieved 2009-05-24.  
  2. ^ "Board of Directors & Company Officers." Continental Airlines. Retrieved on February 5, 2009.
  3. ^ Van Biema, David. "Does God Want You To Be Rich?." TIME. Sunday September 10, 2006. 8. Retrieved on February 5, 2009.
  4. ^ "Jean LaNell Hines Caldwell." Jean Hines-Caldwell Elementary School. Retrieved on February 5, 2009.

External links


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