A higher calling
St. James Baptist Church Pastor John Ross says he was called to Pilot Point by God.
“This city is a place poised for growth, but there is indeed an undercurrent of angst and anxiety by all individuals. I take notice to how when issues arise, everybody goes to their corner. They go to their corner and point fingers,” Ross said. “Rather than coming together, everybody just proceeds to that place of security.
“But I think that can easily be overcome by communication.”
Originally from Baton Rouge, La., and a sales manager by trade, Ross had been serving as the pastor of Trinitarian Christian Church in South Dallas for more than 10 years when last year he met the St. James interim pastor, Rev. Wayne Brown, at a ministers meeting in Chicago.
“I met him, we exchanged numbers and while in Chicago God said, ‘Hey listen, call Rev. Brown and tell him you want to visit,’” Ross said. “From there, God said, ‘Here’s where you’re supposed to be; here’s where I want you.’”
Ross arrived at St. James in January without any intention of becoming the pastor and committed himself to helping the church grow. But in March, the congregation asked him to become the pastor. He assumed the role in May. He had to leave Trinitarian Christian to take the job, but Ross said he’s never second guessed the decision.
“When God calls you to do something, you do it. So it was not so much a sacrifice as following the direction of God,” Ross said.
Ross has been the spokesperson for residents living near the proposed planned development north of Burks Street. At recent public hearings of the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council, residents have expressed sentiments of mistrust and skepticism toward the project.
Ross has attempted to act as a mediator between the city and the community.
“When issues arise, they come from a place of lack of knowledge, they come from a place of not having a clear understanding. When you’ve been marginalized, you’re not as angry because you’re marginalized as much as you’re angry of why you’re being marginalized,” Ross said.
In meetings with city staff and Mayor Shea Dane-Patterson, Ross has discussed possible grants that could help with long-standing issues in the neighborhood on the north side of town. Roads, drainage and recreation are long-neglected problems that need to be addressed, Ross said.
“We hear the statement, ‘We must do what’s best for the city,’ but it’s never as a whole; it’s always one sided. If it’s what’s best for the city, why are we not a part of that?” Ross said.
Ross does not believe the city is responsible for fixing every part of every problem and hopes to instead build a partnership. He said he has experience competing in and coaching sports that has taught him how a collaborative effort can achieve success.
“The word ‘community’ denotes that it’s people coming together for a single purpose, and it denotes that everyone is working toward a common good,” Ross said.
“That’s what I’d love to see, people all working together, all walks of life, all colors, all creeds, all religions, all sexual orientations, whatever they may be. That they’re able to walk side by side for the common good of the community and not just an individual.”