“When you are on the road and staying in a hotel, do you ever see prostitutes?” This is a question my father in law, Richard Page, asked me when he inquired about my work with the United Church of Christ Board for Homeland Ministries, Division of Evangelism and Church Extension. I did this work between the ages of 29 and 31. I worked for Bob Burt. My father, Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood Sr., Rev. Tony Stanley and I had developed a proposal to fund ten church internships around the country at predominately African American Churches. The proposal called for ten churches to take on an intern for the ministry, either while they were still in divinity school or early in their careers as a means of helping to shape and form their ministry. The churches in this program were carefully selected based on the pastor of each church. My dad, Rev. Stanley and I were convinced that young ministers and students for the ministry are often heavily shaped by those who serve as their mentors. The scope of the plan was a three year proposal that paid the interns $10,000 annually.
My father was a mentor to Andrew Young. Rev. Stanley had been mentored by his father, Rev. J. Taylor Stanley. Rev. J. Taylor Stanley was also a mentor to my father through the “Convention of the South.” Rev. Stanley later worked for my dad as an associate minister. Rev. Andrew Young and his brother, Walt were the first males I bonded with, after my own father that I looked up to as an infant in New Orleans. At 12 years of age I rode back to New Orleans with Rev. Stanley under my father’s direction to talk with him and keep him awake. We drove to New Orleans for the wedding of him to his first wife, B. Later in life in the prime of my ministry I performed the wedding of Rev. Stanley to his second wife, Andrea, who is the daughter of Andrew Young. Harold Long, the pastor of the Church of the Open Door in Miami pastored a church in Birmingham, Alabama before his call to the church in Florida. During segregation we could not stay in hotels when we traveled so when we got near Birmingham my family would stay with Rev. Long. He was another of my mentors in ministry. Why am I telling you all of this? Because I am the beneficiary of a lot of role models in ministry.
Back to “Prostitutes in hotels.” I think my father in law was testing me to see what I was doing with my time as a young man on the road for the Lord. Smile. I worked for the United Church of Christ for three years. It was a great job. My day job at the Plymouth United Church of Christ only paid me $10,000 a year, before taxes. Denise and I were still new in marriage and frankly, I needed the money. Bob Burt invited me to administer and manage the pastoral internship program that Tony, my Dad and I had created. Bob Burt put me on a mission to visit not only the churches in our internship program, but also churches that were labeled “New Church Starts” and “Renewed Churches.” The Renewed Churches were more established churches that were experiencing difficulty. I traveled for the United Church of Christ one to two weeks a month. I did this work for three years. Bob Burt asked me to leave my work as Associate Minister at the Plymouth United Church of Christ and work for him full time. I was the only African American on his staff. Tomorrow, I am going to write about when I knew it was time to leave that job. Rev. Henry Simmons followed me at the Division of Evangelism for the UCC and worked full time for Bob Burt. Rev. Paul Saddler followed Henry Simmons in that same position.
My father in law was probably concerned that as a 29-year-old, I would get into trouble and make his daughter upset. So, he asked me to describe what it was like on the road. I told him that although I had a pretty large expense account, $10,000 a year, often I stayed in the homes of the ministers I was visiting or with friends. For example, when traveling to Los Angeles to visit Rev. Lloyd Galloway, I stayed in the home of Rev. and Mrs. Galloway. In San Diego, I stayed with Rev. Adlai Mack and his wife. In Washington DC, I stayed with Rev. Stanley and his wife. In New Orleans, I stayed with Michelle and Ray Manning and sometimes Vivian McDonald, my brother Emory’s God-Mother. It was only in the cities where I did not have much of a relationship with the pastor that I would stay in a hotel. Bob Burt and his staff were based in Manhattan, New York. Whenever I was expected to be in New York for staff meetings I stayed in Mt. Vernon, NY in Westchester County with Bob Burt and his wife at their home. My life was exciting, but very controlled in terms of my contact, exposure and environment.
My father in law insisted that I explain to him about seeing prostitutes. So, I outlined my hotel routine. I told him that my boss, Bob Burt, gave me a detailed itinerary of who I was to see and what the purpose of my visit was. Often the days were long. I would rent a car and go from city to city, meeting to meeting and usually get back to the hotel late. Bob Burt encouraged me to use the credit card, get a good meal and a good night’s sleep. Most of the time I would get room service, read a little, prepare for the next day and fall asleep. I also had my “Day Job” at the Plymouth United Church of Christ. So, even though I was on the road, I was writing, planning and thinking about new and existing programs at my church in Detroit. My father in law wanted to know if I would go downstairs and “Hang out at the bar.” I assured him that I did not drink and never went to the bar to hang out. He looked at me like I was from Mars, and said something like this, “Well, if you don’t go to the bar and stay in your room, you probably are not going to see any prostitutes.”
Looking back on those years, It dawned on me that my experience working for Bob Burt and the United Church of Christ Board for Homeland Ministries, Division of Evangelism and Church Extension, was one of the defining times in my life that helped shaped me as a person and as a minister.
The photo at the top of this piece is sunrise behind the Intercontinental Hotel in Miami, Florida. I was in Miami not long ago, preaching a revival at the Church of the Open Door. Each morning I was in Miami, I walked around Biscayne Bay, taking photos of the sunrise, and trying to take in a little exercise. I took this photo of the Intercontinental Hotel and smiled as I remembered that this was one of the hotels I stayed in when on the road for Bod Burt, and no, I did not run into any prostitutes! Smile.
Psalm 144: 12 May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars, cut for the building of a palace. 
Questions for Reflection:
- When and where did you realized you were grown?
- Did your understanding of you maturity make you sad, proud, or happy?
- What is your hope and prayer for the young people in your life?
Prayer: Lord, I thank you for every experience that has shaped my life. I thank you for every joy. I thank you for every challenge. I thank you for every person that I have met along the way. I thank you for love. I thank you for every disappointment, hurt and sorrow. I thank you for your presence. I thank you for your perspective. I thank you for your peace that floods my soul. You are my rock, my stability, my power and my joy. Through Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.
Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
Photo by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/
 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ps 144:12). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.