Lawrence W. Rodgers was born to Robbie and Darryl in Eastern North Carolina. His parents taught him to be both spiritually astute and socially conscious. The poor town of Kinston that Lawrence grew up in, introduced him to social ills that often plagued poor people, black people, people of color, and women. From a young age, Lawrence realized the potency of religious communities as social organizations for advocacy, social justice, and a refuge or relief from societal oppression or neglect of marginalized people. Lawrence was fully aware that many Christian churches were failing in this area of ecclesiological praxis. After recognizing this problem he knew he must be change he wished to see.
Lawrence spent a great deal of time working and ministering to local churches around his city. He often emphasized Jesus’ mandate for his followers to serve the poor and advocate for the oppressed. Lawrence helped to establish several social justice ministries and would often preach from a perspective that seeks to contextualize the gospel in the 21st Century context. Lawrence has been married to Bettae since 2010, and they currently have one daughter who brings them great joy and happiness. They met each other at a church event in North Carolina and have been best friends ever since.
While Lawrence has appreciated the older ministers and pastors, who worked to help to train him, he felt that this training alone would be inadequate for himself. Lawrence desired to study the scriptures academically himself and learn to interpret for himself. Lawrence did not want a hand me down interpretation or a hand me down theology, but personally, interpret and understand what he studied. Lawrence and his new wife Bettae moved from Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina to Searcy, Arkansas where he studied Bible/Ministry at Harding University. Lawrence graduated in 2013 receiving his Bachelors with honors such as the “Most Outstanding Bible/Ministry Major” award and graduated as a member of various honor societies. It was around the time Lawrence graduated that Bettae had their first child, a baby girl.
Lawrence is a recent 2017 graduate of Howard University School of Divinity with his Master’s of Divinity. He graduated at the top of his class, and with the following honors: The Biblical Scholarship Award for excelling in biblical and theological studies. The Donald Barton Prize for most likely to succeed in Pastoral Leadership, and the Delores Carpenter Award for “exemplifying the highest levels of academic achievement and embodying the commitment to do justice, love mercy, and walking humbly with God.”
Lawrence is also an author and plans on continuing to write for the sake of the edification of the people of God and the propagation of God’s righteousness and justice. The Rodgers are also dedicated to the continued architecture of the beloved community. Furthermore, the Rodgers believes that acts of compassion are synonymous with our Christian walk: therefore, social compassion is paramount to meeting the call of Christ and discipleship.
Lawrence has been involved in speaking engagements at many congregations across the nation and abroad. He also serves as the guest lecturer at various universities. He has many years of diverse ministerial experience. He plans to continue to implement the ministerial vision that has been laid upon his heart. Lawrence plans to continue to encourage the church locally and at large to realize its potential and its heavenly call to be a refuge for the afflicted, broken, and the lost, consequently being an advocate both vocally and in praxis for the oppressed and marginalized. Ultimately, Lawrence believes the church on earth is to be a glimpse of the church in Heaven which is a beloved community.
Lawrence is also currently the pastor of Westside Church of Christ. A 50-year-old congregation on the Westside of Baltimore, MD. Since Lawrence has come to Westside, the congregation has been very intentional about the development of social justice ministries, such as a homeless ministry that not only houses homeless families but goes into the streets and works with homeless individuals in a one-on-one or group setting. Westside has developed “Community Appreciation Meals” which is an idea Lawrence has helped to implement at three different churches. It is essentially a pot-luck in reverse where the members of the church bring the food, but the church invites the community to eat it. Westside also has human trafficking ministries, a budding literacy ministry, a re-entry citizens ministry, community garden, and more.