Anchored by 1010 WINS’ Larry Mullins
Produced for 1010 WINS by Sharon Barnes-Waters
NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — Black History Month honoree Rev. A.R. Bernard is the CEO & Founder of the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn.
Next year, the megachurch will mark 40 years of ministry in New York City. What started in a small room with 20 folding chairs now has nearly 40,000 members.
Rev. Bernard tells 1010 WINS’ Larry Mullins he worked in the banking industry for 10 years and was a member of the Nation of Islam when his secretary introduced him to Christianity in a new and different way.
“That night – January 11, 1975 – I experienced my epiphany. I knew that the things I was looking for in other religious systems and other organizations culminated at that point in the person of Christ – not the institution of Christianity, but the person of Christ,” he says. “And that started me on a whole new journey to understand him and the church that he gave birth to.”
He says he believes evangelicalism is a theological identity with four primary elements: conversionism, biblical authority, crucicentrism and activism. As such, the Christian Cultural Center has grown to become more than a church – it has a school, bookstore and more.
“I believe in a Christ that is very present in the culture and in the dynamics of the culture, who is the cosmic ruler of the universe. So not divorced from the universe, but definitely involved in the social structures through the lives of people,” he says. “So we believe very strongly here that we have to be present in the society that we serve in every way possible.”
Rev. Bernard’s work often focuses on men.
“I believe very strong that men, based upon the biblical model of family, have the greatest level of responsibility as a leader. Not to exercise domination, but dominion,” he says. “And the true sense of the word dominion means that as a leader, the man is able to identify the gifts, the talents, the abilities, the strengths that exist in the wife and in the children and has a responsibility to bring out the best in those individuals so that they can contribute to the family and the family then contributes to society.”
He says his experiences with the Nation of Islam shaped the man he is today.
“I was a kid and I was very impressed by the sense of order. I grew up without a father, so that impressed me – order, discipline, identity, strength – all the things that a young man growing up without a father would need, especially in the ‘60s, because the issue of identity was big in the black community,” he says.
Rev. Bernard goes on to discuss the current political climate and talks about joining and stepping down from Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board.
“America is being forced to have a conversation that it has refused to have and tried to gloss over. There’s a wonderful passage in The Book of Jeremiah in The Living Bible and it says that you cannot heal a thing by saying it’s not there. And that’s so true. So we’ve tried to ignore the reality and failed to address it,” he says. “But this climate is forcing a conversation. If anything Donald Trump has done as president, he has exposed the spiritual and moral condition of our nation. So it’s less about him as a person – more about the character of the nation.”
He also talks about training church members in customer service, based on models used by AMEX and Disney.
“The church is simply three things: environment, people and programs. How we deliver that experience will determine how we grow and what we create,” he says.
Rev. Bernard says he is hoping to create a church and community model that can be replicated elsewhere, while mentoring and writing.
His key to leadership? Working hard on himself to model the kind of leader, family man, husband, father, etc. that his members can emulate.
His key to longevity? Managing both continuity and change.
How does he do it all?
“Discipline is the bridge between thought and accomplishment, and I try to lead as disciplined a life as I can in terms of how I manage my time and how I manage relationships,” he says. “After a while, you come to understand it’s less about quantity and more about quality.”
To learn more about the Christian Cultural Center, visit the website.