Saturday, April 14, 2007

Seven Churches

Rev. David Brown Jr. is pastor of seven churches in Louisiana and Mississippi, and he preaches one or two Sundays every month at each. He is one of a dying breed of traveling preachers in the Deep South whose calling is catering to numerous black congregations, many of which date to the plantation era. His predecessors galloped around on horseback, or rode the rails from town to town, and stayed overnight at deacons' houses. He drives the highways and byways in a 2003 Chevy Impala and stops for meals at Waffle House or Wendy's, then heads home every evening.

Brown shuttles between churches during the week, leading Bible studies and performing funerals. His congregations -- ranging from about 250 to just 30 members -- are within two hours of his small brick home in Monroe, La. He has no salary or health-care package and survives on whatever worshipers donated that week.