Our Very Own Rev. Gardner, Now Pastor of First Sixth Street
One of our very own Rev. Gardner is now the pastor of the First Sixth Street Baptist Church. The entire Gospel Male Chorus of Southeast Texas (GMCSETX) says congratulations Pastor Gardner.
Below is article authored by Mr. David Bell of the Port Arthur News.
"Young man now pastor of historic West Side church"
At 31 years of age, the Rev. Kalan Gardner Sr. said he is the youngest pastor in the city of Port Arthur. Yet he is now pastor of a historic church in the city.
First Sixth Street Baptist Church started in 1910. Among its pastors was the Rev. Ransom Howard who was a civil rights pioneer in the city and president of the local NAACP chapter in Port Arthur. In fact, a street running adjacent to the church that leads from the Westside to downtown is named after him.
The church, likewise, has welcomed Gardner with open arms.
“I was elected pastor here on Feb. 25. This is my third Sunday here and it’s exciting,” he said. “It’s very humbling to be here and one of our former pastors was such a pillar in the community and a man of that stature.”
Gardner is a native of Port Arthur. He was a member of the first graduating class from Memorial High School though he considers himself a Lincoln Bumblebee.
He attended Lamar University, but he received a call to preach his freshman year. He started preaching at age 18, licensed to the ministry on Dec. 28, 2003, and was ordained on May 26, 2013.
Growing up, he attended Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church. One of his spiritual mentors, the Rev. Samuel Joseph, is pastor there. The other mentor is the Rev. Donald Frank Sr., pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church.
It was at New Hope where Gardner served as the youth pastor for four years.
“I was heavily involved in church through my music,” he said. “I never knew I would be a preacher. It was a shock to us all.”
Gardener, moreover, believes his first senior pastorate is in good condition.
He said the church structure at First Sixth Street has been maintained well over the years.
“They’ve taken good care of the edifice. The education building next door is the old church and they took care of it. It’s the church of pride on the Westside,” he said.
The church is predominately an older congregation, but 15 people joined the past two Sundays since Gardner has been pastor and some of the people were under 40.
And as with his predecessor, Gardner is president of the NAACP in Port Arthur. His first year anniversary is this month.
His goal as president is to get younger members active in the local chapter. Gardner admitted he attended some NAACP meetings while he was a younger man, but he wasn’t active. Now he is.
“We have over 100 members now. We awarded three scholarships at our banquet in October. We’re rebuilding it step by step. The older generation has really helped us. They have a lot of wisdom,” Gardner said.
Another area Gardner would like to see the NAACP participate in is getting involved with the city’s youth.
“We want to get active in local things. It’s a very exciting time for us,” he said.
The Port Arthur NAACP meets the first Monday of the month at the West Side Development Center, 601 W. Rev. Dr. Ransom Howard St.