Third Baptist Church of Chicago’s Rev. Dr. Ragland retires
During a Sunday morning service in May of 2018, the Reverend Dr. Alan Vincent Ragland announced to his congregation at Third Baptist Church of Chicago (1551 West 95th Street) that he was retiring from his 26-year role as Senior Pastor. “God is doing a new thing in my life and the life of Third Baptist Church of Chicago, and the church is poised to take the next step of legacy building for the community and the Kingdom,” said Ragland.
He became the second pastor in the history of the church, founded by Reverend Elmer L. Fowler in 1963.
Ragland has continued Fowler’s legacy through his leadership, and his vision to help others recognize their individual callings and collective responsibility. His work has positioned him as a national and international preacher, scholar and theologian.
Programming that has served both the congregation and the broader community is a hallmark of his tenure.
Ragland is considered a man who breathes life and love into others, and the work he is called to do. Recognized as a trailblazer, he has made substantial contributions in building the spiritual and vocational muscle of others, including opening doors by advocating for, licensing and ordaining the first female ministers and deacons.
More than 25 persons have responded to the call to ministry and have participated in the TBCoC Ministers-in-Training Program, which he developed. He is father-in-ministry to men and women in various clergy roles in Chicago, and nationally.
As the southwest side Chicago community evolved, Ragland expanded the profile and footprint of Third Baptist Church to better serve the changing needs of his congregation and the community. Under his leadership over three dozen outreach ministries have been implemented.
His initiatives include a weekly Food Pantry; a comprehensive Faith-Based Care Network of health and wellness, grief share, and Stephen Ministers; a broad-based youth development program; an extensive Christian Education Program; a seniors ministry; a jail ministry; a variety of physical fitness options; college scholarships and grants for more than 20 consecutive years; a number of community partnership services, such as the Vanderpoel Elementary School One Church One School initiative, and the interfaith worship services with the B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim Jewish congregation.
Ragland has also cultivated broad partnerships that have been critical to mission sustainability for community impact. He and the Joint Boards of Third Baptist Church developed the nationally recognized Heritage Community Development Corporation (HCDC) and Quantum Faith non-profit organizations, as corporate extensions of the congregation’s ministry.
Additionally, he spearheaded the ALIVE! Program, a faith-based initiative on healthy lifestyles aimed at reducing the health disparities in African-American communities, in partnership with Rush University Medical Center, within five congregations in Chicago.
A visionary, Ragland led TBCoC in construction of the TBCoC Life Center, a four-story building built to the specifications of a K-12 school, including classrooms, a gymnasium, a chapel, and offices.
Ragland honors the legacy of those who have come before him and those who will come after him at Third Baptist Church of Chicago.
In this mentoring spirit he welcomes Reverend Tyon Hughes as the Senior Pastor-Elect.
Ragland notes, “the African principle of Sankofa teaches us to look back, honoring our past, as we move forward, engaging the future. As a congregation with a rich 55-year history with two pastoral leaders, may this “third season” under new pastoral leadership be anchored in the wisdom of our previous days, and ready us for the coming of fresh new days.”
Senior Pastor Elect Hughes takes the helm of Third Baptist after serving seven years as Youth and Young Adult Pastor, with the additional duty as Manager of Operations for the last year.
“I am honored and grateful to have Dr. Ragland as an amazing mentor and friend. The journey of this church’s history has been guided by God, and the future will be no different. I proudly stand on the foundational work of Reverend Fowler and Dr. Ragland and I know that wherever the Lord leads me as the new Senior Pastor, I will work to ensure that Third Baptist Church of Chicago follows.”