Boynton Chapel’s Pastor Linda Davis is opening doors and changing lives
Pastor Linda Davis

One of the busiest and most dynamic faith leaders in the city doesn’t pastor a mega-church, yet she has had and continues to have a mega-impact upon the lives of people in the Houston area, especially in Third Ward, home to the church she pastors.

To who are we referring? Pastor Linda Davis of Boynton Chapel United Methodist Church.

The Defender garnered an exclusive interview with this ever-active minister who is also the chair of the Emancipation Economic Development Council’s Faith in Action workgroup, to learn more about her and her multi-faceted ministry activities.

DEFENDER: Can you describe your call to ministry?

PASTOR LINDA DAVIS: I knew I was called to ministry. I grew up in the African Methodist Episcopal denomination. So, I was very familiar and comfortable with female pastors. We had a female pastor at my church growing up. I knew that there was something special about her call to ministry and it all always piqued my curiosity. Her daughter was one of my best friends. Whenever I would go over to her house, I was so busy trying to see what her mom was reading and what her mom was doing instead of talking about boys or other things with my friends. So, I knew I was called to ministry. I didn’t want do it. I tried to go all the way around it. But after I got my MBA and was a legal administrator of a major law firm downtown, the Lord told me, “I let you get that, but that’s not what I called you to do.” I’ve always had an interest in social justice and community activism, especially as it relates to politics. I didn’t get involved in politics. But my brother was on his school board. I worked at his campaign and worked for a U.S. House of Representatives member out of the Detroit area. But I knew all the time that I was called to ministry, I just didn’t want to do it. So, once I got my MBA, the Lord said, “Okay, I let you get that, but that’s not what I told you to do.” And three months later I was in seminary <laughs>.

DEFENDER: Did you face any pushback as a woman seeking to become a pastor?

PASTOR LINDA DAVIS: Oh God, yes. There were times when the brothers got a little bit more things accomplished than the women. They get more support than the women do. We have to really kind of push and fight for the things that we get, and so we’re getting some support. Thankfully, those whose shoulder I stand on, they fought for us and made things a little bit easier for us as women ministers today. I did get some pushback, but in my journey, like I said, I was always familiar with women in ministry. And even those that did not believe in women in ministry, I believe that they began to welcome us. And God had always put me in the company of someone that believed in my call. So that has always been, that has been my anchor.

DEFENDER: You talked about pushback. What about your support system?

PASTOR LINDA DAVIS: Reverend James Carter out Lansing, Michigan. I remember going to him telling him I was having dreams about preaching. He never, ever said “Linda, you’re called to preach” but he let me find my way. And I found my way. And before I left Michigan, I started doing some things in ministry there, moving towards my call. And then when I came to Houston, I joined Covenant Glen United Methodist Church. Reverend Marilyn White was the associate pastor at that time there. So, I was very familiar with women in ministry. Didn’t want to do anything though. I had always been a children and youth leader and worked in women’s ministry. They asked me to start doing a little bit more on the ministry side. And I was like, “I don’t want to do that.” But that unction from God was like, “They may be asking, but I’m telling you, this is what I want you to do.”

DEFENDER: Favorite ministry story.

PASTOR LINDA DAVIS: Third Ward is a very transient community. And when I went to Third Ward (Boynton Chapel UMC), a lot of the kids were hanging outside because their moms’ them said that they couldn’t come in the house for various reasons. And a lot of it had to do with the parents being on drugs and different things like that. So, I remember them asking me, “Pastor Davis, can we come inside the church?” Initially, I was like, “No, I’m here by myself.” But I started to let them come inside after I got with my team at church and had some of the men to be there, as well. One particular day, I’ll never forget this particular day. I can remember it like yesterday. I go back into my office and there’s this young man who comes into the church, and he goes up to the piano and he starts playing and playing well. I didn’t know it was him because I’m in my office. I thought it was our church music director who had come in at the time. When I came out of the office and only saw this young man, I said, “Was that you playing?” And he says, “Yes, Pastor Davis, that was me playing.” And I said, “Who’s been teaching you how to play?” He said, “I taught myself how to play off of YouTube.” I was like, oh my God. And I’m telling you he can play. He can really play. From that, the God moved in and instructed me to write a grant for a music academy. So, I wrote a grant for our music academy and we had a music academy for two years taught by Lloyd Hughes, who is a retired HISD music teacher who taught at Parker Elementary, which is one of our music magnet schools elementary schools. We hired him and he came in and started teaching our students up until COVID. But I want to tell you the success story about that young man. He was in a household that was being challenged financially, spiritually and holistically. But he ended up getting a four-year music scholarship to Talladega College and that young man, I talked to his mom this last week, he will be graduating in May 2022.

DEFENDER: What does Boynton have planned for 2022?

PASTOR LINDA DAVIS: Boynton has a lot planned for 2022. We have looked at our strategic plan and we just got our CDC. It is our desire to build some single-family housing. We just met with someone recently with reference to being a COVID care site through a program called Freedom COVID Care providing free care, and a permanent site for testing. We are doing a lot of outreach. We are hoping to keep the doors open, even with COVID, but we are doing social distancing and masking and different things like that. For the last five months, we have been a site for Harris County Public Health, giving vaccinations for the last five months. We will continue on doing those things. We’re hoping to have a food truck to be able to provide fresh produce in the community for people. We’re looking at possibly having a community garden. So yeah, we have a lot going on and a lot that we’re hoping to do.

MORE ABOUT PASTOR LINDA DAVIS

Born: St. Louis, Missouri

Raised: Saginaw, Michigan

Favorite Movies: American President, Black Panther, The Notebook and The Preacher’s Wife

Favorite Genres of Music: Gospel, R&B, Neo-Soul and Jazz

Favorite Food: “Seafood. That’s from my New Orleans background, because I lived in New Orleans for a number of years.”

Currently Reading: “I have a bunch of different books: The Fire This Time by Don Lemon, of course the Bible, but I’m also reading Paw Paw My Star by friend and church member Anika Porter. It’s based on her brother who passed and his children and their relationship. That’s a pretty good book. I read just a variety of books, anything that piques my interest.”

Education: “I have an MBA and I went to Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. I am an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.”

Occupation Before Ministry: “My background is labor and employment. I was a legal administrator of a major law firm downtown.”

Start at Boynton Chapel UMC: July of 2016

Website: BoyntonChapelHouston.com

Email: BoyntonChapel484@ymail.com

Facebook: Boynton Chapel UMC-Houston