Bishop William J. Barber II Delivers His Last Sermon After Announcing His Retirement

Bishop William J. Barber II Delivers His Last Sermon After Announcing His Retirement

Bishop William J. Barber II, pastor and civil rights leader, is passing the mantle after 30 years.

Barber announced his retirement as the senior pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, because of arthritis. According to CNN, Barber has ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that causes inflammation in the spine and can affect posture and breathing, per the Mayo Clinic.

Church and state are both responsible for advancing Black people in America for the civil rights activist. Barber spoke to the nation when he was appointed to deliver the sermon at President Joe Biden’s inaugural prayer service at Washington National Cathedral. The retired pastor proclaimed, “We cannot accept the racial disparities, violence, and breaches that impact Black, brown, Native and Asian Americans while offering collateral damage to our poor white brothers and sisters and ultimately our entire democracy,” according to TIME Magazine.

The work Barber has done speaks for him. He became the president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP in 2005 and remained in the position for 12 years. Per CNN, Barber was known for his nonviolent approach to challenging legislation he disagreed with, like his Moral Monday protests. In April 2023, ABC 11 reported Barber had led the protests against discriminatory laws and policies for 10 years.

According to CNN, Barber is the founding director of the Yale Center for Public Theology and Public Policy. The outlet reported that he will continue his work there. BLACK ENTERPRISE previously reported Barber said his goal was to share his knowledge with a new generation of moral leaders. Barber said of his role as head of the center at the time, “We will teach this history & engage divinity students, law students, & undergrads in moral fusion analysis, articulation, & activism in the tradition of Frederick Douglass & Sojourner Truth, Walter Rauschenbusch & Howard Thurman, Ida B. Wells, Dorothy Day, MLK & Ella Baker.”

Barber has held the spiritual office of senior pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church since 1993.