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Arkansas Pastor Tells Breaking Israel News his Church Celebrates Hanukkah

by Princella D. Smith, Breaking Israel News

 

“Not Your Grandpa’s Pastor”  Scott Stewart

He speaks so quickly that it seems the sound waves of his words hit your ears before his lips stop moving. He is a “young 48 years old”. Even though he has three children, a grandchild, and a grandchild on the way, you would never notice any sign of slowing down with the skip in his step and nearly no sign of gray hair.

“He” is Scott Stewart, and he sat down with Breaking Israel News for his first exclusive interview since the announcement that he will be the newly inducted Pastor of Agape Church in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The first thing you hear when you enter the office is his pleasant receptionist chirping “Welcome!” She knows it’s time for the meeting and assures that “Pastor Scott will be right with you.” The second thing you hear is Scott’s authoritative yet friendly voice coming from down the hall rattling off a list of items to be done before he dashes into the lobby to greet me: “Hey, Princella. Are you ready? It’s interview time!”

I involuntarily pause for a second. He’s wearing blue jeans with a blue jean jacket and casual shoes. This is certainly a far cry from the usual ensemble of a pastor of a church in Arkansas—or anywhere in the American South for that matter. No suit and tie? No blazer and slacks? Not even a polo shirt and khakis?

Scott’s eyes are shining, and he has the biggest smile on his face—almost like a kid right before he opens his birthday presents. He reaches out to give me a hug like he hasn’t seen me in three months even though we belong to the same church. Immediately, any nervousness I may have had about conducting a good interview for my first Breaking Israel News profile piece goes out the window.

“Let’s go!” he said.

He doesn’t take the traditional seat of sitting behind the pastor’s desk and directing me to sit in the guest chairs. He plops down in one of the guest chairs, and I take the seat at his desk so that I have more room to type.

I’m still really taking all of this in. This is one of the most laid-back ministers I’ve ever met. This man is going to be my new pastor at Agape Church? He’s going to maintain this persona in southern, traditional, bible-belt Arkansas?? This I’ve got to see.

We jump right into what seems to be Scott’s favorite topic (besides his love for God) to discuss: his record of church-planting in Europe and the heavy Hebraic influence of each. Scott’s churches are not the traditional Anglican or Catholic churches which come to mind when the words “Christian Europe” are heard.

It seems the church closest to Scott’s heart is the one he planted in Scotland, “The Church at Stirling”.

There, he instituted “The Jacob Plan” which is an Israel outreach ministry in Scotland.

“It’s our reconciliatory arm of the ministry which reaches out to the Jewish community,” he said.  We are commanded by both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures to honor the seed of Abraham. This arm does that.”

And this is where Scott most distinguishes himself from traditional Christian ministers—especially ones in the American South. He truly believes that Christians should take the lead in repairing the damage done to the spiritual relationship between Christians and Jews which reaches as far back as the days of Constantine the Emperor who brought Christianity to Rome and then Greece.

It’s not that American Christians do not support Israel. In fact, the largest pro-Israel organization in the entire world is Christians United for Israel (CUFI) with a growing membership of over one million members.  However, most Christians would be surprised to know the deep-seated distrust of Christians within the Jewish community due to a combination of historical events, theological misunderstandings, and lingering pain from the Holocaust.

 “The Jacob Plan”

The Jacob Plan at The Church at Stirling will be the defining aspect of Scott’s legacy.  The Jacob Plan aims to find the commonality between Christians and Jews. “We are commanded by both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures to honor the seed of Abraham. The Jacob Plan does that,” Scott explained.

“We named it The Jacob Plan, because, in the Hebrew scriptures, Jacob is renamed ‘Israel’”, Scott continued.  “We created an event as a part of The Jacob Plan that honors the Jewish people for their contribution to the Christian faith and call it ‘A Night to Celebrate Israel’ ”.

Scott is quick to clarify that “A Night to Celebrate Israel” is not the same as “Night to Honor Israel” which is led by CUFI. The main difference between the two is that CUFI’s “Night to Honor Israel” places more emphasis on public policy and includes political figures and policy-makers while Stirling’s “A Night to Celebrate Israel” considers their effort to be more faith-based.

Scott’s face completely lights up when he starts speaking about the reactions to the yearly “Night to Celebrate Israel”. Without seeming to breathe in between sentences, he chirps: “We’ve had so many Jewish people attend the events, and they say ‘What is this? How do you create the electricity in the room like this?’ ”

According to Scott, the Jewish attendees usually appear a bit cautious or not quite at full comfort level when they first arrive. It’s almost as if they do not know what to expect. However, as the service progresses, they find themselves pleasantly amazed at the sight.

The featured music focuses on the Hebrew aspect of Christianity, so Jewish and Christian attendees are comfortably appearing at the service together. They sing songs like “Mighty One of Israel” and even some songs with Hebrew language permeate the room.  Torah and Tanakh scriptures are quoted—known to Christians as the Old Testament—the foundation of the Christian Bible.

Scott and the Church at Stirling leadership want their Jewish guests to know that this is their premiere event of the year. They wear full kilts which is the most formal dress possible in Scotland.

As a result of The Jacob Plan, there are “Nights to Celebrate Israel” in Wales and London and others forthcoming in Ireland and Manchester.

The fact that these things happen in a place like Europe is more than remarkable and quite impressive. Europe is known in many circles for its widespread Anti-Semitism, so my first follow-up question to Scott was: “How do the Jewish attendees respond to this?”

Scott is eager to reply that the Jewish attendees are less expressive during service but express afterwards how impressed they were to worship together. Their raving reviews seemed to have surprised him a bit because they were so quiet during the event.

Nefesh B’nefesh means “soul by soul” or “one by one” in Hebrew. It is an organization promoting Aliyah known as the official process of immigration to Israel. Their mission according to their website is to “…send an unmistakable signal of Anglo-Israeli Jewish solidarity and of our mutual determination to strengthen the State of Israel and thereby increase the likelihood of an ever expanding Aliyah reality.” Yet another entity unusually headquartered in the United Kingdom.

The head of the United Kingdom arm of Nefesh B’nefesh attended one of the services two years ago and couldn’t stop talking about it: “Did everybody feel that?” he asked his fellow Jewish attendees.

Scott is very excited as he offers an effusive description of the man’s astonishment: “He just kept turning to me and asking: ‘How do you do that?’ over and over. So many of the Jewish attendees couldn’t believe it. They felt an energy—a religious energy—and they felt it in a worship service with Christians!”

As proven with The Jacob Plan, Scott seems to have taken the method of “meeting people where they are” in building relationships between Christians and Jews.  Because of his work in Europe, for example, the Jewish community invites members of The Church at Stirling to travel with them to Israel each year on their chartered flights when there are open seats. They even attend ballets and other social events together with the Christian Scots.

Scott’s work with The Church at Stirling has received acclaim from the Israeli government elite itself. Scott had already left Scotland and returned to Arkansas by the time the church held this year’s “Night To Celebrate Israel”, but a true testament to his leadership is that the church continues to hold that celebration as he initiated it, and both the event and the church have developed a growing esteem in the public eye.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recognized the 2013 “Night To Celebrate Israel” via an official congratulatory letter. Scott has a copy of the letter on his iPhone and paused in the middle of the interview to send it to me.

An excerpt of Netanyahu’s letter read:  “This special evening affords me the opportunity to express my gratitude to [T]he Church at Stirling and its many guests for your staunch support of the State of Israel. It is heartwarming to know that the people of Israel have such steadfast friends. The friendship is a source of great strength.”

The Jewish Telegraph also covered the event and ran a story on October 21, 2013 citing Glasgow Jewish Representative Council President, Paul Morron: “To see so many people travelling to this event to show their support for Israel is very special. The impact this has had on the local community is quite dramatic in a place which can be quite hostile to Israel at times.”

Earlier in the year, The Israeli embassy in London invited members of the church to Israeli President Peres’ birthday party. When Scott began explaining this, it refreshed my personal memory because I was living in Israel at the time, and there was an attempt for me to meet these members, but we could not get our schedules to mesh.

Things seem to be slowly coming together for me at this point of the interview, but I still want to know what makes a man like this tick?

Scott is so intriguingly unusual. Here is this man from ARKANSAS who has traveled the world and planted Christian churches in EUROPE of all places. Most Christians do not view Europe as a mission field because it is so predominately Christian, but Scott’s mission there was different. It wasn’t as much about converting others to Christianity as it was about leading Christians toward a deeper and more historical, intellectual understanding of the Hebraic roots of Christianity which extend beyond knowledge of the Old Testament. He truly wants Christians to understand the roots of Jewish skepticism of Christianity and thereby repair the relationship worldwide.

How did he get here? How does a person develop such a passion? What is his back story?

“What’s his motivation?”   Scott - Teaching With Bible

Scott is incredibly sensitive. To his surroundings. To other people. To fluorescent light.

At the start of the interview, Scott quickly moved about the room adjusting his window blinds, tinkering with the lamp, and talking with a smile. “Is this lighting okay? I just really don’t like these types of lights. I’m sorry.”

The other offices in the church building have their light switches flipped on, but Scott’s office is lit by the sunlight shining through his window and a lamp near his desk. It fits his personality because people who are sensitive to fluorescent light often dislike how it casts an unflattering glow on colors. This type of person wants the real thing—the real color—not the color reflected by fluorescent light.

As much as Scott has traveled, I wonder if fluorescent light somehow reminded Scott of the cage of a 9am to 5pm type of job. Maybe the fluorescent light is representative of the type of life he has managed to avoid. As much as he has traveled and as adventurous of a personal life that he has led, of course he prefers sunlight. He wants to be out there!

All a part of what makes this man tick.

From the start, it would appear that Scott was destined to lead a nearly textbook southern-American-protestant-Christian-mom’s apple pie-Anglo-Saxon type of life. Scott was raised in Little Rock, Arkansas. His mother was a homemaker. His father owned a construction company, and his family attended a Baptist Church.

However, in true leader form, Scott’s talents began making way for him at an early age, and he began to stand out among his peers.

Scott says he became a baptized Christian at age nine, answered the call to ministry as a teenager, and preached his first sermon at age 15 at the Baptist church in Little Rock where he grew up.  He tells me a story that he has repeated several times in the pulpit.

Scott chuckles as he recalls his first public ministering attempt: “I had written this entire 20-30 minute sermon, and I finished it in 10 minutes!”  His laughter is infectious at this point, and I start laughing, too, because Scott talks so fast.

Scott’s fast-talking is not similar to the smooth, used car salesman. He is just so excited about what he’s saying, and his mind is moving so quickly that is tongue often cannot seem to keep up with his brain. He speaks clearly, but occasionally, he gets tongue-tied and will make fun of himself for saying a word wrong before correcting it and moving on. He did this during an evening sermon I heard him deliver at Agape Church in preparation for his taking over of the pastorate. It invoked the congregation to laughter, and I was sitting one row behind his wife, Loretta, when he did it. “Oh my gosh. He just talks so fast,” I said amusingly. Loretta heard me, turned around slowly and nodded with a knowing smile as if to say: “Yes, I’ve told him this for years.”

As a matter of fact, while Scott explains the story about his 10-minute sermon, he talks fast. He still does it. No need to change what seems to be working for him so far, I guess.

His eyes are dancing at this point. I think he is glad to get a laugh out of me.  So much energy, this guy! He must have been an athlete.

“Were you involved in any sports? You have all this energy, and you seem pretty fit,” I asked while hoping to get some insight into this rare type of leader’s mindset. Scott was almost a black belt in taekwondo until his ribs were broken, but he seemed to enjoy baseball the most. Scott was a very good high school baseball player. He played pitcher and 3rd baseman and quickly notifies me that not only is the pitcher a focal point on a baseball field, but the 3rd baseman position is also known as the “hot corner” in baseball. That’s right. Scott played TWO of the most important positions on the field. Watching an athlete perform in or on the field/court/course/pool will often tell an observer about the persona of said athlete.

I’m a sports enthusiast and former college basketball player myself, so I understand the mental focus, determination, and competitiveness necessary to compete at a high level.

Scott speaks like a true competitor—still recalling play for play the day that he nearly pitched a shut-out game. He sits up in his chair and leans forward to make sure I really hear this.

“One hit. Only one hit. Right at the end of the game, one guy found my rhythm and got a hit off me, and I still regret it.”

He is serious. His entire face changed, but then that famous smile quickly returned.

In Scott’s case, the position of baseball pitcher seems to most accurately describe his individuality. It is the one position in baseball where he determines how the team moves.

“They’re waiting to see if I throw a curve or a fast pitch,” he explains. “Everyone is waiting for what the pitcher is going to do. This position and the catcher control the game. It’s all about what move you make.”

It’s not all about sports when researching the “what-makes-this-man-tick” element of Scott.

He must have made his parents very proud because he’s a dream combination of brawn and brain.

Having a love for the Bible was not enough for Scott, he wanted to know about it from a historical and intellectual level so that he could accurately understand it if he was to preach from it.

He started his undergraduate degree at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock (UALR) before transferring to The American Institute in Arkansas to study middle eastern history and received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees which he received with honors.

He received a PhD in Hebrew Studies specializing in biblical Hebrew language from the Jubilee Christian College Graduate School of Jewish-Christian Studies.  According to its site: “The focus of this Christian college program is to understand that in every area of life the foundation of all truth is found in the principles taught by the ancient Hebrew Prophets.” They even refer to Jesus by his Hebrew name, Yeshua.

Recently, Scott was inducted into the prestigious Oxford Society of Scholars as a fellow. He is now pursuing his 2nd elite degree, a Doctorate of Literature at Oxford University. The doctorate program fits Scott’s modus operandi. It is research based, and he is not required to be in class. He will have to compile and present papers and to also be peer reviewed.

Judging by his international speaking experience and depth of intelligence, it is likely that Scott will not only do this but with flying colors.

Scott believes he will write about: “Constantinian Christianity and the Curse of Cultural Relativism” thereby fulfilling a large component of his goal to educate Christians about the differences between the Hebraic roots of their religion and the Greek influence imposed upon Christianity when Constantine aimed to nearly completely rid modern-day Christianity of anything resembling its Judaic roots.

 “Change the world…No, really – change it”

Scott is 100% Christian, but he does not celebrate Easter. He calls Jesus by his Hebrew name, Yeshua, and he celebrates Chanukah.

“Say, what?!” I asked him incredulously when he said he doesn’t celebrate Easter. “That’s the entire point of being a Christian! We believe Jesus was the final sacrificial lamb for the redemption of the sins of all mankind. How are you even a Christian if you don’t celebrate Easter?” I’m seriously considering whether or not I need to change my church membership at this point in the interview. Do I want to have a pastor who does not celebrate Easter??

Scott goes on to explain: “I celebrate the resurrection. I celebrate Passover the way Yeshua—Jesus—did because He was a practicing Jew! The term ‘Easter’ is pagan and was initiated by Constantine in an effort to entirely separate the Passover celebration from Jesus’ resurrection and to drive a deeper wedge between Christians and Jews. The Easter eggs and rabbits are part of the Babylonian pagan culture.”

It turns out that Scott’s account is accurate. He is not speaking against celebrating the resurrection of Christ as Christians believe. He is against doing it under pagan premises when the entire notion behind it was driven by a hatred of the Jews.  Sadly, most Christians are not aware of this. They are not “separating themselves from Jews” by celebrating Easter. They are celebrating the resurrection of Christ, but they are not aware that so much of the celebration and the secular items surrounding it are a result of Constantine’s anti-Semitism.

www.letgodbetrue.com explains it very similarly to the way Scott explains it:

“Pagans have always got excited about spring, because they saw the sun increasing in power, animals mating, and plant life reviving. With their minds totally blinded by a holy God, they exalted animal and human fertility, reproduction, and sexual love. Goddesses of love and fertility were worshipped with spring festivals and gross immorality. The Roman Catholic Church, seeking to ‘Christianize’ the pagans, gave new names and meanings to the old pagan festivals to keep their unregenerated members happy… But Bible Christians are plainly told to reject any association with pagan religion or any religious things highly esteemed by the world. Any participation in them is spiritual adultery and highly offensive to the most high God. The Oxford English Dictionary reads, ‘Easter. The name is derived from Eostre, the name of a goddess whose festival was celebrated at the vernal equinox; her name shows that she was originally the dawn-goddess.’ Compton’s Encyclopedia reads, ‘Our name Easter comes from Eostre, an ancient Anglo-Saxon goddess, originally of the dawn. In pagan times an annual spring festival was held in her honor.’…Though the King James Bible has the word ‘Easter’ in Acts 12:4, it was used only as a synonym for the Passover, or the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was the event under consideration, as Herod waited for the right time to kill Peter and not offend the Jews (Acts 12:1-3). The OED confirms this use of “Easter” as a synonym for the Jewish Passover.”

 Most Christians recognize Easter eggs and the Easter rabbit as secular and not a part of the religious resurrection story—much like Santa Claus is secular and not related to the religious story of the birth of Jesus—but they don’t know that deliberate paganism is associated with the rabbit and the eggs during Easter.

More from www.letgodbetrue.com :

What does a rabbit with a basket of eggs have to do with Jesus Christ and His religion? Nothing! What about hot cross buns? Nothing! What about a sunrise service? Nothing! What about ham? Nothing! Encyclopedia International (1978) declares, ‘Many of the customs associated with Easter are derived from various spring fertility rites of the pagan religions which Christianity supplanted.’ The Catholic Encyclopedia declares, ‘A great many pagan customs celebrating the return of spring gravitated to Easter.’… Why are children taught that Peter Cottontail has a basket of eggs? Do rabbits lay eggs? Of course not! Rabbits are an obvious symbol of fertility and reproduction, for they are known for their short gestation and large litters… The Catholic Encyclopedia reads, ‘The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility.’ Encyclopedia International (1978) reads, ‘The Easter rabbit, legendary producer of Easter eggs, was also a symbol of fertility and new life.’ ”

 WOW. At this point, I am rotating between staring at Scott as these facts tumble out of his mouth at rapid speed and trying to type fast enough to keep up with what he’s saying.

“So, you’re actually going to tell a group of Christians in the American South that we aren’t going to say ‘Happy Easter’ anymore?”

“It’ll be ‘Happy Resurrection Day’ “,  Scott answers. It appears that Agape has already said something similar in the past, but most members definitely don’t know all of this history.

“We’re going to celebrate Chanukah, too.”

Say what?

Scott has now stood up and started pacing the room. His voice is elevated like he’s conducting a doctorate-level lecture. He explains that in the tenth chapter of the Book of John in the Bible, it is clearly recorded that Jesus came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Dedication which is Chanukah.

“Everything Jesus did had purpose,” Scott said. “He did what His Father told him. What was significant about Chanukah that had Jesus celebrate it? Where did they get the design for the menorah? God told them to build the candelabra–the menorah that way. How did they get to this image? It progressed from an image of the tree of life and before that the bush in the desert—the one that Moses saw on fire—a menorah bush!”

Scott is all over the office, now. He’s pulling books out of his bookcase and flipping through his files to find photos. He flashes several photos of a tree that looks like the menorah. As the menorah design progresses in the photos, it looks at one point like the shape of a Christmas tree.

“Why do we put lights on a Christmas tree? Think about it,” he continues. “The original Chanukah happened on Kislev 25th. It’s always on the 25th of the Jewish month because God said to base it off of the moon which is why Chanukah does not fall on the same day each year. Pope Gregory in the 1500’s developed the Gregorian calendar, based it on the sun, and declared that New Year’s Day is on January 1st   following the model of Augustus Caesar. However, the Jews kept the Hebrew biblical calendar which is why our modern-day Christian calendar and their calendar no longer mesh.”

This is deep.

I keep wondering how in the world Scott will convince Agape members that many religious rituals they’ve been practicing for their entire lives and what their parents and their parents before that did were also based on inaccuracies.

“They just have to let me teach them,” Scott insists. “I truly believe that once they hear the truth behind these holidays, they’ll understand. I’m not saying not to celebrate the resurrection or the birth of Yeshua—Jesus. I’m saying that we have to do it the right way, and we owe much more respect to our Hebraic roots. We as Christians have been disrespecting our Jewish brothers and sisters and at the same time disrespecting God’s order, and we don’t even know it! What I want to get at is that the foundation of what we do is Jewish. In order to go forward, we have to first go backwards. We have to go back to why we do what we do and why we believe what we believe.”

I express a high level of skepticism and even some doubt that Scott could pull this off in traditional, Christian Arkansas—the heart of the known “Bible belt” in America. Even if he is right, he is cutting right at the heart of what most Christians believe. Easter and Christmas are the top two holidays, and he doesn’t even want to use the word Easter while adding Chanukah to Christmas.

His response?

In a passionate voice that should have its own soundtrack, Scott mounts his verbal soapbox. “What bothers me is when you know truth and you don’t practice it. Why study truth and then not apply it? Why stay ignorant in what you are doing? I just don’t get it. If you know the truth and don’t practice it, then it does not set you free.”

“The Solution”  

The solution to confusion is truth.

Scott wants to set the religious record straight between two of the world’s major religions, and HERE IS WHERE I FINALLY UNDERSTAND THIS MAN’S MISSION. He wants to change the world! No, really…He wants to COMPLETELY change the way things are done.

Can anyone imagine the religious revolution that would happen in the world if Christians could understand why Jews view them so skeptically and if Jews saw Christians making stronger and more sincere attempts to respect their religion? Can the impact in Western world be fathomed if Jewish people understood that Christians respect the Hebraic faith as the foundation of Christianity and not the bane of its existence?

Now that I feel like I know Scott’s mission, I ask him: “What is the main reason, in your opinion, for the tensions between Jews and Christians?”

He answers: “I believe it is a fundamental misunderstanding of each other. This has a history to it. Jews believe the Holocaust was a Christian event. It wasn’t, but it is perceived that way. The Catholic Church had the Inquisition and the Crusades. And here is what needs to be cleared up: those are Catholic events and not Christian events. Many Jews cannot distinguish the difference between Catholicism as an ideology and the Christian faith as whole. It’s just as wrong to judge Orthodox Jews by what the Reform Jews do. Many Orthodox Jews don’t even view Reform Jews as Jews anymore.”

This is not to say that modern-day Catholics are anti-Semitic, but everything should be put into its proper historical perspective.

The main perception that Scott would like to debunk about Christians is the notion that Christians want to reject the law.

“I was meeting with former president of the Jewish Federation of Arkansas last week. He said he’d never read the New Testament, and he also did not know that ‘Christ’ is not Jesus’ last name. I explained that Jesus’ Hebrew name is Yeshua, and I also told him that Jesus was a rabbi. He did not know. He didn’t know any of this.”

This memory is still fresh with Scott, and he’s shaking his head a little as he continues: “Judaism doesn’t allow for or encourage their people to pursue any knowledge of Christianity. Therefore, there is always going to be a lack of understanding between us. Christianity, on the other hand, has the Old Testament—which I call the Hebrew scriptures to make sure not to sound offensive. We have the entire first half of our religious book dedicated to the Hebrew scriptures, so we have access to it all the time. The Jews do not have anything referencing the New Testament, so they simply have little or no knowledge of any of it.”

Scott believes the burden is on Christians—not Jews–to close the gap of misunderstanding.

He has a list of things that he believes Christians can do better: “They can read their scriptures through Jewish eyes because the only way that the scripture can really be understood is through the context that it was written. Yeshua—Jesus–was a rabbi and not a Greek philosopher. If you put the wrong eyes on a Jewish text, you are going to create a concept that doesn’t exist. When the news of Yeshua went out from Israel, it was distorted from its original form. A lot of people make a big deal out of when the first Christians were called Christians in Antioch. It’s because they spoke Greek there. That’s the only reason why they were called Christians. If we’d go back to the origins, we would drop the celebration of Easter in favor of celebrating Passover. We’d celebrate Chanukah as well as Christmas. We need to put all of these in the right perspective.”

Scott plans to practice what he preaches. He wants to bring the “Night to Celebrate Israel” that he did in Scotland to Agape Church in Little Rock, and he recently issued an invite to the new Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer.

Currently, there are only five states in the union that require Holocaust education in K-12 public schools. Scott would like to push for legislation that would require Arkansas schools to teach it.

Initiatives like this are partially why Scott appears to be the ideal successor to Happy Caldwell as the incoming pastor of Agape Church. Happy currently sits on the board of CUFI and is internationally known among religious circles as a pro-Israel advocate.

Scott no longer considers himself a Baptist and became a member of the non-denominational Agape Church 30 years ago at age 18 under Pastor Happy Caldwell’s leadership. Happy told Scott that he had prayed for the same anointing to be on Scott as is on him.

His words to the teenaged Scott turned out to be prophetic. After 40 total years in the ministry and 35 years of pastoring Agape Church, Happy is stepping away from the pastorate and handing it over to Scott whom he considers a “spiritual son”—exactly 30 years after that conversation.

Scott and his wife, Loretta, will soon be welcoming a new grandson from their daughter,  McKenzie Burke, who has decided to name him Israel.

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