by Pastor Geoffrey V. Guns, senior Pastor of the Second Calvary Baptist Church in Norfolk, Virginia since June 26, 1983
The cornerstone of the Black community is the Church. It’s a place of community, family, and fellowship that goes beyond our shared collective faith. It acts as a support system for those in need and offers bonds and relationships that are lifelong. One of the servants that we’ve seen grow up in the church is Delegate Angelia Williams Graves. Her father, Pastor I Joseph Williams, was a servant in his own right – mentoring many of us in our relationship with God but also always there to support his church family and the surrounding communities. As Angelia readies herself to take the next step in her service to the people of Virginia and our region, we cannot help but think of her late-father as we write to proudly vocalize our enthusiastic support of her campaign for State Senate.
As pastors, we have been around to see all types of elected officials. Those who show up when convenient or when it’s close to Election time and those who never fade from serving their constituents, many of which are our parishioners in our churches. Angelia embodies that year-round service that we hope all elected officials strive to do. She shows up. She listens. And she has always carried the voices and lived experiences of those around her, whether it be into the City Council chambers in Norfolk, now into the halls of the People’s House in Richmond, or soon to be in the Senate Chamber.
She uniquely is suited to represent us in the Senate because she understands the plight of so many in the communities we serve. Born and raised in Norfolk, Angelia didn’t come from privilege. Her background and upbringing is a familiar one held by many Norfolk residents. Educated in public schools, a student of Tidewater Community College and Old Dominion Universe, a former city employee, and self-made small business owner, Angelia very easily could have not chosen a path of elected service, but the fact that she did speaks to the heart of who she is as a person and we are all lucky to have her.
Representation matters. It matters that the children of Norfolk can see one of their own rise through the ranks of State Government and be in some of the most important rooms in the Commonwealth. It matters that Angelia shares a story similar to theirs. And it matters that they see themselves in Angelia. We have had the unique opportunity to be small parts of her life, and we can think of nobody better to be our next State Senator than Angelia Williams Graves.
Pastor Geoffrey V. Guns
Pastor Guns is submitting this op-ed upon the endorsement of more than three dozen Black ministers and pastors for Delegate Angelia Williams Graves’ campaign for State Senate.