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Preacher with a Big Voice: Family and friends gather to remember Rev. Lincoln Montgomery

Courtesy photo

Rev. Lincoln Montgomery died earlier this month at the age of 72. He was the long-time pastor of Wichita's Tabernacle Bible Church.

Services for Rev. Lincoln Montgomery will be held Friday and Saturday. Montgomery died earlier this month at the age of 72. He had recently retired after 35 years of ministry.
He was the long-time pastor of Wichita's Tabernacle Bible Church, formally named Tabernacle Baptist. It was once known for being the largest Black Baptist church in Kansas. KMUW's Carla Eckels brings us this remembrance from family and friends.

Dr. Arthur DeHart, a childhood friend of Lincoln Montgomery, grew up in the same neighborhood

"I learned early on that this was a young guy that I was always gonna enjoy. We rode our bikes together as kids, we roller skated. We did just about everything together, basketball, baseball — you name it, we did it."

Cherrie Dennis Baldon, Rev. Montgomery's sister-in-law, knew there was something special about her sister's husband

"I was a little girl. And I remember when he pulled up and we were looking, we'd never seen anybody like him before. He had a huge Afro and he actually looked like one of the Black Panthers [chuckle]. That's what we thought. But I thought he was so cool.

"[My sister Annie would] be in that mirror singing about him. And there was a song, my sister she [sang], 'Lincoln's the guy who appeals to my eye and makes my interest in all other guys stop.'

"It had verses. She went on and on ... 'I'm so in love with my Lincoln and you can't have him.'

"I was like, wow, she loves this guy. And so, watching that, I knew there was something special about him.

"In the days when [Annie] was working full time and she had the children, Jamai and Jareau, he would cook. He loved it so much that he did all the cooking, every day, and she did the cleaning."

Rev. Roosevelt "Buck" DeShazer

"I heard him preach and the spirit moved on me then. I had my whole family; we got up and we joined the church from the first Sunday we attended Tabernacle. It was an awesome experience. I walked along Pastor Montgomery for 15 years. He was a mentor. He was a father. He was a big brother to me. He taught me the ins and outs of ministry."

Dr. DeHart, who became a deacon under Rev. Montgomery's leadership, talks about how the church addressed the COVID-19 pandemic and his preaching style

"Lincoln relied on me, my daughter Reagan — who's also a physician, and Dr. Maurice Duggins — who's in our congregation. He brought us in, we sat down together and we formulated a plan of what we should do to be responsible. It was a church thing, but it was also a community thing.

"I have done some research on sermon presentations and as I retrospectively look at him and his preaching style, he had it. He really had it. He could reach the whole spectrum of humankind in the congregation. He could relate to the person off the street, the child, the elderly, and he would reach out to them in his oration in such a way that they were drawn to God's word. And he was really an anointed preacher."

Steven Jones — Former minister of music at Tabernacle

"I had the privilege of traveling with pastor Montgomery, and that was a blessing. The people in Africa had a nickname for pastor Montgomery. They would call him the preacher with the big voice. And when you preached, you didn't preach no 15 minutes sermon because they done came miles and miles walking to hear the word of God and so they were serious about the ministry, and it was so wonderful to see that.

"[One day] I told him ... there's things about his voice, that when he was softer and his voice dropped because he had a very deep voice, especially when he talks soft, I said, 'it was like, comfort of God.'"

Carla Eckels is Director of Organizational Culture at KMUW. She produces and hosts the R&B and gospel show Soulsations and brings stories of race and culture to The Range with the monthly segment In the Mix. Carla was inducted into The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2020 for her work in broadcast/journalism.