BARRY WILLIAMS knew from an early age that he wanted to preach the Gospel.
He was a young member of Cornerstone Baptist Church, in Philadelphia, when he felt the call. After studying for the ministry and serving as a highly regarded pastor and radio preacher in Virginia, he came back to Philadelphia and became pastor of New Inspirational Baptist Church, on Germantown Avenue at Cayuga Street.
Both he and his family worked to promote the church's development and involvement with the community.
Barry J. Williams Sr., who was also active with ministers' groups, community organizations and Democratic politics, died Saturday after a lengthy illness. He was 60 and lived in Nicetown.
"Dr. Williams was a very humble man and a pleasure to be around," his family said. "Always giving and willing to give of himself. Often you would see him around the city, walking and talking with someone who needed help and advice."
He was born in Philadelphia to Sally and James Williams Sr. He graduated from Simon Gratz High School and went to Howard University. He attended Virginia Union University and graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary in Lynchburg in 1973.
Williams also attended the former Crozer Theological Seminary in Upland, Delaware County, where Martin Luther King Jr. received his religious education.
He was ordained in 1968 by the late Rev. Harold O. Davis, at Cornerstone Baptist, and served as pastor of both the New Vine Baptist Church and the C Street Baptist Church, in Lynchburg, Va. During his tenure at the two churches, membership increased, building extensions were constructed and a broadcast ministry was established.
He was a religious commentator on Station WJJS in Lynchburg.
In 1973, he became pastor of the First Baptist Church in Harrisonburg, Va., serving until 1977.
That year, he returned to Philadelphia as pastor of New Inspirational Baptist Church, where family members joined him in his ministry.
"They opened their hearts, home and the church to everyone," his family wrote in an obituary.
Williams also became active in the community, and served as a Democratic committeeman in the 13th Ward.
He received many honors in his career, including the Outstanding Black Preacher Award, Community Christian Fellowship Institute Award, Radio Pastor of the Year Award and Theological Student Masters Award. He was included in Who's Who of Afro-American Preachers in 1974.
He served on several community boards, including those of the Human Relations Commission, Opportunities Industrialization Center, YMCA, Nicetown Boys and Girls Club, Citizens Congress of Nicetown, NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Williams was well-known in the Baptist denomination for his willingness to give young preachers a chance at the pulpit. He also ordained several of them.
He was a past president of the Baptist Pastors Conference of Philadelphia and Vicinity and a member of the Evening Ministers Conference and the Christian Fellowship Ministers Conference of Philadelphia and Vicinity.
He is survived by his parents; his wife, Nancy; two daughters, the Rev. DeShawnda Sutherland and Tanya Williams; three sons, the Rev. Barry J. Jr., Jonathan and Taikwan; a brother, James; a sister, Marquita, and six grandchildren.