Pastor, civil rights activist delivers final sermon

Pastor, civil rights activist delivers final sermon at Canaan Baptist

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The congregation packed the pews to hear his final message to the masses. The congregation packed the pews to hear his final message to the masses.
Civil rights activist and beloved reverend Harold Middlebrook delivered his final sermon at Canaan Baptist Church of Christ Sunday. Civil rights activist and beloved reverend Harold Middlebrook delivered his final sermon at Canaan Baptist Church of Christ Sunday.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Civil rights activist and beloved reverend Harold Middlebrook delivered his final sermon at Canaan Baptist Church of Christ Sunday. 

Middlebrook is retiring after 53 years at the pulpit.

The congregation packed the pews to hear his final message to the masses. Although he's retiring from a career, the past 34 years of which he's spent at Canaan, Middlebrook never viewed his role as a job.

"When you enjoy doing what you're doing, you have fun doing it," Middlebrook said. "It's been a good experience for me. It's been a glorious experience and I'm really grateful to God for the opportunity to do it."

While the 71-year-old, well known for his civil rights activism alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., says it's hard to end this chapter, but he feels like it's time.

Church members say they are sad to see him go, but feel blessed to have his legacy to grow on. One member told us Middlebrook is a person who reaches out, not to some, but to every member of the congregation. 

Middlebrook says he hopes the next generation of leaders can fill the place he leaves and grow new hope. 

"Each of us serve our season. We bring people to a certain level and then it becomes somebody else's responsibility," he said. "So I want to get out of the way and let God do His thing and send a younger person."

Middlebrook went on to say he talks to young people who have chosen the ministry as a way of life because of him. That, he says, gives him true fulfillment in life. 

Middlebrook said, pulling from an old hymn, "If I help somebody as I pass along, then my living shall not be in vain."

This, his lifelong motto, gives him comfort as he closes this door.

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