Name: Pastor Gillette O. James
Gillette O. James became a part of Beth Eden in January 1970 when we elected him Assistant Pastor and Minister of Christian Education. At that time he was a senior at American Baptist Seminary of the West (ABSW). He had just resigned from the Grace Baptist Church of San Francisco where he had served for six years, as pastor, because he wanted to study full-time.
Within a few months, Pastor A. C. Dones retired after fifteen Beth Eden years and recommended that his Assistant succeed him. The church went through the formality of appointing a Pulpit Committee headed by a young attorney who was a deacon. Our new pastor’s term was effective March 1971.
Dr. Gillette O. James was born in Dominica, West Indies. He met his wife, Rosa V. James, from the Bahamas in Cincinnati, Ohio where both had studied and he heard about her through a newspaper article in the Cincinnati Enquirer about foreign students spending their first Christmas in the U.S.
Our pastor is a graduate of University of San Francisco and was at the head of his seminary class for the Master of Divinity degree. He later earned the Doctor of Ministry from the same seminary where he is a former chair of Trustees and currently heads the Academic Committee. Dr. James has done further studies at Oxford, England. His wife, also a graduate of University of San Francisco, received the Master of Social Work (MSW) from the University of California-Berkeley and the Doctor of Education from Nova Southeastern University in Florida. She has been a social worker for City and County of San Francisco, school psychologist, principal and administrator in the Oakland Public Schools. Dr. Rosa James is very active in the Beth Eden church Women’s Ministries , Board of Christian Education, Counseling Ministry as well as Executive Committee of the Family Life Center architectural committee.
Under the leadership of our pastor, Beth Eden built fifty-four units of senior housing (the idea of the former pastor) and purchased other rental housing near the church. We built a new sanctuary and administrative wing and after much prayer, investigation and discussions with the ministries of the church, our pastor led us into hiring an architect for the proposed new Family Life Center.... He has spotlighted education and our Scholarship Committee awards partial financial scholarships every year to high school graduates and continuing college students. Presently we have ten students in seminary.
Pastor James has held impressive positions with denominational boards locally and nationally. At one point he was ousted from the California State Baptist Convention because he supported women in ministry. He has since been restored because the Convention while not fully accepting, has been willing to keep churches that fully recognize women clergy.
Both Dr. James and his wife travel annually to the Caribbean as well as to conventions and vacation spots world-wide. Both pastor and wife individually or together lead seminars and accept speaking engagements at home and abroad. They have sponsored many relatives to study and or live in the United States. Their daughter, a graduate of University of California-San Diego and of Rutgers (in urban planning) lives in Washington DC with her husband and four year old son, who like his mother speaks Spanish and is learning Chinese, and twin boys fifteen months old.
Our pastor continues to encourage the church to embrace peoples of different races and theological viewpoints. He believes strongly in the old hymns of the church, spirituals which he maintains keeps us conscious and appreciative of our heritage, and current music which speaks to a younger generation. His favorite saying, gleaned from his deceased father who was both a pastor and police officer is: “God’s clock keeps perfect time.”
He is also publicly appreciative of his elected board and staff for their hard work and willingness to share the pastor’s vision.