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Frederick Sampson

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Sampson, Frederick (1928-2001)

Reverend Frederick Sampson was minister of the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church from 1971 to 2001. He was nationally renowned for his eloquent sermons and dedication to civil rights.

Frederick Sampson was in 1928 in Port Arthur, Texas. He earned two bachelor's degrees from Bishop College in Marshall, Texas. He first served as a minister at the College Hill Baptist Church in Texarkana, Arkansas before moving on to become associate pastor at the Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. in 1950. He completed medical school at Howard University but before completing residency training he decided to enter the ministry. He went on to earn an M.A. in Divinity from Howard University and a Doctorate in Divinity from the Virginia Theological Seminary. In 1953 he went to serve as senior pastor at the High Street Baptist Church in Roanoke, Virginia. In 1960 he became senior pastor at the Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. While in Louisville he earned a M.A. in Christian Education from the University of Louisville. In 1962 Sampson was arrested while leading protests against segregation in Louisville. In 1965 he helped Martin Luther King, Jr. organize the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. In 1971 he came to Detroit to pastor Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church.

As pastor of the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, Sampson's sermons were legendary. He was known for delivering scholarly sermons in a traditional Baptist tradition and combined a strong sense of social justice with teachings from his faith. Sampson became politically powerful without using his pulpit directly to advocate political positions. He never allowed any local or national politicians to campaign from his pulpit, insisting, for example, that the Revered Jesse Jackson adhere to his religious sermon when Jackson preached at Tabernacle in 1986. Many observers credited his restriction on politicizing the pulpit for the growth of his prestige and his ability to influence political events outside his church. He worked behind the scenes as a board member in several organizations including New Detroit, Inc. to further the civil rights struggle.

He also served as president of the Detroit chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Under Sampson?s leadership, Tabernacle established numerous community service programs including assistance to families in need, help to those in need of employment and training, drug counseling, and support for education. Any needy family can get a meal and clothing from the church. In the late 1980s the church was serving upwards of 400 meals a day to senior citizens and providing employment services to over 100 people a year. Sampson convinced Wayne County Community College to open a campus extension in the church. He also held an annual conference on African-American male spirituality that attracted over 1000 participants each year. Sampson also spread his message through an annual national speaking tour during which he held more than 20 revivals each year.

In 1984 and 1993 Ebony Magazine recognized Reverend Sampson as one of the 15 Greatest Black Preachers in American.


Crumm, David. "Detroit Pastor is ?A Hidden Force": Baptist Shuns Politics, Gains Power." Detroit Free Press. March 8, 1987.

May, Jeanne. "Rev. Frederick Sampson: Eloquent Baptist Pastor." Detroit Free Press. October 12, 2001.

Ross, Julie. "Reverend Frederick G. Sampson: 1928 ? 2001." Detroit Free Press. October 18, 2001.



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