Religion

Pastor who died from accidental gunshot wound will be succeeded by his son

The Rev. Phillip RJ Davis will be installed Friday as senior pastor of Nations Ford Community Church, a congregation founded by his late father, Bishop Phillip Davis.
The Rev. Phillip RJ Davis will be installed Friday as senior pastor of Nations Ford Community Church, a congregation founded by his late father, Bishop Phillip Davis. Courtesy of Nations Ford Community Church

The Charlotte pastor who died in August from an accidental gunshot wound will be succeeded in the pulpit by his son.

The Rev. Phillip RJ Davis will be installed Friday night as the new senior pastor of Nations Ford Community Church – a congregation that his father, Bishop Phillip Davis, led for 36 years.

Prior to his father’s death, the younger Davis had been pastor of the church's Ballantyne campus.

The Union County sheriff’s department said that Bishop Davis, who was 62, was cleaning his pistol at his home in Weddington on Aug. 29 when it accidentally fired, striking him in the chest.

Nations Ford Community Church released a statement Tuesday saying that Phillip RJ Davis – better known to members as Pastor RJ – “is the person desired” by his father and mother, Cynthia Davis, “to be elevated to the office of senior pastor.”

He received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from UNC Charlotte, and has a master of divinity degree from Talbot School of Theology in LaMirada, Calif. He recently founded the Lead Charlotte Group, a movement created, the church said, “to empower a new generation for community leadership.”

Bishop Davis had a high profile in Charlotte’s faith community. Among other things, he founded the Male Leadership Academy, a Christian school at his church for boys in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Unlike most black Baptist churches, Nations Ford Community Church is affiliated with the mostly white Southern Baptist Convention. In the late 1990s, Bishop Davis was elected first vice president of the conservative Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

In 1996, Bishop Davis told the Observer that he entered the ministry after his son, RJ, fell mysteriously ill in 1978, when he was 2. Davis said he interpreted his son’s sickness and recovery as a life-changing event and as a call from God to become a preacher.

RJ Davis later followed his father into the clergy. And during a celebratory gathering at 7 p.m. Friday, he will be installed as the new leader of Nations Ford Community Church, 5910 Nations Ford Road.

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