Three months following the passing of his beloved father Reverend Lee Mason Jr., Rev. Jonathan A. Mason, Sr. has been appointed senior pastor of the historic Northeast Baptist Church in Philadelphia, PA.
Assuming the pastoralship of the community cornerstone this past Sunday, with an official installation ceremony planned for the spring, Mason brings a powerful new voice and decades of organizational and leadership experience into the esteemed position. The International President of the historically Black fraternity Phi Beta Sigma, Inc. says he is proud to accept the torch from his father and excited to continue executing his vision for Northeast Baptist.
“The church moved very slowly to fill the position of senior pastor,” explains Mason. “My father has left a large shadow being a great pastor for 41 years. I’m overwhelmed by the trust that Northeast has placed in me and I’m even more excited by the challenges ahead. ‘If God is for us, who can be against us’,” he cites, quoting Romans8:31.
Through his work as one of the nation’s leading African American sales executives in radio, Mason brings more than 20 years of corporate skills to the position and is currently Director of Sales for New York City’s WABC and WNBM radio stations. Such a diverse background is important, as the elder Mason left big shoes to fill: a celebrated civil rights leader who marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. during his more than 40 years presiding over Northeast Baptist, he inspired generations of prominent pastors to include Pennsylvania State Representative and radio personality Rev. Louise Williams Bishop, the Rev. Sarah Hyman, the late Rev. F.L. Donaldson and late Rev. Michael Edwards.
Mason steps into the pulpit at Northeast Baptist at an exciting and pivotal time. “My dad was the ‘People’s Pastor’,” Mason says of the senior theologian. “He truly cared for his congregation. As a church we will continue to be a family that cares about the socioeconomic conditions of the people in our church and in the community,” he vowed.
Mason’s efforts coincide with transformative work he’s doing within the greater African American community. Last year Phi Beta Sigma partnered with the White House on its landmark initiative My Brother’s Keeper. Through I Am My Brother’s Keeper, the fraternity’s official response to President Obama’s call-to-action, Phi Beta Sigma—with support from the March of Dimes and other national charities — has pledged to help transform the lives of thousands of Black men and boys and their families for generations to come through the execution of a comprehensive 10-point plan. The unprecedented plan includes providing $1 million dollars in scholarships to Black men; training and educating 5,000 Black men to be better fathers; and targeting congressional leaders in at least 10 states to support legislation around gun control and addressing police brutality.
It also coincides with the work he’s doing on his own time. Since 2013, the husband and father of two young sons has invested in Camp New Joy, a spiritually guided retreat in rural Virginia designed to help improve the lives of thousands of Black and Brown boys. As founder and chairman of the board Mason has been hard at work raising funds to continue building on the more than 20-acre property. Destined to become the nation’s first 100-percent free camp for at-risk boys and teens ages 10 to 17, his goal is to partner with churches, schools, fellow fraternities, sororities and other community services organizations to identify youth and pull them out of the inner city and into the countryside. There they will have the opportunity to work with trained teachers and mentors in workshops aimed at building self-esteem, personal confidence and interpersonal skills.
Click HERE to listen to President Mason on Imus in the Morning on WABC Radio speak about the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, and what Phi Beta Sigma plans to do in the community.