Pastor Darrell Fairer is a licensed and ordained minister and pastor of Greater Faith Bible Tabernacle in Buffalo, NY. Since December of 1995, he has traveled the US and abroad sharing God’s Word.
In addition to pastoring and itinerant ministry, Pastor Fairer humbly shares his ministerial experience with those he mentors and serves. He serves as the General Secretary of the New York Pennsylvania and New England States Council of the Pentecostal Churches of Apostolic Faith. During the 59th Holy Convocation of the PCAF in the summer of 2016, Pastor was confirmed as a District Elder. Called to pastor, preach and teach but anointed to serve, Pastor Fairer enjoys seeing lives changed for the better because of the power of the Word of God.
Pastor Fairer has been married to Lady Sherea Fairer since October 1997. Together they are the proud parents of two beautiful daughters Lauryn and Monique. The Fairers reside in Williamsville, NY.
Charles Clark: First off, thank you for the interview. Thank you for taking out the time. I know that you are busy and I really appreciate it.
Darrell Fairer: Well, thank you so much. I’m honored to participate. I’m honored to be included and I appreciate you even asking.
CC: I appreciate that. The first question’s really easy… Well, I think it’s easy and I like the question a great deal. Who is Darrell Fairer?
DF: Well, Darrell is a 40-year old, African American male. I grew up in church; I don’t apologize for that. It made me a portion of who I am. My wife and I have been married for 16 years. We have two daughters… But Darrell is very, very simple. I kinda stay to myself; I’m more of an introvert. Ministry, however, kinda puts you in front of people and I’ve learned – I’m still learning – how to be comfortable being in front of people. When I tell people that I’m shy by nature and then they see me in the pulpit, they can’t mix the two, but that’s the kind of person that I am… I enjoy the fellowship of the saints, but I am very, very simple. I love God. I love helping God’s people. I love seeing lives change through the power of the word of God. I love to have fun. I love to joke and to laugh, particularly with other brothers and sisters in the Lord.
CC: What prompted your move to Buffalo?
DF: Well, my pastor – who I extremely honor, Bishop Lambert Gates, released my wife and I from Indianapolis to Fort Wayne, Indiana to start a church there called Destiny fellowship Church. We were there and just plowing away. You know, we had the vision of God in our hearts and doing what the Lord called us to do there in the city. Bishop Holton was a great friend to my pastor. Pastor Gates has been coming to the Buffalo area to Faith Bible Tabernacle for over 25 years. And when Bishop Holton passed, Bishop [Gates] was assigned to assist the church in staying encouraged while they were sending preachers through… To encourage the saints and helping them through the process of finding another pastor… August 2006, my pastor called me and said, “I need to send you to Buffalo.” I said all right but he didn’t say anything else beyond that. I had known of Bishop Holton but I’d never had the opportunity to hold a conversation with him or anything like that. So Bishop said that he wanted me to come and help keep the saints encouraged but nothing about being the pastor; nothing about being part of the process and I wasn’t thinking in that regard. We had just physically moved to Fort Wayne so I wasn’t looking to go anywhere at all. Then, October 2006, my pastor called me and told me he needed me to minister on a Sunday… It happened to be the Sunday before the October Storm… And the congregation took a liking to us and invited us to be a part of the process of the candidacy for that church. That November, they asked us to come back and to bring my family. We did that, we interviewed in November 2006; the church voted in the early part of December 2006 and in the middle of the month, I found out that they had selected me to become the pastor. It was a difficult transition for us because our church [in Fort Wayne] was young – we started the church – and so we were very, very close to the people. But we had always taught the church to understand destiny; to understand the call of God on your life… We assumed the pastor hood of Faith Bible Tabernacle on Watch Night, December 31, 2006 and by God’s grace, we’ve been there ever since.
CC: And how has that transition been for you: to go from a smaller church to a church that has been well established over a number of years? And to come into a situation where a bishop was well beloved?
DF: I don’t know if I can honestly say that we’ve made it completely through the transition. I think the bulk of the transition is mostly complete but it was difficult to make that transition from Fort Wayne to Buffalo. Bishop Holton had pastured the church for the better part of 25 years as the founder. They had not known any pastor other than Bishop Holton. So, they knew his leadership style, his preaching style, his teaching style… They knew his heart – for the ministry and for the people of God and for the city… And so, coming in and I’m 20-something years his junior, it was a transition between his leadership style [and] my leadership style… Trying to forge ahead relationships and it was difficult because my family – my wife, my daughters and I – has no blood relatives in the entire state of New York. So, leaving Fort Wayne and coming to New York, to Buffalo, was a daunting task because we had to develop relationships, not just in the church for the church’s sake, but just for the sake of relationships… Having others that are part of our lives… It was difficult trying to learn the church; having the church learn me… By God’s grace and God’s mercy, six and a half years later now, we are still moving towards the vision God had given to the bishop and God has allowed us to expand upon that a bit. We have relationships within the church… The church now, I believe, knows my heart for the ministry, for the people, for the city and that we have a Kingdom mandate upon our lives to help others.
CC: You have continued to speak about the community, which I think is so important. How have you evolved? How did you get to know the community, particularly since you are not from the community? When you became the pastor of Faith Bible Tabernacle, how did you begin the process of becoming part of the community at large?
DF: Well, it’s interesting because the founder, Bishop Holton, was not originally from Buffalo himself. He and his family moved from Cleveland, OH to Buffalo; consequently, starting the church in 1981 after being in Buffalo for some time. This is the second round of an outsider looking in, so to speak. As I said before, I’m shy by nature but ministry puts me in front of people and to be honest, the desire to help people forced me to get involved in the community because you really can’t help people if you don’t go where they are and get a glimpse of where they are. That, in and of itself on a personal level, has not been the easiest thing for me because I have a certain inclination to be a loner; but I want to help as well, so it was not an easy task for me. But I saw that there was a need to be a blessing beyond the pulpit to the people that I pastor. I began to take note of some of the things that were needed in the community. Our church, for the better part of 30 years, is located on the East Side of Buffalo and we’ve noticed some things over the years where we could, by God’s help, make a difference.
I say that you can tell the vision of a church two ways: God speaks to the leader; the leader speaks to the people and says this is the direction that we’re going in… But I also believe you can tell the vision of the church by the people that God send to that church because they come with a skill set… Just like Jesus and his disciples were busy doing something; they already had a skill set, they already had something to do; they were already trained in a particular area when God to Jesus to use them. The people at Faith Bible Tabernacle are no different; they have other skill sets; some work in various areas. I began to notice, the Lord showed me, that seemingly, we always have had – in the history of our church – educators and those that work in the areas of health. So after noticing that, I began to say that these individuals are here for a reason and maybe we can galvanize these skill sets and then take them out into the community. We moved intentionally outside of the four walls of the church… to go in and to assist.
CC: What do you feel are the major issues of the community at-large, right now?
DF: Well, right now, particularly in the city of Buffalo – on the East side of Buffalo – the violent crime rate is far too high. The census tells us that in the 14215 [zip] code, that for violent crimes and STD’s, teen pregnancy…. A lot of things in the 14215 zip code, we rank higher than some of the areas across the state and even on a national level. So, from a health standpoint, there’s a need for education: educating young parents; educating teens on how to take care of themselves and take better care of themselves. From the crime standpoint, we’ve noticed that the crime is too high. Sometimes, it’s because people feel as if they have nothing to do. Seemingly, when the weather breaks and the temperature rises, the crime rate – the violent crime rate – rises. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. Let me say this: As a church, we don’t see ourselves as the answer to everything [wrong] in our community but we do seem to make a positive imprint in our community in the areas of health and education in addition to salvation and discipleship. The mission of our church is to find answers to mankind’s problems that lead to abundant living. We don’t do it in every area because we don’t want to spread ourselves so thin that we’re not effective. Those are the glaring things to me.
CC: Wow. What do you think is the state of the Black male? Where do you think we are now, particularly, in light of cases like Trayvon Martin … and other cases just like his all over the country that are happening? Do you think that we are in a state of hopelessness?
DF: Well, Interesting question. I actually do believe that there is a sense of hopelessness within the African American male community. There are many bright spots – our President being one of them – if we can find them and notice them and celebrate them. However, when the verdict came out in the Trayvon Martin case, I kept reading over and over again this sense of see, here we go again… they don’t really like us…they don’t really value us… here’s another example of us being mistreated… here’s another example of racism… Because we have such a track record of travesty on top of travesty on top of miscarriage of justice and things of that nature, it kinda settles into the psyche. There is a sense of hopelessness. That’s why I believe that the church has to be a voice – and men’s ministries within churches have to be a voice – of encouragement. The brothers need to hear that God can deliver; that God can really bring about a change in your life, if you follow His plan and if you follow His word. But there is a sense of hopelessness, nationwide. Across the country, African American men are in prison at far greater rates than any other group, seemingly. There is a sense of hopelessness and that there’s nothing really out there and so some make the poor decision of hustling just to make ends meet and to provide for their families. The fate of our country and our city and of the East Side of Buffalo rests at the feet of men because men have been ordained by God to be heads, to be leaders… in the home. All of our problems I believe can be traced back to the home. If men are not present and men are not doing what they are supposed to do and what they are designed to do, you have what we have now: a lot of our men are jailed; a lot of our men are in prison; so they are absent from the home and mom is left trying to do everything on her own. When you see that over and over again, played out in the hearts and the minds of other African American men, there’s a sense of not really having the ability to achieve. So, you have generational poverty that takes place. But I am encouraged because in our church and churches all over the country, God has saved and delivered African American men who have been through what these young guys are going through now and we have proof that this thing called Christianity and faith in God works. Some may disagree, but while there is a sense of hopelessness, I am encouraged as a pastor and spiritual leader in the community that it doesn’t have to stay that way and we are trying to galvanize our men so that we can become another voice of change and another voice of encouragement.
CC: Do you think that’s what it will take? For those who come from a different experience, what can we do? How can we get more of our Black men involved, period?
DF : I think our society is result-driven. If you are not gonna get any results – and you don’t have any results – people are not gonna listen to you. We’re conditioned to listen to people who have results. One of the things that will get [other] men involved is that men have to open up their mouths and tell their stories. Not just the sanitized church story… Black men need to hear [from others] that thank God that I am have what I have now but I used to be a drug dealer or I used to be this or I used to be that and I have the results; I got clean or I was in prison. But I also believe that not only does sharing our testimony help to get men involved; we know other people. So, I may not have the same experience as someone else, but I may know someone who does; so let me connect this brother with someone else that can help further be a blessing to them. The last thing I can say is this: We have to be willing to get involved. Men, by nature, don’t like to get involved in things; we like to be comfortable… We have our own problems and when it comes to dealing with other men, we don’t wanna seem like we’re being nosy. But somebody has to take the reins and somebody has to be able to say I’m gonna get in your business; I’m gonna check on you; I’m gonna hold you accountable; We’ll be accountable to each other. We’ve got to be willing to get involved in other Black men’s lives so that we can see changes.
CC: Over the past couple of year, you have documented your health consciousness. What was the genesis of the desire to be more health conscious. Are you surprised by the impact is has had?
DF: Given the recent public pastoral resignations (due to stress, failures, withdrawals, loneliness etch) and suicides etc, this subject is very important to me.
CC: Well, sir, I thank you for the interview. I really appreciate it.
DF: Thank you, again, so much, for allowing me the time to share and hopefully, it will help somebody else and we’ll all be able to help each other going forward.