The Rev. Ralph Sheraton Emerson's assumption of the pastorate at New Life Chapel in Odessa is literally a dream come true.
The Odessa American reports based on a dream his wife Chanesia had in February 2018, Emerson said, "I know I'm in the right place.
"She dreamed about a beautiful Hispanic lady giving us a tour and standing with us in the balcony. It was modern church with green pews and screens on a big stage and what Chanesia felt was an installation or a laying on of hands.
"She saw people from North Carolina and my dad and people from my dad's church in Fort Worth."
The dream became real when the couple visited New Life Chapel last December at 914 N. Texas Ave., and Deinah Gallegos, wife of church board member Adrian Gallegos, met them at the door.
"I said, `This is it!"' said Emerson, who preached his first sermon Feb. 3 and was installed by his father, the Rev. Ralph Waldo Emerson Jr., the next weekend. "What really struck me was that the pews were green. There was no way to deny something like this. We cried some tears in the balcony."
Emerson grew up in his dad's church, Rising Star Baptist Church, and won a regional championship with the Fort Worth Country Day School basketball team. He took a bachelor's of business administration degree at Florida A&M in Tallahassee and worked eight years as youth and administrative pastor and executive pastor at Rising Star.
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He was executive pastor for 5 1/2 years at CityGate Church in Burlington, North Carolina, before coming to Odessa. He and his wife have two children. His mom's name is Gladys.
Emerson enjoys "reminding people that the grace of God and the love of God are available regardless of who you are, where you come from or what you have done," he said.
"If you have a pulse, you have a purpose. I try my best to be relevant and cover as much as I can because people have questions in this society and culture about marriage, relationships, family and money. Our society is so fast-paced that it can be overwhelming."
The 36-year-old minister said people misstep when they try to make cultural norms fit scripture "instead of paying attention to what scripture really says.
"We live in a society that says your way is the right way and you can do what you want and have your own truth," Emerson said. "Many people are looking for answers and not finding satisfaction in their career paths or relationships. Christ can fulfill all those things. The best way is the narrow road."
In early February, New Life Chapel was averaging 270 people at its 10 a.m. Sunday services.
The Rev. Robert White of Bedford, east-northeast of Fort Worth, said Emerson was greatly influenced by his dad but is nonetheless his own man. "One of the things I love about Ralph is his ability to be himself but also to honor and respect the people who came before him," White said.
"At the same time, he blazes a trail to what he feels God has called him to do. He is the same man behind closed doors that we see on stage."