(1931 – 2017)
We’re celebrating black heroes who made history, and I want to introduce you to Dr. Ruben S. Conner, pastor of Community Bible Church and founder and president of Urban Evangelical Mission (formerly known as Black Evangelistic Enterprises). In 1931, Dr. Conner was born in a typical African-American farming community which suggested he would become nothing more than a third generational farmer. On top of that, his mother died shortly after he was born, and his father remarried seven times. Dr. Conner dropped out of school in the 7th grade.
However, God had a plan for his life. Dr. Conner joined the military when he was 16. After seven years of service, a Bronze Star, and combat injuries, he returned home before moving to Dallas. He converted to Christianity, got married, and opened his barber shop where he began evangelizing and preaching. He then earned his GED, attended Bible school, and made history in 1960 when he planted the first African-American Bible Church in the South.
Dr. Conner, who later earned two Master degrees and a doctorate degree, served as the senior pastor at Community Bible Church for 25 years. He also launched Black Evangelistic Enterprises which helped establish over 40 evangelical churches worldwide—including Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship.
While at DTS, I began attending Community Bible Church. After being accepted as the first African-American into the DTS doctrinal program, I was also invited to become an associate professor. However, Dr. Conner challenged me to start a Bible church in Dallas under Black Evangelistic Enterprises as a way of modeling the ideas that I had for connecting the spiritual and social state of my community. There would be no OCBF without Dr. Conner.
Dr. Conner was a faithful preacher, pastor, mentor, and church planter who emphasized social change in African American culture. He not only impacted my life, but he impacted innumerable souls for the Kingdom. And for that reason, he should be celebrated.