Rev. Wilson Rice is the oldest African American minister actively serving the City of Laurel.

By Proclamation, Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee recognized Reverend Wilson Rice, 95, inside City Hall Tuesday afternoon in celebration of Black History Month.

Rev. Rice is the oldest African American minister actively serving the City of Laurel.

"I, Johnny Magee, Mayor of the City of Laurel, do hereby declare Tuesday, February 23, 2021, as Rev. Wilson Rice Day," read Magee from the Proclamation certificate. "I encourage all citizens to join in honoring this devout man of God for his 68 years of preaching and teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the transformation of our community and the world."

"To the pastor of Wesley Chapel and to the mayor of the City of Laurel, I appreciate what you've done," added Rice later in the ceremony. "Thank you so much, and may God bless you. As I've said before, the Lord saved my soul, and I'll serve him faithfully till the day I die. I'll be on this battlefield till the Lord says well done [my faithful servant]."

Beginning his Gospel ministry at the age of 26, Rev. Rice has been preaching for 68 years and pastoring St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church for 55 years.

"The Spirit of God," said Rice when asked what's kept him going all these years. "I appreciate all that God has done for me. He's been good to me, and I can't quite put into words all that God has done for me.

“I’ve been many places preaching [the Gospel] — Wisconsin, (Indianapolis) Indiana, (Tuskegee) Michigan, and all over the state of Mississippi.”

Joining Rev. Rice at the Proclamation was his wife of 72 years, Mrs. Eva Rice, and other family members.

Together the couple has seven children — four sons and three daughters, 37 grandchildren, 46 great-grandchildren, and several great-great-grandchildren.

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