Happy Watkins helps keep The Fig Tree in tune with issues
|The Rev. Happy Watkins|
The Rev. Happy Watkins has been an integral part of the life of The Fig Tree.
He served on the board of the Spokane Christian Coalition when Mary Stamp came from Tekoa and presented the idea of starting an ecumenical newspaper to cover religion news.
“There was some skepticism about how to pay for it then, but over the 30 years, it has paid for itself,” said Happy, describing the publication’s birth and growth.
Over the years, he has been involved in many ecumenical endeavors, the Interfaith Task Force on Human Relations, Nightwalk Ministry, a South Hill interfaith ministers group, the Spokane Ministers’ Fellowship, the NAACP, Martin Luther King Jr. Family Outreach Center, and many coalitions that have worked in the community to improve the correctional system, the police department, the justice system, the school district and youth programs, especially addressing racial issues.
He has also served on community, interfaith and ecumenical bodies to bring reconciliation among churches and faiths. For many years, he and Ivan Bush collaborated to plan the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day service and march.
Happy started as pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in 1990. He said the church’s call was for him to serve the community, not just the congregation.
Not only has he committed to memory many proverbs that lend insight on life and faith, but also he is well known for giving Dr. King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, keeping the words and their meaning alive today.
The oldest of 10 children, he grew up in a family in the Bronx amid millions of blacks and whites, Puerto Ricans, Irish, Poles, Italians and Jews. He was shocked by the lack of diversity when he came to Spokane in 1961 with the Air Force.
He attended Morningstar Baptist, then helped restart the Sharon Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, where he served from 1982 to 1985 while he became a full pastor.
After five years as assistant pastor at Calvary Baptist, mentored by the Rev. C. W. Andrews, he went to New Hope Baptist.
Happy worked 13 years in security at Deaconess. After studying clinical pastoral education, he served several years as chaplain and patient advocate at Holy Family Hospital.
Happy, who has served since 2008 on The Fig Tree board, often shares article ideas, including a recent series on six local African-American pastors who have been married more than 50 years. He helps The Fig Tree connect with people and issues of the African-American community.
“The response is overwhelming when the African-American community regularly sees people who look like us featured,” he said.
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