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Sitting in a room with 15 clergy members, referencing notes from his tablet, and quoting rap lyrics to pronounce his points, the Rev. Heber Brown III leads the weekly senior Bible study at Baltimore’s Pleasant Hope Baptist Church. His discussions revolve around various topics, including the importance of speaking the truth even when it is not popular.

“Galileo was locked up because he dared to suggest that the planets revolved around the sun and not around the earth,” said Brown, as he sat at the head of the table, in front of a green chalk board with a partially erased scripture. “He challenged absolute truth and was incarcerated until he died.”

Brown, 33, who is married and has two children, has been serving Pleasant Hope Baptist Church for nearly five years. In that time, he has grown into a prominent evangelist and respected activist.

Continuing in the legacy of Black religious leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, Brown regularly protests injustices and raises awareness about controversial political issues. A stereotypical “preacher’s kid,” Brown said he grew up in a house full of preachers and church performers. His religious upbringing has shaped his church’s ideology.

“We see the church as an anchor institution in our community,” said Brown. “Regardless of what you believe, there is no doubt that the church has a long history in supporting and advancing our community.”

Brown received his B.S. in Psychology in 2002 from Morgan State University, which is located just three miles from his current church. Three years later, he graduated from Virginia Union University with a master’s degree in divinity. He is currently attending the Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. and plans to receive his doctorate of ministry in May 2014.

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