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New Selma Baptist pastor uses Starbucks to share gospel

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SELMA —Todd Daniels, the new pastor at Selma Baptist Church, said he feels spending time at the Starbucks coffeehouse in neighboring Smithfield is one of the best ways for him to reach members of his clientele.

Daniels, 46, comes to Selma from Shiloh Baptist Church in Monroe, a suburb of Charlotte.

He was at Shiloh, a church of about 400 members, for the past 23 years, including the last 17 as minister of youth.

Daniels preached his first sermon as senior pastor at Selma Baptist Church on Sunday, Jan 6.

Daniels said getting out and being in the community is really important to him in his ministry and Starbucks provides a perfect opportunity for him to do that.

“I get lots of sermon ideas when I am in Starbucks,” said Daniels. “It is a good place to go and an environment where you can get to know people of the community. I want to connect with the younger generation and one way to do that is by going to where they hang out and listen to them talk.”

Daniels said he got the Starbucks idea about four years ago when he drove past a Starbucks in Monroe and noticed the teenagers hanging out there.

“Some of them had spiked hair or purple hair and I thought to myself, ‘These are the people I want to talk to,’” said Daniels. “I prayed a lot about doing this and I feel like the Lord has shown me this is the path.”

“Show them something different than what they expect the church to look like and sit and talk and listen over a cup of coffee,” he said. “When you look at the scripture, Jesus was always out among the people and that is where he did most of his ministry. Even after the resurrection, the apostles went out among the people to spread the gospel.”

Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Daniels came to this area along with his parents when they moved to North Carolina in 1988.

Daniels attended Sun Valley High School in Monroe.

He received his bachelor’s degree in religious studies from Wingate University and earned a master’s degree in divinity from Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs.

Daniels and his wife, Gina Daniels, have been married for 24 years and the couple has one son, Noah 22, soon to graduate at Wingate University in May with a degree in English.

They live in Clayton.

Daniels said he is a fan of all kinds of music and enjoys playing the drums.

Daniels said everyone has been very helpful and what he mostly likes about the area so far is there is less traffic than where he just came from in Monroe.

“The only downside is there is not a Target store here, but there is a Starbucks,” said Daniels. “We are excited about being here and we believe that God called us here to lead this church. We accepted the call together in 1999.”

“We are very excited about Todd Daniels becoming our pastor,” said Linwood Stephenson, a member of the church’s pastoral search committee.“We waited a long time, almost one and a half years, to find the right person and I believe we have done that.”

Membership has already grown since Daniels’ arrival, Stephenson said.

“Todd has been trying to prepare everyone for some changes,” he said. “He is a fabulous speaker and has lots of good ideas.”

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