Rev. Philip Cousin, Jr.
By Dawn Baumgartner
The Rev. Philip Cousin Jr., a longtime religious and political leader in Durham, North Carolina was appointed new pastor of Bethel A.M.E. Church in San Francisco.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church moved Cousin from St. Joseph A.M.E. in Durham, where he has served since 1992, to the pulpit of Bethel A.M.E. Church.
Cousin got the call Wednesday last week and had 72 hours to get ready for his new church, after nearly 21 years at St. Joseph A.M.E.
“It happened quickly,” he said Monday, reached by phone at Bethel A.M.E. Church. “It’s kind of a combination of military and corporate America. Being assigned to a new church is always a possibility.”
Bethel A.M.E. is the oldest African-American church in San Francisco.
Cousin said he sees his appointment to Bethel as “an opportunity to move an old and established congregation forward.” Founded in 1852, Bethel has a 356-unit affordable housing complex and a credit union.
The church is a fixture in San Francisco culture, Cousin said.
Cousin and his wife, Angela McMillan Cousin, have five children. The eldest four are grown, but youngest son Joshua, 16, is a rising junior at Durham School of the Arts (DSA). Cousin praised the school, DSA principal and his son’s music teacher, DSA choir director Sean Grier.
The move will probably be hard on Joshua, Cousin said.
“My wife and I are thinking Durham is always home,” Cousin said, and they’ll keep their house there. There’s no place like Durham, he said.
Cousin grew up in Durham, and in St. Joseph A.M.E. He served at five other churches before coming to his home church in August 1992.
Cousin said he will miss Durham. “I’m very humbled that the community allowed me to serve on the school board and commissioners. I had the opportunity to serve with some outstanding people,” he said. Cousin said he is grateful Durham prepared him very well “to go anywhere and navigate political waters.”
Cousin said he wants a good, long-term relationship with his new church in San Francisco.
“I’ll be a displaced Southerner for awhile,” Cousin said.