Parishioners at Langston Baptist Church on Sunday said they wanted to hear former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s plans for the White House – the plans of what they called a good, Christian man.
“He’s a fine, outstanding Christian man,” said former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride, who is a member at Langston. “There are a few of them. But he’s out there in the world to speak about Christian values.”
Huckabee delivered the sermon to more than 900 people during the weekly 6 p.m. service and participated in a meet-and-greet afterward. Senior Communications Advisor J. Hogan Gidley asked media to leave the building during Huckabee’s sermon, saying Huckabee – an ordained Baptist minister – wanted to keep religion separate from the campaign.
Before the service, Huckabee said it was important to win the first-in-the-south primary in South Carolina next year.
“We want to win in South Carolina,” he said, adding that he is planning several trips to the state in the coming months. “Last time we came very, very close. We were second in South Carolina. We think we can be first this time.”
Huckabee also ran for president in 2008.
He praised South Carolina for its response to the shootings of nine parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston last month, saying that it was important to operate from a place of love.
“In America we talk a lot about race,” he said. “You don’t resolve racial issues by having a conversation. You solve it by having a conversion. If I love God, I can’t hate anyone. ... South Carolina showed the world what real healing looks like with the Emmanuel nine.”
Conway resident Ron Whittington, who is not a member at Langston, said he wanted to hear what Huckabee had to say.
“I got to speak with him, too,” he said during the meet-and-greet. “The sermon was very good. He related how important his family was to him. And how – and I agree with this – one man can’t change this except the father God. Only he can get this country back on track.”
Deacon Ron Hucks said it was exciting to have Huckabee at the church, though he wasn’t exactly sure how Langston was chosen for the former governor to speak.
“I guess he was in town and just needed somewhere to preach,” Hucks said.
Whittington said he couldn’t remember who he voted for in the 2008 Republican primary, but that he likely would vote for Huckabee next year.
“Twenty-eight years of three families ruling the country turns into a monarchy,” he said.
Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or on Twitter @TSN_mprabhu.