Second Baptist Pastor Eugene C. Staples from South Bend, Ind., with his family.

Archived Story

New pastor energizes pulpit

Published 9:35pm Thursday, April 5, 2012

Not only is dynamic new Second Baptist Church Pastor Eugene C. Staples Sr. media-savvy, with an award-winning background in writing, television production and brand messaging, but, yes, he’s related to those Staples singers.
Second Baptist already has a logo and a “catchphrase” — get encouraged, educated and equipped “to live balanced lives.”
Staples, 47 in April, of South Bend, is an only child with a wife, Kelly, of 24 years, and five children, Eugene II, a senior at the University of Notre Dame; Sidney, a freshman at Ball State; Gabrielle, Sam and Adam.
Kelly works for South Bend Community School Corp., where Eugene was a family and community school specialist from 2006 to ’09. They met while he was a musician.
Not only did Staples undertake a 100-day campaign when he started March 11, he drove to Saginaw to meet 32-year retired pastor the Rev. Henry C. Smith and is meeting personally with each member of his 57-member congregation at 203 S. Paul St., which celebrates Easter at 10:45 a.m. Sunday.
“I believe you shouldn’t wait until an emergency or crisis hits in your life to talk to your pastor,” Staples said. “You can’t know me without spending time with me. I’ve been in ministry since ’97. I preached my first sermon that November.”
He has met with Mayor Don Lyons and City Manager Kevin Anderson, and accompanied Public Safety Director Tom Atkinson to Rotary Thursday.
A South Bend Tribune photographer from 1986 to 1988, he became a writer, producer and director for CBS affiliate WSBT-TV 22 from 1988 to 1992; production director for Hoosier TV 53 in Indianapolis, 1993 to 1995; and creative services director for NBC affiliate WNDU-TV 16 and director and videographer for Golden Dome Productions video production house, 1995 to 1998.
The first time he felt called to ministry, “I didn’t want to do it,” said Staples, who at one point wanted to own a nightclub. While writing, directing and producing TV commercials for WNDU, Staples began preaching.
Staples attended Indiana University Bloomington and in 2002 published a self-help book, “Bent-But-Not-Broken.” He was associate pastor of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, established Capernaum Community Church and spent almost seven years as senior pastor of Southwind Immanuel Church in Michigan City, Ind.
“We were the first African-American family,” he said.
“When we got there in 2000, they had 14 members, which shot up to about 125 within a year through diverse ministry, and I don’t just mean white and black, but old and young and different economic status. I resigned because my dad’s health got bad. He passed four years ago June 28.”
He “planted” a church at Showplace 16 cinema in South Bend, which evolved into a “street ministry in the ’hood with a 24-hour food pantry and meals.”
Gospel singer “Pops” Staples’ (who died in 2000) real first name was Roebuck, Gene said, while his grandfather’s name was Sears.
“My great-grandmother wanted her own Sears and Roebuck,” he said.
“My dad was Sears Jr., so growing up, the Staples always brought me records. They’d come to the house if they were performing at Notre Dame. I did an interview with Pops on my television show. I played drums and learned how to play piano, guitar and bass and put together my own little studio. Paul Simon’s ‘Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover’ was the first song I learned to play. I grew up in a diverse environment at LaSalle High School. It wasn’t segregated,” like most churches on Sunday mornings.
Pop Staples formed the Chicago group with his children Cleotha, Pervis, Yvonne and Mavis who are best known for 1970s hits, “I’ll Take You There,” “Respect Yourself” and “Let’s Do It Again.”

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