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California pastor, author credits Van Alstyne for career

By Joshua Baethge
Van Alstyne Leader
Pastor Derrick Temple says he was first called to the ministry while attending Sunday school in Van Alstyne.

Derrick Temple may have never actually lived in Van Alstyne, but the city stays with him everywhere he goes.  The California-based Christian minister has released two nationally available books this year.  The first one is titled “Making the Last Days Your Best Days: A Biblical worldview of the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020.”  He says it’s a short book that people might find interesting in today’s COVID climate.

His most recent release, “The Pastor and His Anatomy: A Biblical Examination Volume I & II” has been 18 years in the making. It originated during a dark time in his life where he felt a calling to go into the ministry but wasn’t sure he could do it.  The book talks about the role preachers play in spreading the Christian gospel.  One of the main themes he comes back to multiple times is that preachers and ministers themselves are simply ordinary people who feel they have been called by God to do greater things

“As preachers, we are either idolized or scandalized,” he said. “People rarely understand that we are just ordinary men who God can use in an extraordinary say.”

Temple recalls his frequent childhood trips to Van Alstyne.  He lived in Dallas, but on many weekends and every summer, he would head north to visit his aunts. He says that coming there “was like heaven” to him and that many of the core values he holds today were learned in the city.

His aunt Patricia Orr still lives in Van Alstyne. It doesn’t take long for her to smile and brag about how proud she is of what her nephew has become She remembers a young Derrick running around in the open space and seemingly always making friends. 

“He just always loved coming here and having fun all those summers,” she recalls. 

If he was in Van Alstyne on a Sunday, Temple would likely be found at Samaria Baptist Church. He came from a long line of preachers who were well known in the black Baptist church. Like many kids, he wasn’t a big fan of Sunday school.  However, when he was eight-years-old and his other aunt, Melissa Orr, was teaching class, he first realized that he probably wanted to be a preacher too.  It took him nine more years to finally act on his calling, but in a sense, he’d known it all along. As he puts it, his “humanity got in the way.”

“A lot of my spiritual roots come from that little church where we gathered on Sunday mornings,” he says. 

During a five-day revival in Dallas, Temple says he was called to join his cousin at a church in Los Angeles. His cousin groomed him to be a pastor for about five years. He did a lot of inner city ministry there before next being called to a little church in nearby Oxnard.  A couple of years later, he organized his own church in 2002. 

Today the Urban Christian Assembly is an inner-city church that focuses on those suffering from homelessness, addiction and abuse. Temple also works for a nonprofit consulting company and as an inspirational speaker. While his career has taken him all over the country, he never forgets where his inspiration began. 

“I want people to know that it all started in Van Alstyne, in that little country city that was my favorite place to go,” he said.