Baltimore Sun

‘He got so much joy out of giving’

Longtime pastor of Sharon Baptist Church made impact through religion, civic work

- By Frederick N. Rasmussen

The Rev. Dr. Alfred C.D. Vaughn, who was an influentia­l figure in both the religious and civic life of Baltimore as the longtime pastor of Sharon Baptist Church in Sandtown-Winchester and also served as a commission­er of the Housing Authority, died Sunday of undetermin­ed causes, at his Pikesville home, family members said. He was 84.

“For a generation of clergy, he was the first among equals,” said former Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who is now president of the University of Baltimore. “He was a towering figure in the Baptist Conference, a mentor, a gifted orator and a dedicated public citizen. That’s why I appointed him to the board of the Housing Authority.”

“He was a colossus in both the religious and civic life of our city,” said former Baltimore

mayor and Maryland Gov. Martin J. O’Malley. “He could look into people’s hearts and see their potential. He was a great man, and Baltimore never produced a greater man than Rev. Alfred C.D. Vaughn.”

Senior Bishop John R. Bryant, who pastored Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church from 1975-88 and is a retired senior bishop of the AME Church, was a close friend for more than 40 years.

“For me, he was both a friend and a brother,” Bishop Bryant said. “He had the spiritual gift, and he gave it to the people. He got so much joy out of giving, and as the Bible says, ‘It is better to give than to receive.’

“He was also a pastor’s friend. If a church’s pastor got sick, they sent for Pastor Vaughn. If a pastor died, they’d send for Pastor Vaughn. I was at his house Sunday,

and it was filled with preachers.”

Former Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young also was a close friend.

“He was just a dynamic preacher and teacher and a selfless great man,” Mr. Young said.”He was the dean of ministers, and my heart hangs heavy for his family.

“There are no words to describe him. He was a man’s man . ... He was one of the old guard, and his death is a great loss not only to those who knew Rev. Vaughn but to Baltimore, the state and the nation.”

“He wouldn’t ask you to do more than he would do,” said Wanda Q. Draper, a former journalist who later became executive director of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture.

“When I’d ask him when he was going to retire, he’d say, ‘I do God’s work and I won’t retire and will continue working until God calls me home.’ That’s just the way he was. He was encouragin­g and supporting people until his last breath. He was all about doing the work.”

“He was one of a kind, and that era and class of pastors and ministeria­l leaders largely came to a close Sunday afternoon with his death,” said the Rev. Harold Carter Jr., pastor of New Shiloh Baptist Church.

Alfred Corrogan Daniel Vaughn, son of Robert Vaughn, a Maryland Glass Corp. worker, and Mildred Vaughn, was born in Baltimore, one of 13, and raised in Sandtown-Winchester.

After graduating in 1957 from Frederick Douglass High School, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Theologica­l Seminary and College in Lynchburg, now Virginia University of Lynchburg, and obtained his master’s degree and doctorate from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Ordained a Baptist minister, the Rev. Dr. Vaughn’s first church was Promise Land Baptist Church in Moneta, Virginia, near Lynchburg.

He returned to Baltimore in 1968 to become pastor of Grace Memorial Baptist Church on North Eden Street, a position he held for 18 years, until being appointed in 1986 pastor of historic Sharon Baptist Church at Stricker and Presstman streets.

The Rev. Dr. ughn’s family roots went deep into the history of the church. His grandmothe­r joined its congregati­on in 1894 and his mother in 1911. He was baptized at Sharon, licensed to preach there when he was 8, and, for a time was its janitor.

“Little did I ever dream, as a janitor, to be pastor here,” Rev. Dr. Vaughn said in a 2022 profile in The Baltimore Sun when he was named to the newspaper’s Business and Civic Hall of Fame. “I tease [people] and say, ‘Had I known I was going to be pastor, I would’ve cleaned a little better.’ ”

Rev. Dr. Vaughn and Rev. Carter’s father were close friends.

“He was my godfather, and after the passing of my father in 2013 he became my surrogate father and we got closer,” recalled the Rev. Carter.

“He loved the ministry and the impact of giving. He was a preacher every day in the traditiona­l sense of our culture. He wore the mantle and the attire of a preacher at home and in the community, and when you saw him, you knew he was a preacher.”

For 51 years the Rev. Dr. Vaughn participat­ed in Good Friday services at New Shiloh.

“He was also a great prayer warrior, and his language could bring down heaven,” the Rev. Carter said.

“He was a phenomenal preacher whose sermons were mesmerizin­g,” Ms. Draper said. “You understood what he said and you understood the lesson. He got you excited.”

When it came to giving, the Rev. Dr. Vaughn was very supportive of his church’s food bank, prison ministry, school supply drives and helping those in need. Before leaving for his church one day, his wife gave him the money to pay the gas and electric bills.

“When he got to Sharon, there was a man there who needed money to pay his back rent so his family wouldn’t be set out. It was winter time, so he gave him the money that he had in his pocket,” Ms. Draper recalled.

“He forgot to pay the BGE bill, and when Lillian, his wife, tried to turn on the lights, there was no power, so she called Alfred. He told her, ‘OK, I’ll fix it,’ but helping others was the kind of man he was.”

The Rev. Dr. Vaughn had the gift of diplomacy in reaching out to other churches and faiths across the city that were experienci­ng problems.

“He was a leader among ministers and that’s why we gave him the nickname of ‘Cardinal,’ ” said Larry Gibson, a University of Maryland law professor and veteran political adviser whose late wife, Diana, was in the same graduating class at Douglass High School.

“He could help diffuse church politics and

mentor pastors ... He could negotiate difference­s. He also worked on the campaigns of [former Congressma­n] Parren J. Mitchell and [former State’s Attorney] Milton B. Allen. He expanded African American political participat­ion in Baltimore.”

Former Mayor Shelia A. Dixon became close friends with the Rev. Dr. Vaughn when she represente­d the 4th District, which includes Sandtown-Winchester, in the City Council.

“He was a phenomenal man of God, honest, truthful, committed and very genuine,” Ms. Dixon said. “He was forthright and part of the civil rights struggle and tried to speak for every one of us as a whole.”

In 1995 Mr. Schmoke appointed the Rev. Dr. Vaughn to the five-member board of commission­ers of the Housing Authority of Baltimore City where he served for a decade.

“He stepped up so many times for our city,” Mr. O’Malley said. “I was a freshly-minted mayor, and Rev. Vaughn and former Mayor Tommy D’Alesandro came to the rescue of the Housing Authority, and because of their passion it was rescued from being taken over by the federal government and gave people decency and a roof over their heads.”

During the 1968 riots following the assassinat­ion of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the Rev. Dr. Vaughn rode with the police in an attempt to keep the peace, and following the death of the Freddie Gray in 2015 and the civil unrest that ensued, he once again reached out.

“And he worked hard to keep that peace,” Mr. Schmoke said.

Reflecting on his life, the Rev. Dr. Vaughn told The Afro in 2006, “It’s all about being a servant, not a celebrity ... What I simply tell those coming behind me is, if you want to be successful in ministry, keep your antennae high enough and you can hear God.”

Plans for services are incomplete.

The Rev. Dr. Vaughn is survived by his wife of 60 years, the former Dr. Lillian Pursell Bowser, a retired educator; two daughters, Dr. Lynette Vaughn of Pikesville and Dr. Cassandra Vaughn of Woodlawn; two sisters, Carrietta Ivey of Reistersto­wn and Alfredus Graham of Woodlawn; three grandchild­ren; and a great-grandson.

His son, Corrogan R. Vaughn, died in 2017.

 ?? KARL MERTON FERRON/BALTIMORE SUN ?? The Rev. Dr. Alfred C.D. Vaughn’s family roots went deep into the history of the church. His grandmothe­r joined its congregati­on in 1894.
KARL MERTON FERRON/BALTIMORE SUN The Rev. Dr. Alfred C.D. Vaughn’s family roots went deep into the history of the church. His grandmothe­r joined its congregati­on in 1894.
 ?? STEVE RUARK/FOR THE BALTIMORE SUN ?? Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, left, and the Rev. Alfred C.D. Vaughn shake hands during The Baltimore Sun’s Business and Civic Hall of Fame induction dinner in 2022.
STEVE RUARK/FOR THE BALTIMORE SUN Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, left, and the Rev. Alfred C.D. Vaughn shake hands during The Baltimore Sun’s Business and Civic Hall of Fame induction dinner in 2022.

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