Faces of Fauquier: NAACP leader wants to contribute
“I came to a conclusion that civil rights are really for everyone,” says James Kelly, who worked as a legal consultant for 32 years before he and his wife moved to Fauquier in 2007.
You have to understand that no one blanket thing will work for everybody. Everyone has an individual need. You have to remain neutral and be sensitive to everyone’s needs and how you can best help them.
James Kelly serves as pastor of Silver Hill Baptist Church near Sumerduck and as the newly-elected president of Fauquier’s unit of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Mr. Kelly accepted the position as the local NAACP’s leader in June.
“The Constitution of the United States says that all people are created equal,” the Pennsylvania native said. “The word of God says that we are all created equal in His image; so I began to look at that in moving civil rights forward with all people.”
Founded almost 60 years ago, the Fauquier NAACP unit has about 100 members.
“We are there to help (people) with whatever their needs are: housing, alleged discrimination, financial needs, food and shelter, domestic situations, criminal injustice, political and more,” he explained.
Mr. Kelly hopes to inspire the next generation of NAACP members and to contribute to a legacy on which to build.
“When I think back on the early civil rights activists — Martin Luther King Jr., Bobby Kennedy, John Kennedy and all those that were affiliated with that — they didn’t make a difference that day, that particular time. But, here we are . . . some years later, living the things that they initiated. So, I began to think about how can I contribute to the cause.
“I came to a conclusion that civil rights are really for everyone.”
His also sees his work with the NAACP as an extension of the church.
“I took on this challenge because I believe that the power of the people is in the churches, not just in Fauquier County, but in the nation,” Mr. Kelly said. “When I look at what’s going on in the world today, I believe as churches come together in strength and unity, that we’re not going to solve all the world’s problems, but I believe we have the abilities to help rectify some of the situations that occur in the world today.”
Developing and maintaining relationships with community organizations, law enforcement agencies, churches and other groups represent important goals.
“We have to be proactive to situations, in the event they would occur, as opposed as being reactive to them,” Mr. Kelly said.
During his first year as president, he plans to do extensive research into “root problems,” such as healthcare, education, criminal justice, federal funding, census reports and more on a local and national level to better understand the needs of citizens.
“The reward to me is just solving problems . . . seeing positive results,” Mr. Kelly said.
“You have to understand that no one blanket thing will work for everybody. Everyone has an individual need. You have to remain neutral and be sensitive to everyone’s needs and how you can best help them.”
President of the Fauquier NAACP chapter since June. Pastor of Silver Hill Baptist Church near Sumerduck, since July 2012. Real estate broker for nine years.
Corporate law consultant for transit agencies in the U.S. and foreign countries for 32 years.
• Why do you do the job?
I like reaching out to the needs of the community. The community has been very supportive of me. I just try to work to give back as much as I can to the community. I do Bible studies outside of the church and worship services on Sunday afternoons. I like reaching out to the people who cannot get to me. We have to meet the needs of the people where they are.
Wife, Darlene; five children; eight grandchildren; sister, Phyllis, who lives in Ohio.
Doctorate in divinity from Universal Life Church, 2015. Biblical studies at Fredericksburg Bible Institute and Union University School of Religion. Bachelor’s degree, supervisory management technology, Indiana University, 1972. Law degree, Indiana University, 1976.
• Civic and/or church involvement
Board of directors, Community Touch Inc.; chaplain, Fauquier Health; vice moderator, Fauquier County and Vicinity Ministers Coalition; executive board member, Northern Virginia Baptist Association; member, Tidewater Ministers, Deacons and Christians Union; member, Baptist General Convention; member, Ministers Baptist Conference of Northern Virginia and the Vicinity; trustee, Northern Virginia Baptist Center Board, and former president, Northern Virginia Baptist Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Convention Inc.
• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
Since 2007. I came to Virginia in 1995.
• Why do you live here?
Because I wanted to be close to the church. I try to make myself as accessible to the congregation as much as possible.
• How do you describe this county?
I don’t think Fauquier is very different than other places I’ve lived. I like the hospitality of Fauquier County.
• What would you change about Fauquier?
I would like to see all the churches come together in the community and to move forward for the cause of Christ in spreading the gospel and continuing to reach out and win souls to Christ. If Fauquier County could become the model for the nation that way, that would be great.
• What do you do for fun?
My old hobby use to be restoring old farm equipment. I continue to work in the ministry God has called me to do. I love spreading the gospel . . . . That’s why I do the Bible studies and gospel choirs. God is first in my life and I don’t put anything else before that.
• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
LongHorn Steakhouse. I love a good steak.
• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years?
Unrecognizable. No different than any other community. The people have pushed through Northern Virginia and Prince William, and now they are pushing up from Richmond. You see Fauquier sitting in between Washington, D.C., and Richmond. I see Fauquier becoming that next county that has that significant growth. People are still continuing to migrate to get away from the hustle. Fauquier is still building up. Fauquier will be the next county to have population and building explosion. Ten years from now, Fauquier will be built up like Prince William and Loudon counties . . . congested. I see the rural parts diminishing.
• Favorite TV show?
“The Andy Griffith Show”
• Favorite movie?
“The Passion of the Christ”
• Favorite book?
The Bible. Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
• Favorite vacation spot?
Hawaii or the Caribbean Islands. Their lifestyle is so different than ours. They are laid back.
• Favorite food?
Steak and potatoes.
• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom?
My father, Ralph Kelly Jr., told me: “You do your learning when you’re doing your listening, not your talking.”
• Who’s your hero and why?
Jesus was my favorite hero. The reason why is John 3:16.
• What would you do if you won $1 million in the lottery?
Quietly leave the area.
Suggest a profile candidate