Prince George pastor Tucker discusses life of civil rights advocacy

By: Sherry Williams Kidd | Twitter: @PGJournal
Posted: August 24, 2019 | 12:30 p.m.

PRINCE GEORGE – Pastor Sylvia K. Tucker is a nationally-renown historical treasure living in the heart of Central Virginia. Some residents that have been patients in John Randolph Medical Center and their family members looking for guidance, know her only as of the compassionate lady at the Hopewell hospital, with the kind and nurturing words when they needed it the most. 

Some area residents, however, have heard of the battles fought by Tucker to give a voice to the voiceless, strength to the weak, and hope to the hopeless. 

She began her professional career at John Randolph Medical Center as a part of the financial team. Soon, she was afforded the opportunity to pursue her ministry full time. She was promoted from the hospital’s financial advisor to its chaplain. This history-making appointment made her the first female African American chaplain in the Commonwealth. In 1994, she was ordained and licensed as a Baptist minister and, from 1995 onward, the reverend, humanitarian, and civil rights advocate has served as the Director of Pastoral Care and Chaplain for John Randolph Medical Center.  

“Reverend Tucker is always an advocate for patients and employees,” commented Joe Mazzo, chief executive officer, John Randolph Medical Center. “She provides comfort for patients and their families in their times of need, and people seek her out every time they return back to the hospital.”

“I have spent most of my life working for civil rights for all people, and it has given me great satisfaction and inner peace,” Tucker remarked. “It has always been important to me to stand up for those that could not stand up for themselves, and to attempt to make change when change was needed. I am proud to have been a part of great changes in our country, and to have worked with great people along the way. I was honored to have participated in marches with Martin Luther King, III; Rosa Parks; Coretta Scott King; Dick Gregory; the Reverend Dr. Curtis Harris, and so many others over the years. These were all national marches that made people aware and did indeed affect positive change in our great country. We have also spoken up locally in the Central Virginia area, and several peaceful protests helped to effect positive change in the ’80s and ’90s right here in Virginia. I also had the great pleasure of serving on the board of the SCLC, and I served with Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks. Both of these great ladies were wonderful mentors for me. I was so young back then, and their courage, determination, and above all, their kindness and caring, left an immeasurable impression on the direction I took in life. Eventually, in 2007, I became the first female Chairperson of the Board of the SCLC. This was indeed a great honor for me to serve and represent the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the organization he had founded.”

Tucker has received many accolades and prestigious awards for her service in humanitarianism and civil rights, including a permanent part of the History Makers Collection at the Library of Congress. She was the first woman to serve as SCLC National Chaplain and serves as the Virginia SLC President. She received the prestigious Martin Luther King, Jr., Legacy Award for Religious Affairs. 

She also received the Robert Jones Community Award and the Prince George Chapter of SCLC Civil Rights Award. She was the first African American female Chaplain to be inducted in Virginia, and was the first recipient of the Humanitarian HCA Employee Award, for John Randolph Medical Center. The Reverend Dr. Tucker also received the SCLC National Rosa Parks Award. In 2017, she was awarded the Meritorious Service Award from the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association.

Tucker is married to Raymond Tucker, Sr. They are the proud parents of four children: Shelta Tucker Flowers, called Matthew;  Racine Hamilton, called Mark; Raymond, Jr., called Angela; and Sylvester Royce Tucker, called Emily. Reverend Tucker is also the grandmother of six beautiful grandchildren. After graduating from Stone High School in Melbourne, Florida, she earned an Associate of Arts Degree and an AA in Christian Ministries. She successfully completed a program in Women in Credit and Business from John Tyler Community College. She has also studied at St. Leo College in Fort Lee, Virginia. Reverend Tucker also received an honorary degree in religious studies from the Virginia Seminary and college, Lynchburg, Virginia. She now holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Pastoral Ministries from the Bible College and Seminary, New Orleans, Louisiana. The Reverend is a graduate of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care and Advanced Counseling in Richmond, Virginia. Additionally, she holds a Master’s Degree in Christian Education from Rovear Christian University, Richmond, Virginia, and a Doctor of Theology Degree from A. P. Clay Christian Theological College in Kennar, Louisiana.

“The communities of Central Virginia have leaned on the Reverend for spiritual guidance and support, and thanks to her presence, her parish in Prince George is thriving,” said Mazzo.

Tucker is a living, breathing, historical figure in Virginia and our country. She is the first and only SCLC National Chairwoman Emeritus. She is also the First Female African American pastor in Prince George with an established church. She was installed as pastor of Loving Union Baptist Church, Disputanta, Virginia on Sunday, February 8, 2015.

“I guess what makes me most proud is when I reflect on the times in my life that I was a voice for those who could not speak for themselves, and I was the strength for those who were too weak to fight,” reflected Reverend Dr. Sylvia Tucker. “I have always given my all in trying to ensure that people were treated equally, and I did so freely. Even in my Chaplain duties at JRMC, I put everything that I have into making sure that the broken are heard, that people are prayed for, and that everyone has equal status. In this hospital, in my church, and in my life, a homeless person is no less important than the CEO of a huge corporation. Every man, woman, and child should be afforded dignity, respect, and compassion.”

Copyright 2019 by Womack Publishing
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