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Miami pastor murdered, suspect arrested

MIAMI (BP) — MIAMI–Pastor AD Lenoir, senior pastor of Westview Baptist Church in Miami since 2009, was stabbed to death on the steps of his church building Saturday, April 6.

Police have arrested James Dawkins, a homeless man whom Lenoir had befriended and had been helping, and have charged Dawkins with first-degree murder.

Through the years of his pastorate, Lenoir led his congregation to be a Gospel presence in the community. The church was actively involved in Westview Elementary School, where Lenoir served as a chaplain and led his church to lead a robust after-school program, a tutoring ministry, summer camp and other activities designed to share God’s love with children and their parents.

Westview Baptist Church also adopted a local low-income apartment community, with church members building relationships with residents and meeting practical needs, such as helping unemployed adults develop skills to write resumes and prepare for interviews.

Hundreds of individuals have been baptized as a result of the church’s investment in the community.

During Lenoir’s tenure as Westview pastor, other churches have come alongside Westview Baptist Church to assist in reaching community residents with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Numerous churches have sent mission teams to minister throughout the community with vacation Bible schools and other initiatives.

Lenoir also served as a chaplain with the North Miami Police Department.

NBC Miami reported that Lenoir was attempting to help Dawkins get back on his feet, even allowing him to stay on the church property, but that arrangement was ending. Authorities said Dawkins stabbed Lenoir “without provocation.”

In a 2019 article about the church’s active presence in the community, Lenoir said, “We want to reach our community and invest whatever resources we have into them.”

He added, “We are trying to model Christ in a practical way.”

Florida Baptist leaders have expressed their love and admiration for Lenoir and their prayers for his family.

“He was a friend who truly had a love for his family, church and community,” said Erik Cummings, Florida Baptists’ Black multicultural catalyst. “He was not a stranger to anyone; if you didn’t know him, he would make sure you got to know him. If there was an opportunity to do something for or learn more about engaging and impacting the community, he was there. I am heartbroken over his death and praying for his wife, children and church family as they navigate this tragedy.”

Patrick Coats, Florida Baptists’ East region catalyst described Lenoir as “a delight to be around. He was the type of brother that was a friend to everyone he came in contact with.This tragic news comes with deep sadness; my thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and children.”

Pastor Lenoir was well known and beloved in his community; he was a loving husband and father, and he was respected by other pastors, said Al Fernandez, Florida Baptists’ Southeast region catalyst.

Lenoir, a native of Miami, is survived by his wife, Bree, and four children, ages 13 to 20.