Mel Williams--photo--10-10-09 DSC_3101

Rev. Mel Williams is the co-founder of the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham (founded in 1992), and current treasurer of Board of Directors. He has led prayer vigils for Vigil Ministry since its inception in 1997. While Mel was pastor of Watts Street Baptist Church, the congregation’s Reconciliation and Reentry faith team welcomed four young men home from prison, and a young woman and mother who was on intensive probation and at risk of incarceration.

He is also a founder of End Poverty Durham, an interfaith coalition seeking to end poverty in Durham within 25 years. End Poverty Durham launched Durham Economic Resource Center in 2008, and also sponsors REAL Durham, an initiative that matches volunteer Allies with a family struggling with material poverty. A primary goal is to mobilize Durham congregations to reduce the 28% Durham child poverty rate.

Mel is one of five founding pastors of Walltown Neighborhood Ministries (WNM), Inc. In 2005 his advocacy efforts led to the opening of the Walltown Health Clinic. He retired in March 2012 after 24 years as pastor of Watts Street Baptist Church in Durham, NC. He has served in pastoral ministry for more than forty years, serving as Associate Minister at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh (1969-79), pastor of Oakhurst Baptist Church in Decatur, GA (1980-88) and pastor of Watts Street Baptist (1988-2012).

Following his retirement from WSBC, he provides leadership for End Poverty Durham, working under the umbrella of MDC, long-time anti-poverty agency located in downtown Durham.

Mel Williams holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Wake Forest University and a Masters of Divinity Degree from Yale Divinity School.

He is married to Jan Adams Williams, director of Healthy Families Durham. They have two children: Jenna, a music therapist, recently returned with her husband Chris after 2 years as Church of the Brethren volunteers at the Arts Center for Peace in Suchitoto, El Salvador. Son Mark holds a masters degree in vocal performance from New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he lives.

Mel is also a singer, a longtime member of Bloomsbury, a folk-singing group in Raleigh. He also has been known to sing in the middle of his sermons.