Common Council candidate Terrance Heard is already at work cleaning up the Ellicott District. He is challenging Darius Pridgen, who now goes by the title “Bishop” at True Bethel, an entrepreneuring church with three locations, a Subway restaurant, and rental real estate holdings.
The church has grown into a multi-million dollar enterprise at a time when it’s charismatic pastor has become distant from his congregation. In the last four years, Pridgen has spent more of his time entertaining the region’s wealthiest power brokers in his role as Council President.
That he lives in a waterfront condo — seemingly worlds away from the struggling district — doesn’t endear him to voters. Some congregants say that the pinstripe suits and Cadillacs can be, at times anyway, off putting. HIs recent marriage to a 24 year old young woman who grew up in his church stirred much controversy in the black community, where the pastor’s wife is thought to be an esteemed position in the community, presumed to be a wise older woman.
Pews haven’t been as full as they once were at his Sunday services and rumor has it that tidings have been light in recent months. A high profile feud in which he attacked a respected social justice activist, Katrinna Martin-Bordeaux, could be to blame. The bishop’s name calling played out on Facebook as the black community followed along, post for post. It culminated with a sermon that Pridgen delivered in which he attacked “Jezebel,” the biblical rouge, in a way that made obvious he was speaking about Mrs. Martin-Bordeaux. The whole episode has shaken the church, revealing to a confused congregation deep issues of vanity, self-aggrandizement, and narcism in its leader.
Heard has stayed above the fray and has been relentlessly positive. He is fresh off a listening tour and a campaign to raise awareness about urban blight in the district.
With a team of volunteers, he has been hard at work cleaning up streetscapes in neighborhoods that have long been forgotten by city hall. His style is a remarkable contrast with the more flamboyant and theatrical behavior of the incumbent.