Today we’d like to introduce you to Cedric Nelms.
Cedric, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am a native of Los Angeles. It is funny to say that these days amongst the different circles that I maneuver and operate in throughout the city. Los Angeles is a big city that has folks from different cities that move here for the two seasons (Spring and Summer) that we happen to experience regularly. So, when I meet people and they ask where I am from, it brings about a cool conversation about how has it been growing up and living in LA. I was born in the City of Inglewood, before moving to Ladera Heights with my parents. I grew up on the Westside and went to high school at St. Bernard High in Playa Del Rey. I grew up playing sports at local parks throughout Inglewood—Rodgers Park, Darby Park, Centinela Park—where I met some great childhood friends. I grew up during the time where sports was the space that defined your character, sportsmanship, and ability to deal with adversity. I remember we used to have to tryout to play on teams. You weren’t automatically placed on a team. You had to show your skills and get selected to be on a team. That was the breeding ground for, not only competition but the drive to be great at what I would do later in life. After high school, I went to Morehouse College. Morehouse was a game changer for me. I went to school with some influential guys that are dear friends to this day. It also taught me about life and how to live life with a plan and a purpose.
When I returned to LA after college, that is where things started to shift in my life. I was supposed to stay in LA for a year or so, but my dad had a heart attack. That incident caused me to stay in LA longer than I had planned. During that time, I started attending church with my parents and that is where I met my future wife. That is not only where I met my wife but that is where my personal ministry started as well.
I always thought that there was a call on my life. At one time, I thought it was to be in the NFL, at another time I thought that it was to be a doctor or pediatrician. I didn’t realize or even have it on my vision board that I would be a pastor and community activist. I have been on a course of discovery, not only about who I am but what is my purpose. I have always asked the question what am here for and what I am supposed to do with my talent, strength, and skills. I have come to accept the fact that I am supposed to use my talents and skills to be a bridge builder. This is not a term that I created but I now know that I am a hope dealer.
So, for the last ten years I have been pastoring a church that my wife and I started. We have a group of great people that are part of our ministry family. In addition to pastoring, I have also worked a full-time job for a non-profit Christian Mission Organization. I am what they call a bi-vocational pastor. I have a full-time job and a full-time pastor as well. I joke that I am quad-vocational. I work full-time, pastor a church full-time, been married for 21 years, and father to five beautifully, dope children. My older children range in age from 30s to a set of triplets that are 19 years old. We call them the Accountant, the Producer, the Governor, the Mogul, and the Artist! My wife and kids are the wind beneath my wings. They have always given me the ability to stand to face some difficult times in my life. No matter their ages, they are my babies that are the best part of me. They have given me not only a reason to keep striving for greater but it has given my life more meaning and purpose.
When I returned to LA after college, I worked in the Biotech and Pharmaceutical industry. In college I studied Biology, so I worked in Quality Assurance, Quality Control, Validation, and my last position was doing Research and Development for a Softgel manufacture. I was working these positions while being in ministry at the same time. It allowed me to gain experience but it also made it hard, at times, to do what needed to be done in ministry. One of the hardest things has been being committed to providing for my family, yet be devoted to the calling that God has on my life. I have always found myself trying to balance different aspects of life over the years. In 2014, I took a leap of faith and walked away from my job. I knew that I needed to test my faith! I knew that if I didn’t do it at the time, that I might not have the window of opportunity again. I knew I wanted to be full time in ministry but that I needed to take care of my family as well. So, for a month or so, I was just Netflix and chillin! Until a good friend of asked me to come check out what he was doing for a local non-profit organization. For the last four years, I have been working in the non-profit sector building bridges between local pastors/churches, community agencies, social justice, education, businesses, and civic entities.
Almost two years ago, I was invited to be a part of a cohort dealing with leadership development and youth. I have been with a team of 11 other individuals learning about how to develop a plan to engage, equip, and empower the youth in our respective communities. The last fifteen months, I have been working on a breakthrough plan that will expand my reach to impact the community. I am working on launching a community resource center that will have an academy that will support youth and young adults. In addition to that, I am developing a community development corporation to develop housing, land acquisition, and civic engagement. So, I am adding a social entrepreneur to my resume, along with pastor, husband, and father.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
No, it hasn’t been a smooth road. My mom has always told me that “to whom much is given, much is require.” I didn’t realize the context of the words that she was speaking over my life. My dad has told me that life is about choices. Either you choose to live life in a way that you live to prepare for rainy days or you let rainy days catch you off guard. So, the questions for me has always been what is my purpose and how do I live into it? The defining and discovery of my purpose has been the thorn in my side for some time. I have always struggled with being okay with myself and my abilities. Most people wouldn’t know that I struggle with self-esteem. How I see myself has been a constant struggle until last year. When I left my job in 2014, I was determined to live differently than I had been living up to that point. Up to that point I had lived life in the “What if?” zone. There was an episode of This is Us, where Randal was talking to his therapist about what life would have been like if his adoptive dad hadn’t died after the fire. That is me. I have thought about what would be different if I had finished my college studies on time. I think about what would life have been like if I had focused more on academics and less on sports. I think about what life would have been like if my dad didn’t have a heart attack when I came home in 1997. What would my life have been if I had made different choices. These “what ifs” have been just some of the obstacles in my life. In addition to that, there are those things that happen that are out of your control that can cause roadblocks or take the wind out of your sail, so to speak. My grandmother passed on my anniversary about 17 years ago. That caused me to question God and my faith. I was ready to walk away from the ministry. The other thing that happened in my life was the passing of my daughter Katlyn. My wife and I had quadruplets in addition to our two older children. She didn’t survive childbirth. That was hard for me knowing that I would have to work through losing a child. Yes, we were blessed with three surviving babies but I questioned if it was something that I had done in my life that had caused her not to survive. My life has had twist, turns, ups, and downs but through it all it has made me a better person.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Chosen Generation Fellowship Church – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
I have been the pastor of Chosen Generation Fellowship Church for the last ten years. We took an 18 months hiatus/restructuring period. After that hiatus, we relaunched our ministry in the City of Watts, where we spent a year developing, building, and getting indoctrinated with the community. After a year, we moved our ministry to the City of Long Beach. Our ministry has grown to 40+ since we have been in Long Beach. Our ministry is known as a micro church that is small in numbers but having some great impact in the city. Our motto is “#DoingChurchDifferently”. We have been able to do some awesomely wonderful outreach throughout the city. For Thanksgiving, we have been able to feed close to 100 families over the last two years. We have partnered with Angel Tree to provide toys at Christmas to over two dozen children in Long Beach and the surrounding areas. Our Back to School event has provided 40+ children with school supplies. In addition to that, we have Pink Sunday, honoring Breast Cancer Awareness month. We have Purple Sunday that recognizes Domestic Violence Month. All of these outreach events is our way of doing church differently.
I am proud of our ministry being in a position to do those things that are considered unconventional in nature. We had our Selfie Sunday, where members were encouraged to take selfies with folks throughout the congregation. It was fun seeing people sharing a moment with each other. People are still asking when are going to do another one! Our church being a micro church means that we are more flexible, innovative, and able to create new forms of community engagement. As we move forward in the year, we are planning to launch our Community Resource Center that will address daily needs, education, career development, and health and wellness. This resource center will be a place where youth and transitional aged young adults can develop skills, get connected to mentors, and create educational/entrepreneurial advancement through our academy. Social enterprise will also be the new phase of our ministry as well. We want to help people in the ministry and community to develop businesses that will not only create a profit but will have a social impact on the community. We want to combine entrepreneurship and social enterprise to create Social Entrepreneurship. The main goal of our efforts through our ministry is to ultimately implement widespread improvements in the community. That is what makes me most proud and sets our ministry apart from others, in my humble opinion.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
My future plans…..that is a BIG question! I would say that my plans are to grow our ministry, not only exponentially but spiritually. I want our ministry to reach and meet people where they are and give them some hope. Yes, we want people to be apart of our ministry community but we also want to do that in a different way. We are going to do that through our resource center, social entrepreneurship, and our community development corporation. Helping Hands Community Resource and Legacy Bridge Community Development Corporation are two major projects that I am currently working on to be complete by December 2020. Some other plans are to help my wife develop her own cafe. She has a desire and gift for cooking that when it is shared with others, they always say, “you cook from your soul”. I also want to grow into being a motivational speaker and create our own consulting business. The consulting business will be to help people that want to develop a combination of ministry and business. The last thing is to see how I can involve my children and friends in all of this. I don’t want to get to the mountain top by myself but with those that mean the most to me.
- Address: 5601 Orange Ave
Long Beach, CA 90805
- Website: www.choseng129.org
- Phone: 3109992722
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @ceddy40
- Facebook: @choseng129
- Twitter: @cjnministries