“When he was just a boy, I could hear him preaching in the bathroom,” she said. “I had to tell him to hush.”
The decision by her eldest son, Ernest, was a bit more of a surprise. It took him a bit longer to get the calling.
Each Sunday morning, the Columbus woman has a decision to make and that is which son to go hear preach.
Ernest Snead IV is pastor at Faithful Missionary Baptist Church in Phenix City, Georgia. Carlos Snead is pastor at Faithful Missionary Baptist Church in Columbus, Georgia. Both churches average more than 100 people at Sunday services.
The brothers were born and raised in Columbus and are graduates of Spencer High School.
“I am proud of them and try to go to both churches,” said their mom.
Her husband, Ernest Snead III, died in 2012. A pastor for about 30 years, he founded the Phenix City church a son now leads.
Neither parent pushed their boys toward the ministry. A third son, Tramaine, is a forklift operator in Virginia.
“I know how hard a job being a pastor can be,” she said.
The sons agree.
“You have to be called to this job,” said Carlos Snead, 34, who celebrates his first year at his church on Sunday. Previously, he has served as pastor at three Alabama churches.
“You have to have the right temperament to deal with the people. Everyone wants something different,” said Ernest Snead, 36, who is in his fifth year as pastor of his church.
The Sneads say it can be a struggle pleasing the older members who like things a little more traditional and the younger ones who want a church to be more modern and offer much in the way of activities.
Ernest Snead was not sure he wanted the job. He recalled his father asking him about taking the new role as pastor.
“I told him no,” he said.
His father’s death just two days later played a role in changing his mind.
Ernest Snead got involved with church work while stationed in Hawaii with the U.S. Air Force.
“My wife, Korri, and I got leadership positions at a church there,” he said.
Coming back, he was made a deacon and worked under his father in Phenix City.
The sons recall their father as a “powerful, dynamic speaker.”
While neither is a clone of him, both are animated in the pulpit.
Carlos Snead said the best advice his father gave him was to love the people.
“He told me to be myself and to go with my own strengths,” he said.
Most of all, he told his son to stay “prayed up.”
The mother gave advice, as well.
“I told both of them to put their heart into it, and be faithful in what they are doing,” she said. “Give the people all that they have.”
And she feels that advice has been followed.
“I feel really blessed to have two sons in the ministry following in my husband’s footsteps, blessed to have them in the Columbus area ,” she said. “If he were alive, my husband would be happy and he would let you know it, too.”
“It is great to look at the congregation and see mama’s face out there,” Carlos Snead said.
Ernest Snead nodded his head in agreement.
And Mary Jo Snead may have another pastor to support one day. Her grandson Jamir is already looking toward a life in the ministry.