Pastor Ted P. Collins ’74 exemplifies many of the values that were so important in Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy. Ted is a pastor of the Renewed Life Fellowship Church in Moreno Valley, CA. His life work is grounded in positively transforming lives and communities of color. In addition to Ted’s work in the ministry, he is also CEO of the Lord’s Gym MoVal, a non-profit organization that offers a safe environment that inspires young people to be their best, improve overall well-being, and to pursue educational and employment opportunities. His commitment to criminal justice is evident as president of Cops and Clergy Network, Moreno Valley. Ted also coached high school football, baseball, and track. In addition, in 2022, Ted joined the Berkshire School Alumni DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) Council.
After graduating from Berkshire, Ted attended University of California, Davis and in 1995, completed his divinity training at Rhema Bible Training College in Tulsa, OK. He and his wife, Valinda, who is co-pastor at the same church, have been married for 49 years. They have six children and 18 grandchildren.
As we honor Martin Luther King Day, a federal holiday designated as a National Day of Service, read more about Ted’s work and his commitment to community service following in Dr. King’s legacy, in the Q and A below.
So much of your work seems community driven. Can you tell us why you feel strongly about making an impact on your community?
I grew up as an only child, raised by my grandparents in Stamford, CT. To overcome my loneliness, I would engage with my community at any chance I could get. I was a member of The Boys Club and the YMCA. It was very inspiring to witness members of our community that were committed to volunteering their time to help young people like myself.
In what ways do you commemorate Dr. King’s legacy through your work?
I remember Dr. King coming through Stamford, CT in the '60s, speaking about housing co-ops. I recall watching him and loved what he spoke about and the work he was trying to accomplish. I came to Berkshire School 18 months after he was assassinated. After Dr. King's death, I became even more aware of his commitment for community and love. It inspired me to follow in his footsteps to try and make a difference in some way. In college, I even pledged to Dr. King's fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, and met Coretta Scott King.
When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in the clergy?
There was a point in my life when I had a functioning drug addiction. When I finally overcame my addiction, I felt the calling to help others, and never looked back. In 1995 I entered divinity school, and my life took a complete turn.
How you have helped young people to pursue a more productive life through educational and employment opportunities?
We started the Lord’s Gym by raising pennies back in 1999. The organization serves youth at risk within our community. We try to educate these young people by offering them computers, help with jobs, and teaching them skills like carpentry and plumbing. I believe we can change the fabric of our community by helping our youth. If we can get our youth on board, our future looks bright!
Can you tell us about your work as president of the Cops and Clergy Network?
I have been president of the Cops and Clergy Network for ten years and have been with the organization for 17 years. I chair the committee with the chief of police. Our work includes riding along with the police to be available to the families of the incarcerated. These family members may be in need of food, clothing, and shelter. We help to build a bridge between the police department and the community. We have also wrapped toys and gifts and offered a tree-lighting service during the holidays.
How has your Berkshire experience impacted your life?
Berkshire was good exposure for me and provided a great educational foundation that I was able to build on. I have since been able to provide a similar foundation to my children who have now moved on to accomplish doctorates and master’s degrees from exceptional universities.
What are your fondest memories of Berkshire?
I had many meaningful friendships at Berkshire with people like Jay Washington ’72, whom I still keep in touch with. I also remember the first time I came to campus from the inner city of Stamford, CT. I saw that long driveway and originally thought, “Where are they taking me?”