As Related in Breaking Down Walls by Raleigh Washington and Glen Kehrein
- Came from the Jacksonville, Florida projects where the only white people he knew were the insurance man who came to collect the bill and the policeman who arrested a friend’s father. Neighbors watched out for Raleigh and his half brother while his single mother worked nights. Although she was married and divorced four times during his childhood (neither of their fathers), the church they attended did not address life style and the need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ was not discussed.
- Attended segregated all-black schools but excelled because he wasn’t going to let the girls beat the boys.
- Went to college because of his competitive spirit. He worked two jobs his freshman year at Florida A & M university but couldn’t afford books so he had to use his friends’ after they were done.
- Tried out for the baseball team as a walk-on and made the team. At the end of the year he was informed he had earned a full baseball scholarship that covered all college expenses. The Chicago Cubs offered him a minor league contract after his second year but he turned them down because he wanted to complete his degree in psychology.
- At ROTC summer camp before his senior year, he had his first peer relationship with a white guy who intentionally ignored the Jim Crow traditions, even drinking from Raleigh’s canteen.(1959)
- Received a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army at graduation. After his three years of service, he decided to make it his career.He decided to beat the racism in the Army by knowing the regulations inside out and complying to the letter. He gave his superiors what they wanted, often before they asked, being careful to remain consistent with the regulations. Raleigh went from success to success in the army–he was on track to become a general. But white officers that he had shown up or reassigned kept trying to find charges against him.
- Met his wife Paulette in North Carolina in 1968. In 1979, Paulette accepted Christ as her personal savior and two weeks later Raleigh found peace in Christ.
- In May 1980 he went before a board of review in Atlanta on the basis of three minor charges but the board reported to the Pentagon that he had engaged in “conduct unbecoming for an officer.”
- Three days before he reached 20 years of service (which would have guaranteed a pension on retirement) he received a formal offer from the Pentagon: “Retire ‘in lieu’ of being discharged.” To accept it was admitting guilt to these allegations. He chose to take a ‘less than honorable discharge’ with no benefits.
- Serving at Fort Sheridan when he was discharged and receiving no moving allowance, they stayed in Illinois. He had had a growing desire to preach God’s word, but knew he needed training. Since he couldn’t find a job, he started seminary at nearby Trinity Evangelical Divinity School(now Trinity International University). Having no job and a family of seven, he had no idea how long he could study there. Several times unexpected help got the bills paid, indicating to him that God wanted him there.
- After graduation in 1983 the Evangelical Free Church denomination asked him to consider planting a church in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, working with Circle Community Center (now Circle Urban Ministries). He was introduced to Glen Kehrein and Glen said the new church could meet in the CCC building. A series of circumstances indicated to them that this was where Raleigh should be, so they gingerly started to work together.
The story of their partnership is continued in Rock Church History.
Raleigh Washington left Rock Church in 1998 to join Promise Keepers.