Meet ServiCom’s Founder: Rev. Dr. David Jefferson Sr., Esq.

David Jefferson (Source: Metropolitan Baptist Church, Newark, NJ http://www.mbcnewarknj.org/aboutus/ourpastor/index.php)

David Jefferson (Source: Metropolitan Baptist Church, Newark, NJ http://www.mbcnewarknj.org/aboutus/ourpastor/index.php)

The Reverend Dr. David Jefferson Sr., Esquire is the founder, chairman, chief executive officer and president of JNET Communications LLC, which he established in 2003 and which  “includes among its family of companies” Vitel Communications, ServiCom and ServiCom Canada — all of which are now listed as “debtors” in court documents related to the firm’s October 19 Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

According to Jefferson’s bio on Bloomberg (his bio on the JNET website having disappeared — along with the rest of the JNET website):

[Jefferson] has more than 30 years of experience in a wide range of operating and management roles at [AT]&T and Comcast. He served as an Executive Vice President, Business Services of AT&T Broadband. He served as Vice President, Consumer Operations of AT&T where he was responsible for managing customer care and directing installation services. He has been a Vice Chairman of SBLI USA Mutual Life Insurance Company Inc. since April 2010 and serves as its Director.

But there’s another side to Jefferson — he’s also Senior Pastor of of the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey where his wife, Linda Susan Mouton-Jefferson, is First Lady  and his son and three daughters (the First Family) also have roles. 

 

Can I Get an Amen?

I watched some of his sermons on YouTube this week. The bankruptcy proceedings, which began on October 19, have not interrupted his preaching. His most recent video — a sermon given on December 3 — was posted on December 6, the  very day the ServiCom centers in Sydney and Machesney Park, Illinois closed their doors. It’s impossible to watch now without interpreting everything he says through the filter of the closures. When, for example, during that December 3 address he proclaims:

…I don’t care how holy and how strong you might be, there are some disappointments in life. There are some hardships in life. There are some things in life that will absolutely rock your boat.

It’s impossible not to remember that three days later, his company would abruptly close its doors in Sydney and Illinois, rocking some boats pretty hard in the process. It’s also impossible not to see the irony in the message that flashes across the screen as Pastor Jefferson discusses hardship:

Text INSPIRED to (973) 737-9855

Giving Made Simple — Gold bless you!

 

But being down and out in the Rev. Jefferson’s world is just a prelude to being raised up, or as he puts it (in what seems to be something of a tag line):

If you want something, you gotta go through something. If you want to get blessed, you gotta get broken.

Jefferson expounds on the theme in a sermon I would dearly like to see him deliver to an audience of recently laid-off ServiCom workers:

[E]ven though you might be experiencing a hardship. You may be going through a trial and a tribulation. The enemy might be trying to attack you on every hand. But if you think about the God of Abraham, of Isaac and Jacob, that put food on your table, clothes on your back, shoes on your feet. Paid your mortgage when you were broke. Tell a neighbor, “If I got through that back then, then I’m going to hold onto his hand and say, ‘If you did it for me one time you can sure enough do it for me again.'”

I honestly have to wonder if that degree of religious belief doesn’t amount to what the businesspeople call “moral hazard” — a tendency to take risks because you know someone else will clean up after you. Would you really worry about stiffing your workers for a few weeks’ pay if you believed, as Jefferson does, that God will pay their mortgages?

Then again, he sometimes seems to be talking about himself and his own current situation — forced to ask not the Lord but the Connecticut Bankruptcy Court for protection from his creditors:

So I need you right now to give [God] the praise for what he’s already done and say, “Thank you. You didn’t have to do it. I don’t deserve it. But you have been faithful. Even in my mess. You made a way out of no way, even when I didn’t deserve it.”

 

Employment Ministry

But the hardest-to-read material on the Metropolitan Baptist Church website in light of the ServiCom situation has to be the Employment Ministry section. According to Pastor Jefferson:

The Employment ministry is designed to help the people of God overcome difficulties in finding employment…glimmers of God’s favor have begun to show through the darkness; people are beginning to get jobs. We know the bondage of unemployment is being broken.”

The site continues:

” … for the people had a mind to work.”  Nehemiah 4:6b

Pastor Jefferson’s vision for the Employment Ministry is that every eligible adult member of the Metropolitan Baptist Church family, as well as the community we serve has favorable employment and we endeavor to achieve this end. We are very passionate about our goals and objectives and will make every effort to aid and support you with your job search.

I can’t say this for sure, but I think it’s possible that the people in Pastor Jefferson’s congregation in Newark, New Jersey are entirely unaware of his Chapter 11 trials and tribulations which are playing out in a court in Connecticut. The ServiCom closures don’t seem to be getting much media coverage outside Sydney, N.S. and Rockford, Illinois, so it’s entirely possible Jefferson’s congregants are not distracted, as they listen to his sermons, by thoughts of his unemployed and unpaid workers.

 

 

But surely Pastor Jefferson himself must spare a thought for them. There’s an email contact for him on his website, so on Monday, I sent him a message, identifying myself and asking if he had any words of advice for the people thrown out of work as a result of his company’s bankruptcy.

As of press time, he had not replied.

 

 

 

 

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