Sandy Bland has been serving as the new pastor at El Dorado's Riverside Church of God in Christ since December 2016. Earlier this month, the Church of God in Christ state bishop sent Bland a certification from the church's national level to be Riverside's official senior pastor.
Before becoming the pastor, Bland served as an elder at the church for about two years. He wants Riverside to be a force of spiritual encouragement in El Dorado.
"First of all, [I] always [want] spiritual teaching – spiritual uplifting – there. Also, my second goal is to reach out to the community, you know, let the community know that we're here," he said.
Bland emphasized the importance of being a servant in the community, and he said he’d like to partner with other pastors and churches in the city. Riverside Church of God in Christ has been in El Dorado for around 90 years. Before Bland, Charles Thomas Williams was the pastor for 21 years. As Williams is 81 years old, he retired in December, and Bland then succeeded him as pastor.