FACTORYVILLE-Pastor Paul Fields of the First Baptist Church of Factoryville has lead an interesting life that has taken him from the music of Motown to the birthplace of baseball Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson.
While attending the University of Michigan, a job Fields took in order to “eat” led to much bigger things.
“I worked at the small Hi-Fi company LAHTI, installing high-end sound systems into the homes of high profile people, including the Chairman of the Board at Ford Motor Company,” Fields said. “Then, Berry Gordy, who founded Motown Records, came to us for special Bozak speakers. I wound up going to work for Motown, working on their recording equipment… with all the artists fine tuning their songs, tuning and setting up the equipment.
“It was a rather unique time in the world,” he added. “I was a white person working for a black company, when it was usually the other way around. I was very fortunate to meet Stevie Wonder, The Temptations and Diana Ross before they were all stars.”
Fields also met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. right after his “I Have A Dream” speech was given in Washington D.C. The speech was recorded by Motown Records.
A new vehicle provided Fields with the opportunity of a lifetime: driving Motown stars around Detroit.
“Dr. King was a very, very nice and a very pleasant man,” Fields said. “Believe it or not, Motown was a little company and I had a brand new car, a Plymouth Valiant. Because it was brand new, I wound up being the chauffeur for Martin Luther King Jr.’s family while they were around.
“I’ve just been very fortunate,” Fields said. “That was a blessing. I really had a wonderful time with his family. I got to drive them around and talk with them. That was a neat experience, as well as all of the other things that happened at Motown.
“I think so many people tend to forget that he was also a pastor. If you look at the venues where most of his quoted sayings took place, they were within a church. He was very passionate about the things that were going on, not only in the United States, but in the world. His dream wasn’t just for the United States, it was for everyplace.”
Although many of Dr. King’s more publicized speeches may come to mind, Fields remembers another one that Dr. King made at a church.
“One thing he said that touched me was when he spoke about the story of the Good Samaritan,” the pastor said. “He said, the first people that came up looked at the man and they said, ‘If I touch him, what will it do to me?’ They were more concerned about becoming unclean and dirty. Then, the Good Samaritan looked at the man and said, ‘If I don’t help him, what will happen to him?’
“To me, I think that was very profound,” he added. “I’ve used it a number of times in sermons.”
Fields believes the verse of the Good Samaritan epitomized Dr. King’s character.
“That’s the verse that I think really makes a point to why I think he spoke out,” he said. “And that’s the way he lived his life. He listened to the people rather than expected the people to listen to him and he was very passionate about it. He saw something that was wrong and acted with moral authority.”
Fields and his wife, Georgeanna, have moved 17 times during their lifetime.
“I’ve been very fortunate, I had an opportunity to travel all over and meet so many different cultures,” he said. “You see that people are the same. I doesn’t make any difference where you go, they have the same aspirations.”
Fields shared a memory of driving Diana Ross and the Supremes home late at night.
“They would go to high schools and different places to sing,” he said. “I remember bringing them home in the middle of the night in downtown Detroit when they were still young girls living in the projects. I pulled up in front of the house and one mom hung her head out the window as I dropped them off. That was just an amazing thing.”
The pastor also reflected on the mischief and majesty of a young Stevie Wonder.
“I knew Stevie Wonder when he was just a small boy,” Fields said. “At Motown, there were two buildings. There was the part where we did the studio recordings and next door was where all the copyrighting was done. A set of stairs went down into the basement where we cut the records. If you saw Little Stevie, who was 13 at the time, and said ‘Hi’ to him while walking down the stairs. You had to be prepared because he used to carry a squirt gun and he could hit you right between the eyes.”
The first time he did it, he caught me completely off guard,” Fields added. “After that, I knew enough to say ‘Hi’ and move my head real quick.”
According to Fields, even as a child, Wonder was a master of his craft.
“One night, I was setting up the system for a session and he came in,” he said. “It was pitch black, he walked in, got up on the organ with his harmonica and did a rendition of Moon River. I used to love that song, and a little kid sitting there performing it was just amazing. He was a nice kid.”
Fields became a pastor in 1995 and has previously served in churches in Bayonne and Lakewood, New Jersey.
He turned to ministry after a failed business venture.
“My wife and I had a business and the federal government was making some transitions,” Fields said. “We made the choice of people over profit and basically lost everything. I had to do a lot of deciding what to do next. A door opened up for me to go to a Seminary. I’ve always had strong faith and try to follow what the Lord wants me to do.”
Fields is quite sure that this will be his last move. He has been pleased working in the town and nearby college.
“I spent quite a bit of time in prayer when I was looking for a new church,” he said. “God just opened up a door, I ended up getting five different calls at once. The one thing they had here was the association with Keystone College. They had just started a program called The Listening Post. I’ve also enjoyed a collegiate atmosphere and working with people who are looking to better themselves. That was one of the turning factors, plus the fact that my son, Charles, lives in New Jersey.
“It’s been a great opportunity.”