Pastor Rickey T. Laster fought a good fight, finished his course and kept the faith as a loving and nurturing husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, uncle, friend and Pastor. He was a God-fearing, genuine and authentic individual. His journey to Christ was filled with many trials and tribulations. With the exception of Pastor Emeritus Barnes, many individuals never imagined that he would become a minister or even a pastor of a church. However, what God had destined for him, no man could prevent from unfolding. God knew He would use him to help hurting people find a new hope, a new way, and a new life through Jesus Christ. His impact on his family, the New Assurance Baptist Church and the greater San Diego community was far reaching and game-changing. Lives were transformed, businesses thrived, gang violence was curtailed, and communities were revitalized because of this true servant of God.
Pastor Rickey T. Laster was born the first child of Othell and Blanchie Laster on March 30, 1954, in Augusta, Arkansas. In 1960, his family relocated to San Diego. Pastor Laster gave his life to Christ at a young age while attending Ark Missionary Baptist Church where Reverend Pleasant served as his pastor. He attended Baker and Knox Elementary Schools, Memorial Junior High School and Lincoln High School. He was a proud Lincoln “Hornet” and member of the graduating Class of 1972.
While in high school, Pastor Laster excelled in sports and launched his singing career. You could find Pastor Laster and his friends imitating the Temptations and Four Tops during talent shows and at local southern CA venues. They later became known as the “Quiet Fire.” Upon graduation, Pastor Laster enlisted in the U.S. Marines and served honorably until 1977.
In 1977, Pastor Laster fathered his daughter, Levana. Levana and her brother, Lonnell, were a very bright light during challenging years for Pastor Laster.
Shortly thereafter, Pastor Laster began a successful career in the construction industry. He was the first African American master roofer in the Roofers Union and then established the Multi-Cultural Contractors Group (MCCG) in 1996. MCCG served as an advocate for contractors and construction workers of color. Notably, Pastor Laster was instrumental in ensuring they participated in the building of the San Diego Convention Center, Petco Park, the San Diego International Airport expansion, the new Lincoln High School, the San Diego Library and Market Creek Plaza. Pastor Laster received the Minority Small Business Advocate of the Year and the Multi-Cultural Heritage Award for his trailblazing work.
In 1995, Pastor Laster married his soulmate, Linda Robinson. She was his “One In A Million!” ! He often said it was one of the wisest decisions he ever made. To this union was born their pride and joy, “Lil’ Rickey T. Laster, Jr.” He also gained two sons, Arrow and Alfred. They built an extraordinary home, ministry and life together.
In the same year, Pastor Laster recommitted his life to Christ at Blessed Assurance Baptist Church under the leadership of Reverend Greg Brown. His desire to know more about Jesus and his thirst for God’s word was evident. It was just a matter of time before Reverend Brown asked Pastor Laster to serve as a Deacon and subsequently he decided to publicly acknowledge his call to the ministry.
In 2005, Reverend Brown ordained Pastor Laster as a Baptist minister. After being ordained, Pastor Laster became an Associate Pastor of Blessed Assurance. He faithfully served Pastor Brown and the Blessed Assurance congregation. In 2006, the New Faith Baptist Church and Reverend Brown of the Blessed Assurance Church approached Pastor Laster to consider pastoring their churches. Pastor and First Lady Laster prayerfully sought God’s guidance and Godly counsel from fellow clergy. After hearing from God, they accepted their new assignment from the Lord. In 2007, they prayerfully merged the two congregations into the New Assurance Baptist Church.
God used Pastor Laster, with the First Lady by his side, in building New Assurance into a beacon of hope. He baptized over 300 new believers, established countless outreach ministries and added an additional worship service. In April of this year, Pastor and First Lady Laster celebrated twelve years of faithfully serving in the ministry and ten years as the shepherds of New Assurance.
Also, in 1995, after attending the historic Million Man March, Pastor Laster honored God’s call to organize Black Men United. Black Men United, an inter-faith effort, served as a bridge between young African American boys and men. It focused on curtailing gang violence that had become rampant in southeastern San Diego. He received many awards and acknowledgments for his leadership of Black Men United including the Channel 10 ABC-KGTV Leadership Award and Jackie Robinson YMCA Human Dignity Award.
Over the years, Pastor Laster served as a trusted advisor to several local and statewide elected officials and several professional athletes. He also previously served on various statewide boards and commissions.
At the time of his untimely death, Pastor Laster served as the Executive Director of the City of San Diego’s Commission on Gang Prevention and Intervention. He received this appointment from Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Pastor Laster was uniquely qualified for this appointment and was determined to eradicate the pipeline to prison for young boys of color in the San Diego community.
Pastor Laster’s real joy and satisfaction came from the thirty years he spent with his wife, First Lady Laster. They truly loved each other. It was always a treat to watch the twinkle in Pastor Laster’s eyes when she walked into a room or he got a glimpse of her from the corner of his eye. He knew she was the rock and foundation of their marriage, their family and their ministry. He loved and cherished their children and their grandchildren and prayed daily that they would one day work with him in God’s vineyard.
He was a family man. He supported his children and grandchildren in their extra-curricular activities and enjoyed taking them to San Diego Padre games. He also spent time with and admired his siblings and relatives. He would reach out to family members locally and across the country just to tell them he loved them.
Pastor Laster cherished his God given gift as a vocalist. You would find him joining the choir in praise and worship on Sunday mornings. After re-dedicating their lives to Christ, many of the “Quiet Fire” members formed the “Men of Assurance” and released a gospel CD in 2008.
He was an avid golfer who golfed at least once a week. He also enjoyed fishing, traveling, fine dining and periodically exercised his culinary skills. He and First Lady believed in weekend getaways at local resorts to remain on their life-long honeymoon.
After a rich, meaningful and purposeful life journey, God called Pastor Laster home on May 29th. God commended Pastor Laster for his faithful service and job well done. He was preceded in death by his parents, Othell & Blanchie Laster. He leaves to celebrate a life well lived his wife, First Lady Linda Laster; his children, Levana Laster, Lonnell Walls, Arrow Morris, Alfred Morris II & Rickey T. Laster, Jr.; his grandchildren, DeAndre, Tyson, Andre, Jamir, Lyric, Avery & Harmony; his sister, Brenda Laster-Brown (Pastor Greg Brown) & his brothers, Reverend Glen Laster (Carolyn), Terrance Laster, Andrew Laster, Kenny Glover (Sofia) & Freddie Horne; his mother - in-law, Betty Robinson; his sister-in-laws, Vickey Wallace & Andrea Bingham, & his brother-in-law, Gordon Lovette; and, a host of nephews, nieces, cousins & friends.