Sean Booker

Sean Booker
World Trade Center

Minister to His Flock

Sean Booker was a troubleshooting technician for Xerox, but his hours away from the job were concentrated on fixing something much dearer to him than office machinery: troubled souls. Mr. Booker, 35, was an ordained minister with his own flock at the Tabernacle Outreach No. 2 in Newark, a vocation he decided to pursue during his 20's. "Everything he did was church-related," said his older sister, Stacey Booker. "He was a true minister of God."

Three nights a week were designated for Bible study classes, he preached two services each Sunday, and also provided an ersatz shuttle service for any churchgoers in need of transportation.

Whatever spare time was left he spent with his three children: Mr. Booker was a twin, and he and his wife, Sharon, had a set of three-year-old twins and another son, five. Though he'd pounded the inner city basketball courts in Newark with the rest of the neighborhood boys and also played football, Mr. Booker abandoned sports for spirituality.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 4, 2001.

Sean Booker, 35, of Newark, an inspiring preacher

The Rev. Louis Brackett vividly recalls meeting Sean Booker for the first time 13 years ago. The pastor was holding a revival outside his church on West End Avenue in Newark.

Among his hearers was Mr. Booker, a few years out of his teens, who was living across the street.

"Sean was sitting on his stoop, listening," Brackett remembered. "When we were done, he came over and told me, 'I like what you had to say.' A month later, he'd accepted Jesus and said this was where he wanted to pray."

It wasn't long before Mr. Booker began spending many of his free moments at the Tabernacle Outreach Ministry, initially serving as an usher. Over time, he would become a member of the finance department and an assistant pastor when the church moved to Chancellor Avenue.

"I'm left-handed, so you could say he was my left-hand man," Brackett said. "He was at the church all the time. Whenever I wasn't there, he was in full charge."

Two years ago, Mr. Booker was set up in a storefront church on 18th Avenue to preside over a congregation of two dozen. He was so good at preaching he even once converted a drug dealer.

"Sean reached out, bonded with him and saved him," said Brackett.

A Xerox technician, Mr. Booker was on the 93rd floor of the North Tower when it was struck by a hijacked plane Sept. 11. At the time, he was assigned to the offices of Marsh & McLennan.

A lifelong resident of Newark who graduated from Vailsburg High School, Mr. Booker was 35. He'd been working at the World Trade Center for three years. According to his wife, Sharon, it was Mr. Booker's practice to hold a prayer service at work each morning at 8:45, around the time the plane struck the building.

She said she watched the disaster in horror from the Metropolitan Life building on Park Avenue in Manhattan, where she was in her second day on the job in the property manager's office.

"I called Sean at his desk and beeped him but never got a call back," Mrs. Booker recalled. "He would always respond to my page within a minute. When I didn't hear anything, I knew something was wrong."

In addition to his wife, Mr. Booker is survived by three children, Sean Jr., 5, and twins, Denzel and Danielle, 3; his mother, Rose; a brother, Keith King; and sisters, Wendaline Yusuf, Lavern Montlouis, Stacey, and his twin, Sonya. All the family members are from Newark.

Memorial services will be held at the Bethany Baptist Church, 275 West Market St., Newark, at 11 a.m. on Nov. 17.

Profile by Guy Sterling published in THE STAR-LEDGER.

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