E. Dewey Smith’s House of Hope names 19-y-o social media star Kelontae Gavin as worship pastor

E. Dewey Smith Jr., senior pastor of The House of Hope Atlanta (Greater Travelers Rest) church in Decatur, Georgia (L) and his new worship pastor, Kelontae Gavin, 19.
E. Dewey Smith Jr., senior pastor of The House of Hope Atlanta (Greater Travelers Rest) church in Decatur, Georgia (L) and his new worship pastor, Kelontae Gavin, 19. | Photo: Facebook

Nearly five years after he went viral singing “I Won’t Complain” in his high school cafeteria, 19-year-old social media sensation-turned-recording-artist Kelontae Gavin was announced as the new worship pastor of the House of Hope Atlanta megachurch on Sunday.

“FAMILY---So proud to announce that my God-son is the NEW @hohatl ‘Worship Pastor’!!!! What God did TODAY at #HOHATL through him was beyond comprehension!!!! FAMILY, help me welcome @kelontae_gavin to ATLANTA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Senior Pastor E. Dewey Smith of the Decatur, Georgia, church revealed in a post on social media.

The teenager also praised Smith in a post on Instagram for welcoming him into the 12,000-member House of Hope family and being sensitive to the “voice of God.”

“I’m beyond grateful to call HOHATL my new family ‼ Thank you pastor @edeweysmith for your sensitivity to the spirit and the voice of God,” he wrote along with a clip from the Sunday service showing churchgoers running around with excitement.

Many members and supporters, like New Jersey deacon Antoine McGee of Bethany Baptist Church, had warm words for Gavin online.

“Proud of you lil big brother @kelontae_gavin. I’ll never forget the day we met in a little church in NJ. We danced together and then you came to my church and blessed us. Been my brother ever since. I pray God breathe on you as He expands your territory and uses you in a fresh way for the generations you must reach they are HUNGER (sic) and you shall feed them. Be strong and courageous,” McGee wrote.

Gavin became a viral sensation in 2014 after he was recorded singing the Rev. Paul Jones’ “I Won’t Complain” by a lunch lady in his school cafeteria in Summerville, South Carolina. Two years later, he was signed to Tyscot Records and released his first single, “Higher.”   

“I’m a church boy,” Gavin told The New York Times in an interview at the time about his decision to stick to his Christian roots. “Secular music wouldn’t have been for me. I’d have been out of key, uncomfortable.”

In 2018, he released his debut album, The Higher Experience. His single, “No Ordinary Worship,” spent 48 weeks on the Billboard Gospel Airplay chart and accumulated over 10 million streams.

This year, he has been nominated for awards in the upcoming 34th annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards ceremony, which will take place March 29 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. He's up for Male Vocalist of the Year, Contemporary Male Vocalist of the Year, Contemporary CD of the Year and Praise and Worship CD of the Year for his debut album.

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