Aeneas Williams is known by many as a football player. During his 14-year career, he made eight Pro Bowl appearances, was a four-time First Team All-Pro and was a part of the 2001 NFC Championship team.
Throughout his playing career and after retirement, he has amplified the positive platform that comes along with being a successful pro athlete and made an even greater impact through his ministries as a pastor.
Williams made his personal commitment to Jesus Christ during his junior year at Southern University. During his playing career, he would hear his teammates talk about struggles they were enduring and would be there to help them address those situations. Williams retired in 2004 and remained involved in his former teammates’ lives and the church. Then, in 2007, he and his wife Tracy decided to start a ministry of their own.
“We sensed in our hearts that we were to start this ministry,” Williams said. “Our first service was with my wife and our four children in our basement and it’s been growing ever since. It’s been a wonderful ride and a rich experience.”
In addition to weekly service at The Spirit Church, Williams and his wife each lead a monthly bible study. Williams leads a men’s program called The Men’s Locker Room, and Tracy leads a study for women called Wonder Women. These ministries are open to men and women of all ages throughout the St. Louis area, including non-Spirit Church members. Each ministry discusses relative topics that Pastor Williams and other various speakers feel are fitting and beneficial for the participants.
“Sometimes I share the topic and I bring in successful others to share the principles in their lives that they’ve used to help them be successful,” Williams said. “The speakers, through the scriptures, share what God has to say to men, but also the relevance of communicating to the men and women, just the practical experiences of life.”
The Williams’ shape these events so that they are comfortable and inviting to all people by incorporating information that can be useful regardless of religious beliefs.
“Allowing those events to really have reality, as well as practical experience that the men and women can use to be successful in life is crucial,” Williams said.
Williams is also passionate about speaking to corporations, pro sports teams, and NFL programs, in addition to working with the league office. Recently, Williams spoke at the 2013 NFL Rookie Symposium in Aurora, Ohio.
“That experience is near and dear to my heart,” Williams said. “The game has changed, the rules have changed and things like that but players still go through similar things. So being able to share some of my prior experiences, both successful and not so successful, and encouraging those guys to maximize their time in the league and the opportunities that they have in connection with the NFL Player Engagement office, has truly been a wonderful experience.”
Williams shared one of the key messages that he spoke to the NFL rookie class about at the symposium. He asked the rookies, ‘Where do you think you can find the most wealth in the world?’
“Some would say in the heart, some Dubai – a number of places, but the answer I’m looking for, I ultimately had to give them, is the cemetery,” said Williams. “Most people go to the grave without fully reaching their potential, so potential inventions, books never written, athletes never seen or only seen for a short period of time (lie there).’
“I really wanted to encourage the guys that while you have this opportunity, which is only one percent of all high school players, to leverage this opportunity, take advantage of this opportunity, be very respectful to those that support the game, begin – when you start – to think about leaving because the game always ends sooner, many times, than most players are ready for it.”
Through his ministries and events such as the symposium, Williams has had time to talk with current Rams, including the 2013 rookie class, and he believes the team is in good shape. He shared his one fundamental characteristic to a successful team based on his experiences.
“One of the hallmarks of the teams that had success were great players that were very unselfish and were very team orientated, which makes for something special or the potential for something special when that happens,” Williams said.
When he isn’t working, Williams enjoys being a husband and a father to his four children: Saenea (16), Tirzah (14), Cheyenne (8), and son Lazarus (12).
“It’s their time now,” Williams said. “I’m putting in what I need to put in, I’m making sure they get the aptitude that my parents afforded to me.”
The Williams family has made St. Louis home since he moved here to join the Rams in 2001.
“St. Louis is No. 1, a great place to raise a family,” Williams said. “The fans are awesome, even post-career. It’s a wonderful congregation, a wonderful group of people. This is a wonderful place to make home.”