Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shepastor: Honoring Two of our Clergy Sisters who “ROCK,” The Reverend Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook and The Reverend Courtney Clayton Jenkins”

Praise God from whom all blessings flow! The Lord is steadily opening doors that no man can shut and closing doors that no man can open (Revelations 3:8). Although we still have many more mountains to climb and rivers to cross, we must celebrate the tremendous blessings and opportunities that the Lord is making available for female clergy in 2011!

Today, Shepastor honors two distinguished, anointed, powerful, beautiful “clergy sisters” that represent a move of God in the land. The Reverend Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, pastor, author, conference founder, first female president of the historic Hampton Ministers Conference and advocate for human rights has just received another elevation from the Lord. She can now ad, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom to her list!

We also honor a local sister from the Greater Cleveland area, The Reverend Courtney Clayton Jenkins, a beautiful young clergywoman that made history as she became the first woman to be ordained at the historic Mt. Zion Congregational Church, in Cleveland, Ohio. She again made history this past Sunday when she, with all the glory and pageantry of a presidential inauguration was installed as the first African American female to become Senior Pastor of the Euclid Avenue Congregational Church – a church that recently lost its building to a major fire.

Read below to hear more of the blessings and victory in their stories…

Shepastor Honors Two of our Clergy Sisters, The Reverend Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook and The Reverend Courtney Clayton Jenkins

Excerpts taken from the American Baptist News Service, (ABNS)


Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook, an American Baptist pastor and
motivational speaker, was confirmed by the United
States Senate for the post of United States
Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious
Freedom on April 14, 2011.
The position of the
Nation’s top diplomat for religious freedom had
remained vacant since President Obama’s inauguration in January 2009.

On June 15, 2010, the White House originally announced that Obama had tapped Johnson Cook for the position. The nomination expired and Johnson
Cook was not confirmed. Her nomination was officially re-submitted on February 7, 2011.

"Dr. Johnson Cook will bring a passion for
religious liberty rooted in her American Baptist
heritage along with her keen administrative
skills and powerful gifts for communication to
this important position,"
said Dr. A. Roy Medley,
General Secretary of American Baptist Churches USA.

Johnson Cook served as the founding pastor of Bronx Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in New York. Before founding that congregation, from 1983 to 1996, Johnson Cook was pastor of the historic Mariners’ Temple Baptist Church in New York - which meets on the oldest Baptist worship site in Manhattan, dating to 1795. Mariners’ Temple and Bronx Christian Fellowship are both aligned with American Baptist Churches USA, and Johnson Cook’s ordination is through the denomination.

Johnson Cook holds degrees from Emerson College, Columbia University, Union Theological Seminary and United Theological Seminary. She is the owner of Charisma Speakers and has served since 1990 as a chaplain for the New York Police Department. She advised President Clinton on race relations and also advised Obama when he was a senator. The New York Times has called her one of the best preachers in New York and described her as “Billy Graham and Oprah rolled into one!”

The ambassador-at-large position was created in 1998 by the International Religious Freedom Act, to monitor violations of religious freedom abroad and to advise the State Department on how to respond.

(To read more, visit
World Faith News

Also, visit Dr. Johnson Cook’s website at

The Reverend Courtney L. Clayton Jenkins

On Sunday, June 5, 2011, The Reverend Courtney L. Clayton Jenkins was installed as the Pastor of the Euclid Avenue Congregational Church. I was blessed to be in attendance at the service. The evening was electric! A diverse representation of clergymen and clergywomen from across the Greater Cleveland area processed in and participated in the glorious celebration. An orchestra played as the community choir sang “Lift Up Your Heads O Ye Gates,” and the Negro Spiritual, “This Train.” Preachers, teachers, scholars and community leaders arrayed the pulpit to pray, speak blessings, encourage, advise, celebrate and ultimately install our dear sister!

Her congregation lovingly bestowed upon her a gorgeous robe, inclusive of a vestment that adorned their new church logo – a moving and meaningful act that spoke volumes of the journey they’ve already traveled as well as the road that is ahead. Her multicultural, multigenerational, inner-city congregation experienced a tremendous loss when their beautiful, historic edifice was struck by lightening (literally) and burned to the ground. They faced several options that included closing, merging with another congregation or moving forward. They chose to forge ahead, taking another leap of faith, calling a young, strong, no-nonsense, African American “hip-hop” preacher who also happens to be the “first-lady” of her husband’s congregation (The Reverend Corey Jenkins), another historic church in Cleveland – Shiloh Baptist Church!

The installation sermon was delivered by one of her closest mentors, spiritual fathers, and Civil Rights leader, The Reverend Dr. Otis Moss, Jr. who declared, “God is doing a new thing!” (Isaiah 43:19) Pastor Courtney, speaking to the ministers and later to the congregation declared, “Today is the conclusion to the introduction…on Monday we work!”

Pastor Courtney was born and raised in Cleveland Ohio and is a 2004 graduate of Spelman College where she received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. In 2008, Rev. Jenkins received her Masters of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary with a concentration in Preaching and Congregational Ministry.

She previously served as the Designated Pastor of Shaker Heights Community Church, United Church of Christ. She sits on the board of directors for United Black Christians (UBC); helping them to develop leadership training for the next generation of church leadership. Additionally, she serves as a board member for the Local Church Ministries (LCM) board of directors. Rev. Jenkins was honored to serve as the youngest member of the search committee which selected the current General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ. Rev. Jenkins has been done extensive work in church revitalization. Since accepting her calling to ministry, Rev. Jenkins has served several different congregation in a variety of capacities in an effort to support ecumenism.

In November 2001, Rev. Jenkins and a classmate founded HIP 4 HOP Ministries, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit ministry. HIP 4 HOP (Happiness In Praise 4 His Overflowing Presence) works with local churches and other organizations to develop youth and young adult ministries as well as ministry to the “un-churched” and “de-churched.” God is truly using HIP 4 HOP Ministries to prepare the next generation of citizens, leaders and conquers for the Kingdom of God.

She has worked intentionally on anti-racism training, youth rights of passage programs, teaching life skills to those of low-income and teaching African-American history as a form of building up community. Currently, Rev. Jenkins teaches a course on Life Skills to the imprisoned women of Northeast Pre-Release Center. Recently, Rev. Jenkins helped in coordinating a workshop for young adult dating violence in Harlem, NY. She also works diligently with her husband on workshops and seminars on family stabilization.

Rev. Jenkins works with a number of community based initiatives which help to develop pride in one’s community and the importance of giving back. Rev. Jenkins was recently appointed to serve on the board of directors for Project Love, a character-building education and training organization. Through workshops, community events, leadership training and media programs, Project Love empowers teens and adults to create a culture of kindness, caring and respect wherever they go.

Rev. Courtney Clayton Jenkins is married to her seminary sweetheart The Reverend Cory C. Jenkins, Senior Pastor of the historic Shiloh Baptist Church, and a 2003 graduate of Morehouse College. Rev. Cory and Rev. Courtney are excited about sharing a life of love and ministry together.
To read more, visit

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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