With T.D. Jakes Passing the Torch, We Look At Black Religious Leaders Then and Now
Religion is a staple in the Black community and has the power to influence the nation. Black male and female preachers are using their calling to not only lead congregations but also become activists and inspirations to religious and non-religious people alike.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. became the co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia in 1960. King was the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). His most famous speeches often had Biblical references and used religion to promote love, tolerance, and peace.
Aside from Halle Bailey, Here Are Other Black Disney Actors and Characters We Love [Update]
The Best TV Series, Movies of 2022 to Binge Before the Year Ends [UPDATED]
Megan Thee Stallion Becomes 1st Black Woman to Land Forbes 30 Under 30 Cover
Pastor Sarah Jakes Roberts
Pastor Sarah Jakes Roberts is the daughter of famed Bishop T.D Jakes. She co-pastors The Potter’s House ONE Church in Los Angeles. She is also the founder of Woman Evolve. In 2022, her father passed the torch after 30 years to Sarah as the new leader of Woman, Thou Art Loosed, a women’s empowerment conference.
Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook
Rev. Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook became the first African American woman to be named pastor in the American Baptist Association’s history. Cook was made the pastor of New York City’s, Mariner’s Temple Baptist Church in 1983. She also founded the Bronx Fellowship Christian Church. She made history again by becoming the first female chaplain of the New York Police Department in 1990.
Minister Ralph Abernathy
Ralph Abernathy was a close friend of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a fellow minister. Abernathy was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1948. He became the pastor of First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama in 1952. He used his faith to influence his work in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He moved to Atlanta to be the pastor of West Hunter Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock
Georgia Senator, Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, is the fifth senior pastor of Atlanta, Georgia’s famed Ebenezer Baptist Church. He is the youngest to be named senior pastor over the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s former congregation.
Priscilla Shirer is the daughter of the well-known pastor, Tony Evans. Shirer created Going Beyond Ministries with her husband, Jerry, which produces books, conferences, films, and Bible study materials. Shirer is the author of many Bible study books for teens and women.
Bishop T.D. Jakes
Bishop T.D. Jakes presides over The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas. The Potter’s House was founded in 1996 with over 30,000 members and is nondenominational. Bishop Jakes is internationally known, traveling with U.S. presidents, and attending and speaking at events in various countries. He is also heavily involved in outreach and humanitarian efforts. Jakes is also the author of almost 40 books.
Pastor Shirley Caesar
The First Lady of Gospel Music, Pastor Shirley Caesar, was ordained as a pastor by her husband, Bishop Harold Williams, in 1990. She has served as the Senior Co-Pastor of Mt. Calvary Word of Faith Church in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Rev. William Barber
In December 2022, activist Rev. William Barber announced that he is retiring from being pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina after 30 years. He will be leading the Yale Divinity School’s new Center for Public Theology.
Rev. Dr. Melva Sampson
Rev. Dr. Melva Sampson is an ordained preacher of the Progressive National Baptist Convention and an Assistant Professor of Preaching and Practical Theology at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. Sampson is the creator of Pink Robe Chronicles.
Bishop Leah Daughtry
Bishop Leah Daughtry is the National Presiding Prelate of the House of the Lord Churches as of October 2019. Rev. Daughtry is also heavily involved with political affairs having worked for the Democratic National Convention, the United States Department of Labor, and as Chief of Staff of the Democratic Party.
Rev. Al Sharpton
Rev. Al Sharpton was ordained as a Pentecostal minister at the age of 10 in 1964. He didn’t return to ministry until 1994 and converted to the Baptist denomination. Prior to preaching again, Sharpton founded the National Youth Movement and National Action Network, dedicating much of his time to civil rights efforts and political campaigns.
Jarena Lee was the first female preacher in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the early 1800s. She was initially refused the position by AME founder, Richard Allen, due to rules in the church against female preachers. However, after one Sunday when a male preacher could not do his sermon, she stepped up, proving she was meant to be a preacher. Lee is also the first female African American autobiographer.
Bishop Vashti McKenzie
Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie is the 117th bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She is the first woman President of the Council of Bishops. Former President Barack Obama appointed McKenzie to the President’s Advisory Council. She is now a retired bishop but serves as the chaplain for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.
More from The Root
Madea Goes to Amazon: Tyler Perry Lands 4-Year Film Deal With Amazon Studios
Sign up for The Root's Newsletter. For the latest news, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.