The Black Pastors Group
We are a group of Black pastors who are striving to increase the participation of Black Lutherans at all levels in the life, mission, and ministry of the Metropolitan New York Synod. We celebrate the matchless contributions our people have made and are still making to civilization, to this country, to the Christian religion in general, and to the Lutheran Church in particular. Established in the mid-1990s, the group provides a forum for worship, biblical literacy, health and wellness, and sharing common concerns from the various ministries represented. These meetings enable pastors of African descent to affirm our witness to the gospel, share mutual support for our struggles, and unite and enrich the synod with our presence and contributions. Our group recognized, from the beginning, that a large annual gathering of leaders of African descent and others in urban ministry was vital to the survival of our ministries. So, in 2002, the group founded the yearly Urban Leaders Institute (ULI). This conference brings together the best minds regarding urban ministry challenges and the issues pertinent to Black clergy, clergy leading black churches, and lay leader. Keynote speakers have included The Rev. Dr. Wyatt T. Walker, The Rev. Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood, The Rev. Dr. Suzanne Johnson-Cook, The Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts, The Rev. Dr. Carolyn Knight, and many other gifted experts.
The Black Pastors Group supports ministries of church development, education, and advocacy that impact lives here, and around the world. We made two mission trips to Tanzania, and donated funds to stop the violence against people with albinism in the country, as well as supplying educational materials to young children, and young adults. The group preached in various churches, attended the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, exchanged cultural music, reflected and studied on diverse ministry topics, and met with the bishop and other church leaders in our companion synod. We have taken study trips together to The Hampton Ministry Conference, in Hampton, Virginia, and have attended Preaching with Power at United Lutheran Seminary and retreats at the former Dominican Retreat House in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. We also stayed at Eddy Farm Retreat and Conference Center, Port Jervis, NY to nurture, educate and renew ourselves. In 2016, ULI, comprised of a trip to “Egypt on the Potomac.” in Washington, DC. The trip showed the many influences of Egypt on the layout of the District of Columbia.
The Black Pastors’ Group sponsors an annual concert in commemoration of The Rev. William Clark, Jr. Every church represented in the group takes part in this event, which unites all participants and guests in a service filled with fellowship, encouragement, and joy. Free will offerings support ministries such as Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina; the former Holy Trinity Lutheran School in Hollis, Queens; an internship supervised by several of our churches, full tuition for a Tanzanian seminarian in seminary, and financial assistance for social issues in the United States, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and the Caribbean. Through prayer, financial support, and determination, the Black Pastors Group works towards transforming lives to reflect God’s values of justice, love, and excellence.
Urban Leaders Institute
The Urban Leaders Institute (ULI) is a conference organized by the Black Pastors Group for ordained and lay leaders in the church. The strategy aims at strengthening African descent congregations with new models and paradigms for doing ministry in this post-Christian world. The program provides a space for fellowship, spiritual growth, teaching, and mentoring one another as we develop stronger holistic relationships with God and each other. ULI has offered workshops on youth ministry, self-care, leadership development, music ministry, to name a few things. The conference ends with an inspired revival worship service celebrating our faith walk with God. The event has included presenters, lectures, and professors from various synods, ecumenical partners, and other denominations.
Black Equity Table (BET)
The most recent initiative of the Black Pastors’ work is the Black Equity Table. This project is a gathering of Black clergy who are professing the Lutheran expression of Christianity. The cornerstone of our work is elevating the voices, increasing participation, and providing prophetic leadership thought from people of African descent for greater inclusion in the life, mission, and ministry of the Metropolitan New York Synod of the ELCA. The Black Equity Table consists of Black Lutheran clergy leaders committed to policy change, empowerment, and increased diversity in the church, community, and society.
We accomplish this work by providing a prophetic voice and presence, principally centering around how systemic racism adversely impacts Black ecclesial communities. We are committed to examining how the system of white supremacy mars our institutions, destroys our theology, and ultimately disproportionately affects Black Lutheran Churches and their constituents.
African Descent Ministries
African Descent Ministries include African American, African Caribbean and African National communities. We are a gifted and culturally diverse body. The group in North America and the Caribbean is referred to as "people of African Descent" or "the Black People." They represent 13% of the total U.S. population.
In the ELCA there are:
- 54,189 members of African descent, or one percent of the ELCA’s total membership
- 252 congregations with at least 25% African descent membership
- 242 African descent pastors
- 83 African descent leaders preparing themselves for the ministry.
People of African descent in the ELCA are Christ-centered communities in ministry, sharing their gifts, and empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the power, love, and presence of Jesus Christ. The vision calls us to live out God’s call in and through visionary pastoral leadership, worship, discipleship, stewardship, family ministries, social justice, unity and diversity.
These areas of ministry work together in an integrated, holistic way to build the body of Jesus Christ in mission and to affirm the gifts and leadership of African descent people across the U.S. and the Caribbean.
Link to the ELCA’s African Descent ministry webpage: