Union Baptist Church, in the Village of Harlem, New York (Rev. BD Scott, Pastor), is home to The R.E.A.L. Black Women in Ministry THRIVE (REAL BWIM THRIVE 50) FELLOWS: a 4-year, national, personal, pastoral and professional formation and development mentorship cohort, specifically designed for 26 Black women Senior pastors to mentor 26 Black women in ministry who are newer to ministry, but who have the desire to serve in parish ministries, for enhancement, advancement and placement in parish ministry. Through sharing resources, opportunities and networking, intentional attention is placed on strengthening current senior pastors, planting new pastors, and creating a succession of next-generation Black female leaders, equipped, exposed, and ready to be 21st-century leaders, both in person and virtually.
Union Baptist Church is also the home of the Grant program Director, Rev. Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, who was the first woman licensed and ordained in the Christian ministry there, and who later went on to direct the first Black women in ministry program of the Lilly Endowment, and also become the first Black woman pastor in the 200-year history of the American Baptist Churches, USA.
In cohort format, through prayer, personal and group interaction, video recordings, journaling, presentations, social media instruction, mentoring, guest speakers, retreats and monthly Sister Sessions, this initiative allows participants to enjoy their creativity and their journeys, as whole and healthy leaders.
Representing 11 different denominations and from 11 different cities, we have already seen growth, reduction of stress and a hunger for interaction and learning. Most of all, a new sisterhood has developed for pastors who had been in isolation, serving congregations of color in America’s urban cities. They know they are not alone and thank the Lilly Endowment for this amazing opportunity.