The Top 10 Most Influential Black Ministers
Loop 21 lists those serving their communities at large
For centuries, the black church, although not monolithic, has been the hub of the community. From serving as a gathering place to providing food, clothes and financial needs to it’s parishioners, the church has been more than just preaching, singing and paying tithes and offering.
There are thousands of preachers who preach, but only a few who truly minister to serve their community, locally and globally. Loop 21 looked coast to coast to find the top ministers who can not only hoop in the pulplit, but serve their communities to meet their needs.
Dr. Freddie Haynes, Friendship-West Baptist, Dallas, Texas
For more than 28 years, Pastor Freddie Haynes has been serving the Dallas area through his church Friendship-West Baptist. Growing his ministry to over 12,000 members, Dr. Haynes believes in intertwining theology with sociology to meet the needs of his members. Not only that, he shares his words of wisdom every morning of the nationally syndicated Rickey Smiley Morning Show, where millions are blessed by his words.
Dr. Raphael Warnock, Ebenezer Baptist, Atlanta, Georgia
Since 2005, Dr. Raphael Warnock has been the spiritual leader of Ebenezer Baptist Church, the same church where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King served. Still, that’s not what makes Dr. Warnock special. His specialty is going beyond the four walls of the church to serve the people. From a barbershop ministry called “Cutting Thru Crisis” to leading a “Freedom Caravan” to help Katrina evacuees gain voting freedoms in the State of Louisiana. He also provides ongoing financial support for young people and ministries that help people living with HIV/AIDS.
Archbishop Alfred Owens and Co-pastor Susie Owens, Greater Mount Calvary, Washington, DC
Archbishop Alfred Owens along with his wife Evangelist Susie Owens have been serving the Washington, DC community since 1966, growing their church from seven members to 7,000 today. Along with ministries including an alcohol/drug abuse program called Calvary's Alternative to Alcohol and Drug Abuse (CATAADA HOUSE) and running and clothing and food bank, outside of the church the Owens have served as foster parent to 16 sons and daughters.
Dr. Floyd Flake, Greater Allen A.M.E., Queens, New York
A former U.S. Congressman, Pastor Flake, along with his wife co-pastor Elaine Flake, service Greater Allen A.M.E. Church’s over 20,000 members in Queens, New York. The church, which has a net worth of $100 million according to the church’s Web site, has over 100 ministries including the “Angel-Tree Prison Ministry,” “Grief Share Support Group” and “Elder Care Support” to name a few. Along with church ministries, Dr. Flake leads the Greater Allen Development Corporation, a development project that aims to provide affordable housing and financial services to members.
Dr. Cynthia Hale, Ray of Hope Christian Church, Decatur, Georgia
As the founding pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church, Dr. Cynthia Hale serves the Decatur area through housing, healthcare and education ministries. Dr. Hale’s specialty also focuses on leadership in the church. In 2004, Dr. Hale established Elah Pastoral Ministries, Inc., a mentoring program for area pastors and in September 2005, she convened her first Women in Ministry Conference; a highly-attended, national conference with a mission to develop, coach and mentor Christian women in ministry.
Bishop Vashti McKenzie, Presiding Prelate of the 13th Episcopal District, A.M.E. Church, Tennessee and Kentucky
As the only African American woman selected to be part of President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Bishop Vashti McKenzie was also the first woman to be elected bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in it's 200-plus year history. While her ministry in the A.M.E. church services the states of Tennessee and Kentucky, Bishop McKenzie also serves as the national chaplain for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the largest international sorority for college educated black women.
Dr. Calvin Butts, Abyssinian Baptist, New York, New York
As the pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church, Dr. Butts is a touch stone in the Harlem community. Since the 1980s, Dr. Butts has help ministries inside and outside the church walls including Balm in Gilead, Inc., an HIV/AIDS prevention ministry. In 1989, Pastor Butts also founded the Abyssinian Development Corporation, a development engine worth $500 million that aids the community in housing and commercial development along with giving loans and grants to small businesses. The church recently announced a partnership with Starbucks to provide economic, education and health benefits to the community.
Bishop TD Jakes, Potter’s Church, Dallas, Texas
It takes a strong pastor to minister to a 30,000-member church and Bishop TD Jakes is up to the task. Bishop Jakes has long been a household name thanks to successful Gospel LPs and films including “Woman Thou Art Loosed” and “Not Easily Broken.” He’s also appeared in films, as himself, including the box office hit “Jumping the Broom.” Still, his ministries span beyond the entertainment realm. Bishop Jakes has local and national ministries that target youth, women, prisons and the elderly.
Bishop Paul Morton, Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist, New Orleans, Louisiana
Under the leadership of Bishop Paul Morton, St. Stephen has grown to a 20,000-member church. Morton also added 60 ministries that serviced the community educationally, socially and spiritually. With the help of his wife co-pastor Debra B. Morton, the church grew to “One Church in Two States,” with another sanctuary in Atlanta.
Bishop Charles Blake, West Angeles Church of God in Christ, Los Angeles, California
The Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ, Bishop Blake is responsible for a 6.5 member denomination. He is also the pastor of West Angeles Church of God in Christ where he ministers to 24,000 members with over 80 ministries that meet psychological, social, and economic needs. Bishop Blake’s ministry also expands internationally as he started the Save Africa's Children program that has assisted over 300 grassroots and faith-based projects in sub-Saharan Africa and aided over 90,000 AIDS-affected children.
Full disclosure: Loop 21 editor Joi-Marie McKenzie is the daughter of Bishop Vashti McKenzie.