With T.D. Jakes Passing the Torch, We Look At Black Religious Leaders Then and Now

With T.D. Jakes Passing the Torch, We Look At Black Religious Leaders Then and Now

The Black church has a plethora of men and women who have changed the nation

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Image for article titled With T.D. Jakes Passing the Torch, We Look At Black Religious Leaders Then and Now
Photo: R. Diamond / Contributor (Getty Images), Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer (Getty Images), Marcus Ingram / Contributor (Getty Images)

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.

Advertisement

2 / 16

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Image for article titled With T.D. Jakes Passing the Torch, We Look At Black Religious Leaders Then and Now
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer (Getty Images)

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.

Advertisement

3 / 16

Pastor Sarah Jakes Roberts

Pastor Sarah Jakes Roberts

Image for article titled With T.D. Jakes Passing the Torch, We Look At Black Religious Leaders Then and Now
Photo: David Livingston / Contributor (Getty Images)

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.

Advertisement

4 / 16

Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook

Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook

Image for article titled With T.D. Jakes Passing the Torch, We Look At Black Religious Leaders Then and Now
Photo: Donald Bowers / Stringer (Getty Images)

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.

Advertisement

5 / 16

Minister Ralph Abernathy

Minister Ralph Abernathy

Image for article titled With T.D. Jakes Passing the Torch, We Look At Black Religious Leaders Then and Now
Photo: Hulton Archive / Stringer (Getty Images)

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

Advertisement

6 / 16

Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock

Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock

Image for article titled With T.D. Jakes Passing the Torch, We Look At Black Religious Leaders Then and Now
Photo: Paras Griffin / Stringer (Getty Images)

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.

Advertisement

7 / 16

Priscilla Shirer

Priscilla Shirer

Image for article titled With T.D. Jakes Passing the Torch, We Look At Black Religious Leaders Then and Now
Photo: Jerritt Clark / Contributor (Getty Images)

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.

Advertisement

8 / 16

Bishop T.D. Jakes

Bishop T.D. Jakes

Image for article titled With T.D. Jakes Passing the Torch, We Look At Black Religious Leaders Then and Now
Photo: Marcus Ingram / Contributor (Getty Images)

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.

Advertisement

9 / 16

Pastor Shirley Caesar

Pastor Shirley Caesar

Image for article titled With T.D. Jakes Passing the Torch, We Look At Black Religious Leaders Then and Now
Photo: Erika Goldring / Contributor (Getty Images)

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.

Advertisement

10 / 16

Rev. William Barber

Rev. William Barber

Image for article titled With T.D. Jakes Passing the Torch, We Look At Black Religious Leaders Then and Now
Photo: Jemal Countess / Stringer (Getty Images)

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.

Advertisement

11 / 16

Rev. Dr. Melva Sampson

Rev. Dr. Melva Sampson

Image for article titled With T.D. Jakes Passing the Torch, We Look At Black Religious Leaders Then and Now
Photo: Screen shot from DrMelvaSampson.com (Other)

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.

Advertisement

12 / 16

Bishop Leah Daughtry

Bishop Leah Daughtry

Image for article titled With T.D. Jakes Passing the Torch, We Look At Black Religious Leaders Then and Now
Photo: Josh Brasted / Contributor (Getty Images)

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.

Advertisement

13 / 16

Rev. Al Sharpton

Rev. Al Sharpton

Image for article titled With T.D. Jakes Passing the Torch, We Look At Black Religious Leaders Then and Now
Photo: Tasos Katopodis / Stringer (Getty Images)

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.

Advertisement

14 / 16

Jarena Lee

Jarena Lee

Image for article titled With T.D. Jakes Passing the Torch, We Look At Black Religious Leaders Then and Now
Photo: Fotosearch / Stringer (Getty Images)

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.

Advertisement

15 / 16

Bishop Vashti McKenzie

Bishop Vashti McKenzie

Image for article titled With T.D. Jakes Passing the Torch, We Look At Black Religious Leaders Then and Now
Photo: Joe Raedle / Staff (Getty Images)

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.

Advertisement

16 / 16