Rev. Joyce Reece Kitchen – Senior Pastor of Emmanuel-Henry McNeal Turner A.M.E. Church
She served as a Physician Assistant for over 17 years, helping children and families enhance their quality of life physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Many of the parents of the patients looked to Rev. Kitchen as a “surrogate mother”, as she taught young parents how to effectively care for their children, and enhance their personal lives. During her tenure as a Physician Assistant, the Reverend witnessed firsthand the incredible emotional pain and sicknesses that polluted the lives of the many families she serviced. In 1997 she stepped out on faith, leaving a high paying job, and comfortable career. Reverend Kitchen returned to school at the ripe age of 42 , showing the world that when we submit to God’s will, there is nothing that can prevent us from accomplishing God’s purpose for our lives. Upon receiving her Masters Degree in Social Welfare from UCLA, she worked for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, Adoptions unit, helping abused children find families to love and care for them.
While the road that Rev. Kitchen has traveled has some times been wrought with pain she has continued to walk in faith reminding everyone that “we grieve, but not without hope”. Rev. Kitchen has practiced what she has preached for so many years: “Even in suffering, we count it all joy! For suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope. And Hope does not disappoint us”. Rev. Kitchen is a soldier on the battlefield for the Lord.
Rev. Dr. Monica Coleman- Writer/Scholar/Activist
A scholar and activist, Monica A. Coleman is committed to connecting faith and social justice. An ordained elder in the Michigan Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Coleman has earned degrees from Harvard University, Vanderbilt University and Claremont Graduate University. Coleman is currently Associate Professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religions and Co-Director of the Center for Process Studies at Claremont School of Theology in southern California. She has had previous academic appointments at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and Bennett College for Women.
Coleman’s writings focus on the role of faith in addressing critical social issues. In Not Alone: Reflections on Faith and Depression, Coleman offers a 40-day devotional wrestling with depression in a spiritual context. Coleman wrote about church responses to sexual violence in The Dinah Project: a Handbook for Congregational Response to Sexual Violence. In Making a Way Out of No Way: a Womanist Theology, Coleman discusses inter-religious responses to the joys and pains of black women’s lives. She is the co-editor of Creating Women’s Theologies: a Movement Engaging Process Thought and editor of the recently released Ain’t I a Womanist Too?: Third Wave Womanist Religious Thought. Her current writing projects focus on the intersection of depression and faith, and theories of religious plurality.
A survivor of rape, Coleman became committed to speaking out against sexual violence in 1997. She founded and coordinated “The Dinah Project,” an organized church response to sexual violence, at Metropolitan Interdenominational Church in Nashville, TN. Her expertise in religion and sexual violence has taken her around the country to speak at churches, colleges, seminaries, universities, and regional and national conferences.
Coleman blogs on the intersection of faith and depression at www.BeautifulMindBlog.com and writes for www.Patheos.com, the website named by Newsweek as “the place to get smarter about religion.” She has been featured as an interviewed guest on NPR, blogtalk radio shows and www.PsychCentral.com. She is a research fellow with the Lilly Endowment-funded New Media Project that helps religious leaders become theologically savvy about technology. For her service online, she was listed as 2012’s Top 100 by the Digital Sisterhood Network.
Coleman often teaches Bible study in her local church, and speaks widely on religion and sexuality, religious pluralism, churches & social media, mental health, and sexual and domestic violence.
Rev. Dr. Clyde W. Oden, Jr – Senior Pastor of Bryant Temple A.M.E. Church
Rev. Dr. Clyde W. Oden, Jr., is Senior Pastor of Bryant Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church. THE TEMPLE is a politically conscious Church, which engages the spiritual, social, and health concerns of the Leimert Park District and the greater South Los Angeles community. The Church has an active congregation of 650 persons.
THE TEMPLE has a number of ministries under the leadership of Rev. Oden. They have a Health Ministry with a focus on obesity, diabetes, cancer care and HIV/AIDS. The Church has sponsored several community health fairs with a particular focus on men and women’s health issues. THE TEMPLE also supports Chosen Gospel Recovery Ministries which serves women who have been released from prison, homeless substance abusers; a Women’s Ministry, a Men’s Ministry, a Couples Ministry, and a substance abuse ministry known as Free N One which provides a safe place for men and women struggling with the issues of addiction. THE TEMPLE has a Veteran’s Ministry and is the home base for Bryant Temple American Legion Post #109.
Beyond its local community, THE TEMPLE has been very active in reaching out to other communities of Faith. Dr. Oden has led his church to be an active member of L.A. Metropolitan Churches (LAM), where he serves on its Board of Directors. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Community Build, Inc.
Dr. Oden serves as co-chair to an Advisory Committee at the RAND Corporation examining the issues of HIV/AIDS in the faith community. He is a prostate cancer survivor and vigorously advocates for prostate cancer screening and education.
Dr. Oden is the former board chairman of Family Savings Bank and president/CEO of Watts Health Systems, Inc. where he served from 1979 to 2002.
The Reverend Dr. Oden has his doctorate in Optometry and a Masters in Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley.He also has an MBA from Pepperdine University and a Master of Divinity (M. Div.) degree, from Claremont School of Theology.
He is married to Velma, a retired R.N., and they have three adult children, three grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.
Rev. Kamal Hassan – Designated Pastor of Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church
Rev. Hassan firmly believes that, “The church must be engaged in efforts to mend the tear in our social fabric that has caused so many of us to focus solely on our individual needs and ignore the sufferings of others. To be true to our prophetic calling the people of God must act locally for justice, peace, and freedom, while also considering the global implications of our work. We must take seriously the urgent need to participate in the building of a new heaven and a new earth, because in a faithful and relevant church there is hope for the entire world.”
Although Sojourner Truth is his first call as a Presbyterian pastor, Rev. Hassan has more than 20 years of experience as a religious worker and more than 10 years as an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He is a powerfully gifted preacher and Christian educator whose message is rooted in the African American prophetic tradition. He is a community organizer who has toiled for decades in low wealth communities of color for social justice. He is a sensitive and supportive counselor and visitor of those in need. He is a visionary leader who can see beyond the now to the “not yet.”
Prior to coming to Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church, Rev. Hassan spent 30 years in his first career as an educator, teaching at all levels from elementary school to university. His innovative and transformative work in the classroom was the centerpiece of an article entitled, “Raising the Critical Consciousness of African American Students…A Portrait of an Exemplary African American Male Teacher,” that was published in Howard University’s Journal of Negro Education.
Rev. Hassan received his AA in Radio Broadcasting from Los Angeles City College, his BA in History from California State University at Los Angeles, and his Master of Divinity degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary.
He is the husband of Makini Hassan. They have three children, Jonathan Coleman, Stephanie Coleman, and Aiyisha Hassan.