Editor’s note: In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Sentinel will highlight four women leaders in the Los Angeles-are faith community.
What is your name and what is your ministry? My name is Rev. Dr. Mary S. Minor. I am the pastor of Brookins-Kirkland Community AME Church, located at 3719 W. Slauson Ave., in Los Angeles.
How long have you been in this ministry and how did you get started in it? The Baptist Church tradition informed my spiritual growth and intellectual development. It was the context where God called me to preach in 1983 even though women were not allowed to preach the word of God.
On Mother’s Day 1984, the First AME Church of Los Angeles became my sacred space of worship and place of acceptance. An abundance of ministries were available to my children and me.
Women were unconstrained in the pulpit to lead worship. People proudly embraced their African American heritage, culture, and God as they also acknowledged people of other races and ethnicities.
There were age-appropriate Bible studies and Sunday school classes, choirs, Children’s ministries, acolytes, and Girls’ and Boys’ Scouts. This was my new spiritual home!
The Holy Spirit, in the form of an inner voice, clearly prompted me to “join this church,” but I stalled. At that moment of indecisiveness, my discerning mother stepped past me and walked to the altar. Her movement propelled me to the altar, and this church became my sacred space – a place where the holistic needs of my family were met through the leading of the Holy Spirit and the discernment of a spiritually gifted mother.
I answered the call to ministry in 1989, was admitted to the Southern California Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in August of 1990, ordained a Deacon in 1992, and Elder in 1994. I received my first pastoral charge in 2000, and I am currently serving my fourth congregation, Brookins-Kirkland Community AME Church.
What role has God or your faith played in your ministry? In November 1991, God divinely healed my body of sarcoidosis, a chronic lung disease contracted in 1987. Completely exhausted from the strain of breathing, seated on the edge of my bed, my confession to God was, “I give up. If you take me now, I will be with you forever. But, if you allow me to live, I will teach your children.” God responded, “All I needed you to do was surrender.” At that moment of surrender, God resurrected me to a new life in Jesus Christ for service to God’s people.
What is one of the most memorable experiences during your ministry? That memorable act of surrendering, of dying to self, was the beginning of my divine healing and transformation. My resurrection sermon was entitled, “How Ya Livin,” which revealed that true life is obtained when you die to self. True life is selfless. Since that divine encounter, the Holy Spirit has used me to preach in venues as small as 10-member churches and as large as the vast audience of the Cable News Network (CNN). Moreover, God has prepared me to serve people.
What are you doing or working on now and what are some of your future goals? God calls me to perform greater works by serving others. At this juncture of my spiritual life’s journey, God calls me to help others discover their spiritual gifts of grace as a means to discern God’s will for their lives.
Some clergy and laity are unaware of the power of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, many pastors and teachers fail to preach and teach about the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit, and an abundance of church members are not fulfilling the mission of the church as mandated by Jesus.
Since my endowed God-given spiritual gifts of grace are teaching, leading worship, faith, giving, administration, and wisdom, they must be used in service to others!
I plan to transform my doctoral thesis, “Equipping God’s People for Works of Service: A Gifts-Based Model” into a book in the very near future.