The Rev. Deborah Manns was appointed to lead Ruach Christian Community Fellowship on June 1. While she is a first-time pastor, she is not new to the ministry.
Licensed and ordained in 2008, Manns comes equipped with a deep faith in God, ministerial degrees, and a strong background in church administration that she learned from working with several notable pastors over the years.
Trusting that those factors have prepared her, Manns said with excitement, “I accepted this opportunity and God has blown my mind with miracles, signs and wonders ever since. I have a small church, but with amazing, loving members who have received me and love me!”
The congregation of 80 members will demonstrate their love even more by hosting Manns’ installation service on Sunday, Sept. 29, at 1 p.m., in the Ruach worship center located at 1957 ½ W. Manchester Ave., in Los Angeles. The Rev. Dr. D. Najuma Smith-Pollard, pastor of Word of Encouragement Community Church (WOECC); Ruach’s founder, the Rev. Dr. Lewis Logan II, will conduct the installation, and a celebratory dinner will be served following the worship.
As the pastor of Ruach, Manns aims to retain the spirit of celebration combined with unwavering faith in the Lord to fulfill the church’s mission to “teach the true Gospel of Christ and serve families, men, women and children who live, work and worship in risky environments.”
When Logan founded the fellowship 10 years ago, he selected the name from a Hebrew word meaning “breath of God.” In a 2009 L.A. Sentinel article, he said, “launching this new church is a way of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.”
Ruach thrived for a decade under Logan’s leadership before he reached out to Manns to serve as the pastor. Heeding the direction of the Holy Spirit, he had taken an appointment to head Gaines Chapel AME Church in Douglas, Georgia, in May 2019, but also wanted to ensure that Ruach will continue to exist.
Logan, like many in the L.A. faith community, was no doubt aware of Manns’ extensive experience in the ministry. She had served under the Rev. Dr. Sander White, Sr. at El Shaddai Christian Church and as an associate pastor on the staff of the Rev. Dr. Eugene Williams III at Prophetic Missionary Baptist Church. Manns had also worked under the Rev. Dr. Jamal H. Bryant at Empowerment Temple AME Church in Baltimore, the Rev. Dr. Mark E. Whitlock, Jr. at Christ Our Redeemer AME in Irvine and with Smith-Pollard at Word of Encouragement in Los Angeles for the past five years.
Despite her pedigree, Manns was reluctant to accept Logan’s offer, especially considering the challenges of being a female pastor.
“I have many close friends who are female pastors, married and single, and I have watched them go through so much. So when the call first came, I refused and told Dr. Logan that the only way I would accept was if Dr. Najuma released me. I told him that I would pray about it and then talk to her,” she explained.
“Dr. Najuma said, ‘Yes, of course I will release you to pastor.’ She said that it was time for me to elevate, so I accepted.”
Since serving in the position for four months, Manns has embraced her role while facing various hurdles, such as Ruach’s current location in a commercial strip mall. Also, the membership has declined with the change of pastors and to meet operating expenses, she works for no pay. Still, she remains optimistic about Ruach’s future.
“Our goal is to be in a more traditional church setting by the spring of 2020. We are also looking forward to rebuilding our membership and offering resources such as mentoring and counseling,” she said.
She added that God has supplemented her income through speaking engagements and projects run by her non-profit, The Virtuous Woman, Inc. VWI programs include Project Destiny and Project Home of Hope, which aim to prevent females, ages 10-to-24, from entering the juvenile justice and prison systems. The services range from a support group for runaways to assistance for victims of sex trafficking, addictive behavior recovery and transitional housing options.
“God has shown me that if I say ‘yes,’ constantly study to preach the word, stay faithful and love on the people,” insisted Manns, “He will be cover me, keep me, bless the church with growth and Ruach will bring change!”
Manns also offered encouraging words to women in ministry and advised them, “Yes, be confident in your calling, educate yourself in your calling, find balance in the work, never let you good be evil spoken of, be true to yourself, never comprise who you are for an opportunity and your gifts will make room for you.
In addition, she recommended that women avoid adapting the preaching style of others and instead, ask God to help them develop their own unique style. Also, she suggested that women in ministry seek mentors, both male and female, to guide them during their ministerial journey, and to always extend much love to the people of God.
“Know that your calling belongs to God and not to you. Never say my minister, my church my non-profit, we are just vessels used by God with vision given by God to serve His people and share the good news of Jesus Christ,” counseled Manns. “Walk in your truth, then God will do the rest.”
To learn more and Pastor Deborah Manns and Ruach Christian Community Fellowship, email [email protected]