Returning home is a dream come true for the Rev. Theodore Payne IV. As the new pastor of Bryant Temple AME Church in Los Angeles, he heads the congregation of his youth where his grandparents served as spiritual leaders for 33 years.
Payne, who is marking his seventh month at Bryant Temple, was among the pastoral appointments made by Bishop Theodore Larry Kirkland, Sr., last October and no one could be happier.
“I am grateful to serve in my home church, a church where my grandmother and grandfather, Rev. and Mrs. V.L. Brenson, served from 1969 to 2002 and I was born, raised and baptized,” said Payne.
“In the AME Church, being given a chance to pastor the church where you were reared is highly unlikely. I am indeed excited about the opportunity to serve here and being able to pastor both of my grandmothers (maternal and fraternal). In addition, my wife’s family has been long-time members of this church. It’s good to be home!”
Observing his 19th year in the ministry, Payne previously served as pastor at Ward Chapel AME in Mexico, Missouri; Wayman Chapel AME in Billings, Montana; and A.K. Quinn AME in Moreno Valley, CA. All of the churches saw spiritual and numerical growth under his leadership and he hopes to duplicate that success at Bryant Temple.
The 400-member congregation is well known for its involvement in the faith community as well as its outreach and social services programs. Payne plans to expand upon those activities to help address some of the pressing issues that the church and African Americans face in the 21st century, particularly police brutality and economic parity.
“Clearly our young people still have issues with police violence. This affects the church as a whole because at one point, the church was a place where we could come to receive guidance and leadership surrounding issues of social justice. I believe we can and must get back to that,” said Pastor Payne.
“As it relates to economics, I think an important function of the church is to lead the charge in helping our people to become economically empowered. We can and should facilitate job training, partnerships, budgeting and money management and credit improvement seminars and workshops.”
Bryant Temple also offers a range of ministries for its members including the Sista to Sista Women’s Ministry, Sons of Allen Men’s Ministry, Women’s Missionary Society, Lay Organization, several choirs and usher boards, and the Young People’s Division.
In addition, the church partners with other community organizations to hold Bible Study and weekly services at the Amity Foundation, a Los Angeles drug and alcohol rehabilitation program and at Fountain View Sub Acute and Nursing Center. Bryant Temple is the home of the American Legion Post #109 as well, which assists veterans in the church and local community.
Future plans call for a Single’s Ministry, a Rites of Passage program for young men, and the 20/40 Club, a youth and young adult ministry for ages 20 to 40 that will meet for Bible Study and fellowship.
“With the help of Almighty God, the sky is the limit! I love this church dearly and I continuously pray for a great ‘marriage’ between the congregation and pastor,” said Payne.
Bryant Temple AME Church is located at 2525 West Vernon Avenue in Los Angeles. To learn more, call the church office at (323) 293-6201.