The Reverend Lisa Jenkins has made history in East Harlem. The 48-year-old single mom has just been selected as the first black woman pastor of the historic St. Matthews Baptist Church. She won against four male contenders under vote. St. Matthews was the first black church of Harlem that was built from the ground up. With a predominately female congregation, the members believe that Reverend Jenkins will successfully reach the younger audience.
When the church went looking for a new reverend, they asked for a married person. So it is even more fitting that Rev. Jenkins won them over as a single mom. Lisa Jenkins succeeds the late Rev. John Sass, who was the first man to hire a woman reverend and women deacons to the Harlem area.
Like many black churches, St. Matthews started small and grew bigger over time. Rev. Sass started the church at a storefront which expanded in 1967.
Reverend Lisa Jenkins served as pastor at Blessed Trinity Baptist Church on W. 129th St. prior to coming to St. Matthews Baptist. She is also a community activist for Community Board 10 in East Harlem.