Historic Harlem Abyssinian Baptist Church Names New Senior Pastor

June 30, 2024

The venerable Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York, has announced the appointment of Rev. Kevin R. Johnson as its new senior pastor.

Succeeding the esteemed Rev. Calvin O. Butts who faithfully led the congregation for fifty years until his passing in 2022.

Rev. Johnson, renowned for founding Philadelphia’s Dare to Imagine Church with humble beginnings in his own home, brings a wealth of experience to Abyssinian. His journey from nurturing a congregation of twenty to overseeing a vibrant community of 1,500 members exemplifies his dedication and leadership in the church.

“Abyssinian is not merely a church…”

Expressing profound gratitude and humility, the 50-year-old pastor shared, “Abyssinian is not merely a church—it is our spiritual home, and I am honored to continue its legacy.” In a heartfelt message on the church’s website, he emphasized his commitment to advancing God’s kingdom, serving the community, and shaping Abyssinian’s future.

Rev. Johnson’s appointment marks the culmination of a rigorous selection process amidst challenges. The church’s search committee faced scrutiny, including a gender discrimination lawsuit, highlighting concerns over transparency and fairness.

Founded in 1808, Abyssinian Baptist Church stands as a pillar of the African American community, renowned for its rich history and cultural significance. Rev. Johnson, a graduate of Morehouse College and Union Theological Seminary in Harlem, honed his pastoral skills under Rev. Butts’ mentorship, serving as his intern and assistant pastor over several years.

As he prepares to assume his new role in mid-July, Rev. Johnson embodies a commitment to spiritual guidance, community service, and the enduring legacy of Abyssinian Baptist Church.

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