African American Leadership Initiative

With RUF at JSU, Redeemer PCA, Mission Mississippi, Voice of Calvary Ministries, and New Horizons, RTS Jackson provides a unique context for multi-ethnic, urban, and African American ministry.  Partnering with these ministries and more, the African American Leadership Initiative (AALI) will provide mentoring, modeling, fellowship, and scholarship for our students.

Background

For many people, given the historical issues of racial conflict, Jackson seems an unlikely place for aggressive reconciliation and healing across color lines; but that is exactly what is happening.  The Gospel is indisputably at work bringing racial reconciliation.  God is assembling a broad constellation of people, organizations, and resources in and around Jackson to do the hard and exhilarating work of laboring together for the Gospel in an urban, multi-ethnic context. 

The work of the Gospel bringing about reconciliation is evidenced through a variety of ministries in Jackson.  Nationally recognized organizations like Mission Mississippi, Voice of Calvary Ministries, and the John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation and Development, which are all headquartered in Jackson, strive to use the Gospel and true Christian fellowship to build relationships across the color divide.   Now, Redeemer Church (PCA) is doing paradigm-shifting work in forming a multi-ethnic congregation with a contextualized, theologically driven ministry in which historically separated racial traditions are melded together to create something new and unique.  Reformed University Fellowship at Jackson State University is the first RUF started at a Historically Black College or University, and it is thriving with 200+ in attendance at large group Bible Study. (To learn more about the development of RUF at JSU, see this video.)    

In light of our history and the ministries that God has raised up, Jackson provides a unique context for students to learn about multi-ethnic, urban, and African American ministry.  
 
Through conversations with seminary students, pastors, community members, and others, RTS Jackson created the African American Leadership Initiative (AALI) to capitalize on the unique ministry opportunities set before us.  The goal of AALI is to train those interested in the Reformed tradition to spread the gospel faithfully and in such a way that it continues God's work of bridging communities across racial and socio-economic lines.  We believe that RTS Jackson is positioned to help train leaders who could replicate this Gospel ministry that results in racial reconciliation throughout the country and around the world.  The Gospel is thriving in Jackson, Mississippi, and bringing racial reconciliation with it.  We believe this kind of paradigm-shifting Gospel ministry can flourish anywhere. 

The Initiative

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The African American Leadership Initiative is open to anyone, but particularly to full-time African American seminary students demonstrating leadership potential who are pursuing an MDIV or MA degree.  Through multiple platforms members of AALI will learn how to apply the Gospel to the unique challenges and circumstances of ministry in a multi-ethnic, urban setting. 

The Initiative consists of four main components:

Mentoring
One of the richest aspects of AALI comes in the form of access to accomplished professionals who are engaged in ministries in a multi-ethnic, African American, urban, or at-risk context.  Once a semester, Mike Campbell from Redeemer Church (PCA), Elbert McGowan from RUF at JSU, Mac McCarty of County Line Missionary Baptist Church, Neddie Winters of Mission Mississippi and Voice of Calvary, Ronnie Crudup of New Horizon Church, and Wy Plummer of the PCA’s African American Ministries will host on-campus lunches to discuss contextualization of your seminary education and Gospel ministry. Additionally, each semester one of our mentors will host a 3-hour seminar that will allow for a more in-depth discussion of an aspect of ministry. 

Modeling
Instead of simply hearing about all the work that could be done in multi-ethnic, urban, and African American ministry, participants in AALI will witness firsthand the work that is happening in the city.  They will gain exposure to several organizations, churches, and ministries which are faithfully preaching the Gospel and that are doing work specifically geared toward addressing issues of race and poverty in an urban context. Each semester AALI will attend one ministry event as a group hosted by one of our mentors and then meet with the mentor after the event to discuss the experience. 

Fellowship
Members of AALI will gain opportunities, both formal and informal, to meet, interact, and forge relationships with fellow Initiative members on campus, Reformed African Americans in the community, and others who are interested in ministry in urban and multi-ethnic settings.  Fellowship opportunities include lunches together on campus, attending conferences, and other activities.

Scholarship 
A scholarship equivalent to 50% of tuition will be awarded to those participating in AALI.  Normal Financial Aid Application and Policies apply.

 

Mentors

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Mike Campbell
Reverend Mike Campbell is Senior Pastor of Redeemer Church, PCA in Jackson, Mississippi.  He earned his MDIV from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri.  Prior to moving to Jackson, Rev. Campbell served as the pastor of Pinelands Presbyterian Church in Miami, Florida for seven years.
John “Mac” McCarty
Reverend John “Mac” McCarty currently serves as the Library Circulation Specialist at the RTS Jackson Library and as the pastor of County Line Missionary Baptist Church in Mississippi.  He received his MDIV (’96), MACE (’96), and Doctor of Ministry (’09) degrees from RTS Jackson. 
Elbert McGowan
Reverend Elbert McGowan, Jr. is a native of Jackson, MS.  He spent several years working as a mechanical engineer for General Electric in Cincinnati before sensing a call to ministry.  He earned his MDIV from RTS Jackson (’08) and currently serves as the minister for Reformed University Fellowship at Jackson State University, the first RUF started at a Historically Black College or University.
Neddie Winters
Neddie Winters serves as the President of Mission Mississippi and the Senior Pastor at Voice of Calvary Fellowship Church.  Mission Mississippi is a ministry committed to racial reconciliation and healing in the Gospel through personal relationships here in Mississippi and around the world.  In 1962 John Perkins founded Voice of Calvary Ministries as a non-profit Christian Community Development organization in Mendenhall, MS.  In 1975 Voice of Calvary Ministries expanded to Jackson to develop inner-city ministries in our capitol, and Voice of Calvary Fellowship Church was planted.
Ronnie Crudup
Bishop Ronnie Crudup, Sr. (RTS Jackson MDIV ’85) is the Regional Bishop for the Mid-South Diocese of the Fellowship of International Churches and Senior Pastor of New Horizon Church International, an exciting and rapidly growing church in Jackson, Mississippi, which he founded in 1987.  Bishop Crudup’s vision for ministry additionally extends into the community.  He is co-founder and CEO of the Mississippi Faith-Based Coalition for Community Renewal, and he is the founder and President of New Horizon Ministries, Inc., a non-profit organization that operates five community-based programs throughout the city of Jackson.
Wy Plummer
Reverend Wy Plummer has been a member of the PCA since 1982 is currently the African American Ministries Coordinator for the Presbyterian Church in America.  Rev. Plummer has also served as a part-time pastor at New City Fellowship in Chattanooga, Tennessee and as a member of the Advisory Board of Covenant Theological Seminary.  He completed his undergraduate at Howard University and earned graduate degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Chesapeake Reformed Theological Seminary. 
Steve Lanier
Steve Lanier serves as the Assistant to the Pastor at Redeemer Church, PCA in Jackson.  He spent more than 20 years with Youth for Christ before he joined the ministry staff of Trinity Presbyterian Church in 1997.  When Trinity planted Redeemer in 2004, Steve went with the church plant to serve Redeemer.  He earned his Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from RTS Jackson in 1988.
Jerry Young
Jerry Young has been the pastor of New Hope Baptist Church since 1980, and on September 4, 2014 was elected to a five-year term as President of the National Baptist Convention, the largest African American religious organization in the United States.  For the 12 years prior to the election, he served as the President of the General Missionary Baptist State Convention of Mississippi and the Vice President-at-large of the National Baptist Convention.  He received two degrees from RTS Jackson, the MDIV in 1981 and the DMIN in 1998.

FAQs:

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Is AALI only for African Americans?

* The African American Leadership Initiative is open to people of all races who feel called to ministry in African American, multi-ethnic, or urban contexts. 

* We use the term "African American" because we seek to address the acute under-representation of African Americans within the reformed tradition and the lack of access to formal theological education that has been the reality for many African Americans.

* We are also particularly concerned with African Americans because of our context.  The city of Jackson is 70% African American (45% in the Jackson metro area) and home to several effective ministries led by and ministering to African Americans.   In addition, the fruit of the Gospel of reconciliation has empowered organizations like Mission Mississippi, Redeemer Church, and the Perkins Foundation to actively pursue racial unity in the city.  Amidst these and other factors, RTS Jackson is uniquely positioned to address the particular contours of ministry in African American, multi-ethnic, or urban contexts.

 

How do I apply for the AALI scholarship?

* As part of the Financial Aid Application, you will need to indicate your interest in AALI and complete the additional materials required.  Normal financial aid rules apply.

* The AALI scholarship is awarded to those who demonstrate a heart for ministry in African American, multi-ethnic, or urban contexts and who participate fully in AALI events and offerings.