Will Megachurch Pastors Focus More on Social Justice After Ferguson?

(left) Dr. Jasmin Sculark and Pastor Lawrence Robinson - Senior Associate Pastor of The Potter's House
(left) Dr. Jasmin Sculark and Pastor Lawrence Robinson – Senior Associate Pastor of The Potter’s House


Dr. Jasmin Sculark takes a holistic approach to ministry, knowing that as the recently appointed senior pastor of the Jericho City of Praise in Landover, MD, her evangelism may one day require leadership in the most contentious of challenges. As she spoke to EBONY.com, thousands of mourners filed into the funeral of Michael Brown, Jr., an unarmed Black 18-year-old killed at the hands of police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo., on August 9. It was one of the hottest days of the year, and perhaps aptly so, as the community has been searing with a swell of fury and grief ever since. Brown’s killing has elicited a resumption of the anger and sadness that surfaces in Black communities all too frequently, and Sculark realizes that being a church leader has long accompanied the charge to convert rage to solutions and jeers to justice. Sculark is a leader primed for such a time as this.

“God cannot heal what we conceal, and what happened in Ferguson lets us know that we might have put a band-aid on a wound that is still there,” she says. Having spoken out from the pulpit on such topics as “The Zimmerman Syndrome” after the 2012 slaying of Trayvon Martin in Florida, she believes that churches and leaders of all stripes must drag societal ills into the light. “The [onus] has been placed on the Black Church because we’re closer to the situation, but there is a huge responsibility for the Church in general. It’s not simply a Black or White issue; we need to minister to humanity as a whole.”

As she preps for her Sept. 7 installation as the Jericho City of Praise’s senior pastor, she reflects on how her upbringing drives her mission to spread the gospel while providing a wide scope of support to those who fill the 10,000 seats of Jericho’s main sanctuary and to the residents of Prince George’s County, Md., 65 percent of whom are Black.

“Lavantille was a drug-infested area, the kind of place where the average young person would never grow up past the age of 14 or 15,” she recalls of her birthplace, a village on the island of Trinidad and Tobago. Sculark — who never knew her father and lost her mother at 14 — came of age in a makeshift treehouse of sorts, a dilapidated smattering of rotting wood with a slanted rooftop. Under the care of her older sister, Sculark sought to repel the negativity that pervaded her village. “My sister instilled in me a sense of values. I was looking for something to hold on to.”

A friend connected the young Sculark to a local church that ignited her desire to make a positive impact on those around her. Her journey, however, was not without its kinks. “I had a potty mouth in middle school. It was more of a defense mechanism considering my environment, but a teacher told me that if I could use my words for positivity, I could become an encourager and a builder,” she remembers.

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Mame M. Kwayie

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