Florida Church That Once Refused to Welcome African-Americans Appoints First-Ever Black Pastor to Lead Congregation

The Reverend Juana Jordan, who was made pastor of First United Methodist Church of St. Augustine, Florida.
(PHOTO: COURTESY JUANA JORDAN)

A Florida congregation that once refused to allow African Americans to attend worship services recently appointed its first African-American pastor.

The Rev. Juana Jordan is now serving as pastor of First United Methodist Church of St. Augustine, a congregation with about 500 members.

Jordan officially began her appointment at the church on July 1. In an interview with The Christian Post on Monday, she explained that while she “feels good to be the pastor of any church appointment,” this particular appointment is “an awesome privilege.”

“I’m humbled by it because I’m always thinking about how God makes decisions and works within the minds and with the hands of people in order to put us exactly where we need to be,” said Jordan.

“God will orchestrate and say ‘this is where you’re supposed to be.’ You may not know exactly why you’re there and what all this entails in you being there, but there is something in that placement that is going to allow for your growth as well as going to allow for the greater glory of God to be seen.”

Jordan told CP that thus far “like any new job,” the appointment has been “beautifully chaotic” as she gets used to leading the FUMC.

“I think about this redemptive work of God … of God saying ‘I’m always in this process of showing what my redemption looks like and showing what reconciliation looks like,” she continued.

“Because that’s the work that God is doing. God is always reconciling us back to God as well as reconciling us back to each other. And so I would think that this is evident of that work, what reconciliation looks like under God’s economy.”

Jordan’s acceptance as head of the congregation is a complete change from over 50 years ago, when FUMC of St. Augustine turned away African Americans seeking to integrate the church.

The Rev. Jay Therrell, district superintendent of the Florida Conference’s North East District, told CP that in a specific incident 54 years ago, two African-American women were denied entry into the church.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski