Has Ferguson Changed the Hearts of Megachurch Pastors? | New Maryland pastor, Dr. Jasmin Sculark
to focus on social justice at Jericho City of Praise
| Read More
New Maryland pastor, Dr. Jasmin Sculark to focus on social justice at Jericho City of Praise
Dr. Jasmin Sculark and Pastor Lawrence Robinson - Sr. 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.
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.
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
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.
- 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
In 1989, with $30 and one suitcase, Sculark
boarded a flight for New York.
The high school graduate had been accepted to Practical Bible College in Binghamton, NY, where she was the first African-Caribbean woman admitted to the institution.
"It was such a culture shock, but I learned to do cross-cultural ministry," she
Sculark received a Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary in 2007, later serving as pastor at churches in Columbus, Ohio, and York, Pa. In addition to hosting duties on The Word Network's "This is Your Best Day Yet," she's spoken at the Potter's House Church in Dallas and at the popular MegaFest festival in 2013.
Sculark joined the Jericho City of Praise in April 2014 as a woman who had gone from living in a treehouse to leading one of the nation's largest houses of worship.
"I was definitely designed to be dropped down in the middle of the earth to make a sound for God," she
readies a keynote sermon for the Woman Thou Art Loosed conference in Atlanta this October, Sculark
(affectionately known as "Dr.
Jazz" to friends and congregants) concentrates on using her
work to empower women in all arenas.
"I want to equip women to change the game in politics, business, and even in the Church," she
says of Jericho's Game Changers conference for women, coming in March.
In continuing the vision of Jericho's late founder, Apostle Dr. Betty Peebles
also plans to develop of a shelter for victims of domestic violence, which has seen a tremendous increase among Prince George's County residents in recent months.
"I grew up in a domestically violent home.
There was rage; there was constant fighting throughout my village; and there was always physical, mental, and emotional abuse toward women," she
In light of recent incidences of violence among and against people of color, Sculark
recognizes that her
mission requires her
to have hard conversations.
"We moved on so fast after Trayvon Martin, and we didn't go through the full healing," she
says of preemptive initiatives to keep stories like Martin's and Michael Brown's from fading out of the public consciousness after the mainstream media moves on.
"I've spoken to some pastors in the DC-Maryland-Virginia area, and we're collectively seeing how we can have some reconciliation with what's happening in the community with our young people.
Until we have some serious dialogue, there cannot be true healing.
Tackling the hard stuff, Sculark
believes, is necessary for meaningful reconciliation and is a key focus of her
new position, one for which her
upbringing may have rendered her
unlikely but for which she
appears to have been divine prepared.