By Rev. Delesslyn A. Kennebrew
My name is Delesslyn A. Kennebrew and I am glad to be here! In August 2012, I began my journey on staff at the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, TN. Our church is one church in two locations and I was hired as the Director of our East Campus. I will be very honest with you. I had no intentions of joining “The BLVD” or any other Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregation. I cannot recall any friends or former classmates who served in this denomination but I was at a place on my journey where I was just open. I had resigned from a church just shy of one year before I transitioned onto the staff at The BLVD, which was going through a major transition itself. Dr. Frank A. Thomas, was heading for retirement in the first six months of my tenure. Now, he did meet with me to tell me that he would be retiring and left it up to me as to whether I wanted to follow through with their employment offer. I told him that I do respect his decision to be up front with me and I appreciate it, but I was not coming to this church to just work under his leadership. I was coming because I really did believe that God sent me to this place and this was my next divine assignment. And on August 13, 2014, I walked through the doors at 70 N. Bellevue Ave. as a full-time employee at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church.
As I said, I had no intentions of joining “The BLVD.” I was primarily interested in doing an excellent job in fulfilling every aspect of my job description. This was a kingdom assignment and church membership was not required. Actually, most people probably did not know or even care if I was a member or not. There were a few who asked but since it was not a condition of my employment, my membership was not raised as a point of concern. After about one year on staff, I was promoted to Associate Pastor of the East Campus and pastoral care and other pastor-like responsibilities were expected. This meant hospital visits, and counseling, and wearing a robe, which I am still not fond of, and other things as requested. For the first time in my life, I was called Pastor Delesslyn.
This was such a significant “title” for me because I was raised in a denomination that does not allow women to preach or enter the pulpit to speak, much less acknowledge or assign or call them (to) “Pastor.” I was deeply honored and I knew that this was God’s way of continuing to open my eyes to serve in the Kingdom in this way. I was not convinced that I needed to “join” the church. I was just serving and loving the Lord with all my heart in this place until my next shift.
But then, a shift happened.
On the last weekend of June 2014, I attended the Quadrennial Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I was invited to facilitate a workshop there and I was very prepared to lead it but I was NOT expecting what happened for me as I participated in this gathering. I had been on a 21 day fast leading up to the Quadrennial, fasting and praying that the Lord would prepare me as I led this workshop and to keep me focused and grounded as I walked through the various changes I was witnessing at home in Memphis. So, when I arrived in Atlanta, GA, my Spirit was just OPEN to hearing and seeing something I had never heard or seen before but would bless me without a doubt.
On the first night of Worship at Quadrennial, I was in a room full of women from all over the world who gather every 4 years for a "revival" of righteousness and justice and service. I saw the intentionality of the worship to include many different faces and voices. I heard an inspiring word from the General Minister and President of the denomination, Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins. And I felt at home in this space, amongst these women. I was so excited to be there and I was ready to learn and to grow and to get connected. I returned to Memphis, TN with a new sense of commitment and personal conviction to the larger ideals of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I felt like I was one of “them.”
I felt such a sense of revival for this new home in the larger denomination and on my birthday, August 10, I joined Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I joined because I wanted to be connected to this larger movement for wholeness in a fragmented world. I wanted to be a part of a denomination that takes seriously the open table where all can find love and grace. I wanted to be a part of a “family” that loves and accepts me just as I am - a thirty-something full figured African American woman, with sister-locked hair, a personality that is bold and energetic, clothes that are colorful and heels that are high, confidence that is undeniable and grounded in Christ. I believe that I am welcome and I will remain open to the myriad of ways I can work to make this the best Church that she can be.
My name is Delesslyn A. Kennebrew. I am a disciple. And I am glad to be here!
Delesslyn A. Kennebrew, J.D, M.Div. has nearly 10 years of pastoral leadership experience. She currently serves as an Associate Pastor at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, TN where she leads the multi-site ministry, young adults, and welcoming system. Delesslyn loves to write, travel, sing, teach, preach, and pray. Check out her blog, Salvation and Stilettos at www.spiritedconcepts.net and her weekly radio spot "Kids Korner" every Sunday at 4:15pm/5:15pm online on AM 1570 WIGO. (Twitter @AudraSunshine)