Reverend Dr. Jesse T. Williams, Jr. is the fourth, distinguished Senior Pastor of the prominent Convent Avenue Baptist Church of Harlem in New York City, N.Y. Dr. Williams was licensed to preach the Gospel in June 1983 at the Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church, Topeka, Kansas and was ordained to the Gospel Ministry in December 1990 at the West Side Baptist Church, St. Louis, Missouri. Prior to accepting the call from Convent Avenue, Dr. Williams served sixteen years as Pastor of the historic Washington Tabernacle Baptist Church of St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Williams has adopted the words of Paul in II Corinthians 5:18 as his philosophy of ministry which states, “And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” Dr. Williams’ ministry is guided by this spiritual principle of reconciliation and is evidenced by the fruits of his labor in preparation and service.
It is therefore not surprising and quite exciting to acknowledge and highlight that under Dr. Williams’ pastoral leadership the Convent Avenue Church Family has significantly increased in membership, worship attendance, and stewardship commitments. Pastor Williams has instituted the partaking of Communion during the First Sunday 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. worship services as an addition to the usual 5:00p.m. Communion Celebration Service. He has ordained a minister, licensed three ministers and ordained six deacons. He initiated the hiring of an Executive Minister and an Executive Assistant to the Senior Pastor, and facilitated the first leadership retreat with the Deacon and Trustee Ministries and coordinated the first Seminar for Females in Ministry. Pastor Williams has developed a new church motto and initiated the development of the church logo that is part of the revitalized Convent church website. Rev. Dr. Williams has also initiated the restructuring of the New Members Training Classes and Curriculum. Currently, Pastor Williams is leading the church in a million dollar Capital Campaign and Elevator Project. In December 2011, Dr. Williams published his first book entitled “A Remedy for Itching Ears: Christian Doctrine Remixed for a new Generation of Believers” which was birthed out of a yearlong Mid-Week Bible Study on Doctrine. As a visionary, who understands the plethora of societal needs, Rev. Dr. Williams is constantly seeking the face of God for wisdom, guidance, direction and discernment in spiritually leading and effecting holistic change not only for the Convent Avenue Church family but the Harlem Community at large.
Dr. Williams’ academic credentials include a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Eden Theological Seminary in Webster Groves, Missouri (May, 1999); a Master of Divinity degree from Eden Seminary (May, 1991); a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kansas (May, 1986); and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Kansas (May, 1986). In June of 2005 Dr. Williams received a Certificate of Participation and gained special training at Harvard University’s Divinity School Summer Leadership Institute in Cambridge, MA.
Dr. Williams’ ministerial and community highlights include serving as a Clergy Leader in the NYC Living Wage Movement and hosting the Living wage rally in solidarity with community faith leaders and organizers. As a result of his effort in the NYC Living Wage Movement, Dr. Williams was a 2012 recipient of the Micah Justice Award given by the Micah Institute of New York Theological Seminary. In 2010 Dr. Williams was the host pastor and panelist participant for a discussion around Soledad O’Brien’s CNN documentary Almighty Debt: A Black in America Special. Dr. Williams is a Member of the Board of Directors for the M.L. Wilson Boys and Girls Club of Harlem, the Harlem Congregations for community Improvement (HHCI) and the National Action Network. He is a member of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and a life time member of the NAACP. Dr. Williams additionally serves as Assistant Financial Secretary for the United Missionary Baptist District Association of NY and is a member of the Labor relations Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. In 2008 he was the speaker for the New York Minister’s Union King Day Celebration and host pastor for the Third (2008) Realizing the Dream King Holiday Commemoration. He was the keynote speaker for the 2008 National Baptist Convention Ushers Banquet in Cincinnati, Ohio and served as a Workshop Panelist at the NAACP Leadership 500 Conference in Arizona (2008). He has served as a delegate to the World Baptist Congress held in Melbourne, Australia with a stop in Hong Kong (2000), preaching at the Fort Buchanan Army Base in Puerto Rico for the Martin Luther King Celebrations (1996 and 1997), and being a member of the 12th Preaching Team to Africa under the Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.; where he ministered throughout South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Malawi (1993). For ten years, Dr. Williams, was a member of the Eden Theological Seminary Faculty in St. Louis, Missouri and currently serves on their Board of Directors. He was a Faculty Mentor for the Doctoral Studies Program at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio and serves as a Field Education Supervisor at Union Theological Seminary in New York, New York. One of his dynamic sermons entitled, “How To Use The Silence,” was published in the Winter 2002-2003 Edition of The African American Pulpit. In 2005 Dr. Williams completed a five year term as president of the Missionary Baptist Minister’s Union of St. Louis and Vicinity.
Prior to leaving St. Louis, Dr. Williams received a Proclamation and a Community Service Award from the City of St. Louis in recognition of his community efforts. He was also honored in the third edition (2006-2007) of Who’s Who in Black St. Louis.
Reverend Dr. Williams was born in Akron, Ohio and is married to the lovely Gelaine R. Williams. They are the proud parents of one son, Jesse T. Williams, III.