Pastor Dr. Howard-John WesleyPastor of Alfred Street Baptist Church Alexandria, VA Award Year: 2020
Reverend Dr. Howard-John Wesley is the senior pastor of the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA. His activism includes leading community protest marches against the New York grand jury’s decision not to indict a NYPD officer whose chokehold led to the death of Eric Gardner in 2014. His sermon, “When the Verdict Hurts,” was referenced in TIME Magazine’s July 29, 2013 cover story as one of the best sermons preached in the US following the Not Guilty verdict in the State of Florida v. George Zimmerman, who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. “When the Verdict Hurts,” along with two other sermons, “A Rizpah Response” and “Tell Your Own Story,” have been archived in the faith-based collection of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, DC. Dr. Wesley was the keynote speaker at the 2019 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation 2019 Prayer Breakfast.
Dr. Wesley used his award to support Alfred Street Baptist Church’s Tithe Initiative, which provides financial support to local and national organizations that care for the underprivileged.
Dr. Wesley also used his award to create the Alvin and Helen Wesley Doctoral Scholarship at Christian Theological School in Indiana, to fully fund the PhD education of a preacher of the Gospel who will study the connection between the Baptist Church and social justice.