Meet Our Senior Pastor
Reverend Courtney Clayton Jenkins
Senior Pastor and Teacher
A visionary pastor and teacher representing a new generation of leaders, Rev. Courtney Clayton Jenkins serves as the Senior Pastor and Teacher of South Euclid United Church of Christ (formerly Euclid Avenue Congregational Church). At the age of 27, Rev. Jenkins made history when she became the first woman, first African American and the youngest pastor called to lead this special congregation. Since that day in 2010, Rev. Jenkins has led the multi-cultural, multi-generational, inner-city congregation to become the vibrant church that it is today, but first she had to lead it out of the ashes.
Just six months before Rev. Jenkins was asked to serve, the historic church was struck by lightning and the architectural gem was completely destroyed by fire. With courage, the congregation called the young and dynamic “hip-hop” preacher to become their pastor to allow God to do “a new thing.”
That “new thing” happened to be nothing short of a transformation. Under Rev. Jenkins’ leadership, the congregation adopted a new strategic plan for revitalization and a clarified mission for outreach, which includes innovative ways to use technology to do God’s work. Now in a new building and with a new name, the church is experiencing exponential growth and a revived passion for serving humanity through ministry and mission. In the midst of a growing congregation, Rev. Jenkins oversaw an $8.15 million construction project for the campus of South Euclid.
The church is an open and affirming congregation that draws members and visitors from the entire metropolitan area. When Rev. Jenkins says that “all” are welcome, she means it. Her goal is for everyone to feel like they have “come home” when they come through the doors of South Euclid United Church of Christ.
Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Rev. Jenkins holds a Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary with a concentration in Preaching and Congregational Ministry. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Spelman College.
In the United Church of Christ denomination, Rev. Jenkins is an ordained minister and serves in several capacities. Previously, she served as the Designated Pastor of Shaker Heights Community Church, United Church of Christ. She is the first woman to be ordained at the historic Mt. Zion Congregational Church in Cleveland.
Rev. Jenkins is Co-Founder of the Without Walls Ministry, a retreat designed to glorify God and edify women in ministry. She has served on numerous boards and committees of local and national ecumenical organizations. She has also worked intentionally on teaching and training for anti-racism and youth ministry programs, life-skills for low-income and incarcerated persons, dating anti-violence programs for young adults and African American history as a form of empowering and building community.
Rev. Jenkins was the recipient of the 2012 Star Award presented by the Women of Color Foundation to a young professional woman who is making a difference in Northeastern Ohio. She was selected as the 2014 Alumnae Convocation Speaker at Spelman College.
Rev. Jenkins is married to her seminary sweetheart, Rev. Cory C. Jenkins, Minister of Worship at South Euclid United Church of Christ. They travel the country as a team facilitating workshops and seminars on family stabilization. On March 18, 2014, they rejoiced in the arrival of their son, Caleb, who is their “gift from God!” They are excited about this new chapter in their lives as they continue on the path of love and ministry together.
In January 2012, Cleveland Magazine selected Rev. Cory and Rev. Courtney as one of the “Most Interesting Couples.” In July of the same year, they were featured by Black Enterprise Magazine as a new paradigm for careers in faith.
Rev. Jenkins is committed to and humbled by God’s calling and purpose upon her life. As she joyfully leads her congregation in serving God, she continues to pursue discipleship well beyond its walls to find new ways for the next generation to impact this nation with His unconditional love and almighty power.