Pastor Turner

A pastor, prolific preacher, teacher, social justice advocate and author, Dr. J. Lawrence Turner has devoted his life to meaningful ministry which has made immeasurable impacts across the nation for 25 years.  For the past 10 years, he has faithfully served as the Senior Pastor of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Memphis, TN, the largest congregation in the Disciples of Christ denomination.

For seven years prior to coming to Mississippi Boulevard, he served as the Senior Pastor of the Community Baptist Church in New Haven, Connecticut where he tripled the membership and liquated the debt.  Similarly, during his first 8 years at Mississippi Boulevard, he liquidated the debt on the Midtown campus renovations.  In addition, following the move of God, Dr. Turner relocated the former East campus to southeast Memphis, later purchasing its permanent location, a beautiful 7- acre campus that has proven to be a beacon of hope as it thrives in that community.  Under Dr. Turner’s leadership, the mortgage on that new campus was retired within the first eight years.

Dr. Turner is a native of Nashville, Tennessee, and 2003 magna cum laude graduate of Fisk University, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion and Philosophy. He was a 2001 United Negro College Fund/Andrew Mellon Undergraduate Fellow and a 2002 Fellow of the Fund for Theological Education. Dr. Turner received his Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School and was awarded the prestigious H.H. Tweedy Prize for exceptional promise for pastoral leadership. Dr. Turner earned the Doctor of Ministry degree in Transformative Leadership at the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York.

Understanding the need for excellence in leadership, Dr. Turner’s vision and leadership extends beyond the pulpit and pew. He served as President of the Yale Divinity School Student Council, Vice President of the Connecticut State Missionary Baptist Convention, Chaplain of the New Haven Fire Department, and Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Housing Authority for New Haven, Connecticut.  He currently serves as Secretary/Treasurer for the Board of Directors of the National Action Network, Board Member of Church Health, President of the Yale Divinity School Alumni Board, member of the Yale Divinity School Dean’s Advisory Counsel, and member of the Mission Integration Committee of Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare.  Dr. Turner also serves as the bibliographer for the Conference of National Black Churches Annual National Consultation and is a member of the Advisory Team of the Issachar Church Growth and Development Conference. He is a 2021 inductee in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers at Morehouse College.

Bridging his passion for faith and social justice, Dr. Turner founded and serves as President of The Black Clergy Collaborative of Memphis, whose mission is to express the voice of the Black Church on issues of economic empowerment, civic engagement, and criminal justice reform. This organization played a vital role in the Reimagining Policing in Memphis Initiative and endeavors to live out its mission through the establishment of the following programs: D-Free Initiative, BCCM-Hope Credit Union Small Loan Fund, Journey to Food Justice, and created the African American Clergy Collective of Tennessee that seeks to engage clergy organizations and state legislators across the state.

Dr.  Turner has presented to audiences at Fisk University, Yale University, LeMoyne-Owen College, Tougaloo College, National Action Network; appeared on CNN, PBS, BBC, MSNBC, Jack & Jill of America, Inc.; interviewed with The New York Times, The Tennessean, The Tri-State Defender, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, and Yale Divinity School Reflections.  The Memphis Business Journal selected him as a 40 UNDER 40 honoree, and Power 100 honoree.

He is the author/facilitator of a bible study on the book of Colossians entitled, Above All Circumstances. His published work can also be found in the African American Pulpit Journal.

Dr. Turner’s greatest joy, pride, and peace is that of his family.  He is married to his best friend, Bridgett N. Turner, Esq. Together they are the parents of two bright, beautiful children, Josiah Lawrence and Savannah Grace.

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