The Board of Directors of Back Bay Mission are pleased to announce that in February 2021, Rev. James Pennington will be the new Executive Director of Back Bay Mission. With the retirement of Rev. Alice Graham, the Board of Directors began a nationwide search for her replacement. Rev. Pennington, a Mississippian, has most recently served as Senior Pastor at UCC churches in Phoenix, Arizona, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. His accomplishments in these two ministries included providing extensive services for feeding people experiencing homelessness; being an advocate for migrants at the border; and conducting recovery groups, transgender support groups, and racial reconciliation groups. He was recognized by the Minnesota Conference Office for exemplary leadership. Particularly notable in his body of work is merging Spirit of the Lakes, a predominantly LGBT congregation with a historic church of mostly older members, and Minnehaha UCC to create a new church, Living Table, which became wildly successful and provided ministry to a diverse congregation.
His years of ministry reflects a commitment to serving vulnerable communities in ways that support inclusivity and diversity. In Milwaukee, as Executive Director of the LBGT Community Center, he served over 750 youth of color providing HIV education and advocacy. While there, he launched a charter high school focused on LGBTQIA and at-risk youth.
Rev. Pennington brings a wealth of experience in building strong community partnerships between minority communities and public service agencies. For example, he provided sensitivity training for the Milwaukee Police Department and other city agencies.
He earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Chicago/Concordia University and a Master of Arts in Divinity from Concordia Seminary and Washington University.
Born and raised until 11 years old in Booneville, MS, Rev. Pennington’s roots are in Mississippi soil and he continues to have family in Mississippi.
The Back Bay Mission Board of Directors welcomes him home.