In honor of African-American History Month, Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries is collaborating with the Rev. Tawnya Denise Anderson, pastor at Unity Presbyterian Church in Temple Hills, Md., to lift up stories of young African-American leaders from across the PC(USA). Over the coming weeks, Anderson’s blog, “SOULa Scriptura,” will run a special series titled “Our New Day Begun” to highlight the stories of African-Americans who are leading the charge in shaping the church’s future.

This post features Reverend Whitney Fauntleroy, teaching elder in the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina and calls Raleigh, NC her hometown. She’s the pastor of Chestnut Street Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, NC and a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary where she received a Master of Divinity and a Master of Art in Youth and Young Adult Ministry. 

You’ve recently stepped into a new call. Congratulations! Tell us about what you’re doing and how it’s going so far.
I just began my first call in October of 2014. I spend most of my time trying to listen and observe the congregation, the community, and how we might minister to the neighborhood. I’ve tried a few new ministries and programs and tried to get to know the flock I’ve been called to lead. My initial thoughts is how ill-prepared I feel for the magnitude of the call to pastor and yet the blessing in that confusion and authority.

You’ve spent most of your life in the PC(USA). What about this denomination do you most value? What do you think needs to change?
I value the connectionalism of the denomination. I have made friends from people outside of my local church since I was in middle school and still because of the PCUSA’s emphasis on the connected church have had the opportunity to see Presbyterians from different chapters in my life all over the country. In terms of possibilities for growth and change, I think we a need a larger prophetic voice in our communities against inequality and injustices. I know that individual pastors and churches speak up against corporate greed or corrupt legislation but as a denomination we often stride the fence. It is beautiful to witness multiple churches and communities gather to speak truth to power. I always am in awe of the Episcopalians whenever I go to protest or assemblies, they seem like a unified body.

You’ve said you started discerning a call to ministry while attending Montreat Youth Conferences. What was it about those conferences that sparked the fire for you?
The leadership at the Montreat Youth Conferences seemed to speak to the reality of teenagers in a way that made me want to discover more about my faith, and to translate Jesus and the love of God to others. I think the youth conference served as a portal for me to take the faith of my family and claim it as my own and see it as something worth sharing.

Click here to read the rest of this feature on the SOULa Scriptura blog and watch for more in this series during African-American History Month.