Rev. Dr. George C.L. Cummings – Imani Community Church (Oakland, CA)

George C.L. Cummings, is an internationally know theologian and pastor whose ministry extends around the world. He is the founding pastor of the Imani Community Church (American Baptist); and the Pearl Rawlings Hamilton Professor of Systematic Theology, at the American Baptist Seminary of the West, (ABSW) in Berkeley, California.

He has taught at ABSW for nineteen years, and served as the Academic Dean for six of those years. Prior to pastoring the Imani Community Church, he served six years as pastor of The Church By The Side of the Road in Berkeley, California. His ministry has been characterized by his commitment to scholarly work in the area of theology and the African-American religious and cultural tradition, and a commitment to pastoral ministry as the appropriate context of theological scholarship.

Pastor Cummings, a native of Brooklyn, New York, studied at Gordon College, Wenham, Massachusetts (Bachelor of Arts, Religion, 1975), Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Hamilton, Massachusetts, (Master of Divinity, 1978) and Union
Theological Seminary in New York City (Master of Sacred Theology, 1980, Master of Philosophy, 1982, Doctor of Philosophy, Systematic Theology [Ph.D.], 1990). For Pastor Cummings, his long years of theological preparation was the foundation for his scholarly and ministerial vocation.

He has received many honors including the Young Scholar Award, 1991, 1992 (Association of Theological Schools) and the Outstanding Teacher’s Award, 1993 (Graduate Theological Union). He received tenure, at the American Baptist Seminary of the West, in 1996. He has lectured and preached across the United States, in Japan, Thailand, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Peru, Costa Rica, Brazil, Panama, Nicaragua, Guyana, Trinidad, Barbados, St. Kitts, Puerto Rico and Cuba. He holds membership in the American Academy of Religion, and the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians.

This year, our Pastor is celebrating twenty-five years of ordained ministry. He was ordained at Twelfth Baptist Church, Boston, Massachusetts, 1979, as an American Baptist Minister. He has been active in the denomination, for the last two decades. He has served on the General Board, the Executive Committee of the General Board, and the General Secretary Search Committee, and as the denominations parliamentarian. He is currently serving on the Centennial planning committee for the America Baptist Convention, which will celebrate it’s centennial in 2007.

Pastor Cummings is one of the founding pastors of the East Bay Lenten Caravan. EBLC which is an ecumenical consortium of seven churches and pastors in the East Bay, who have come together for fellowship and service. They support various Bay Area community agencies. The EBLC has been able to provide approximately $200,000.00 towards funding for these community agencies.

In addition to his work as a theologian, pastor and denominational leader, Pastor Cummings has been blessed to be the husband of Althea Grannum-Cummings,
and the father of Chantal, Charisse, and Sayron. The remainder of the
Cummings/Grannum family resides in Brooklyn and Queens, New York.

Pastor Cummings has a global vision for his vocation as a theologian and a pastor. In his work as a scholar, his primary interest is exploring African-American religious and cultural traditions. The objective of his objective is to discover how these traditions con contribute theological insights that can inform the current struggle of Africans for liberation.

Pastor Cummings has published two books: Cut Loose Your Stammering Tongue: Black Theology in the Slaves Narratives (1993, Orbis Books) and A Common Journey: Black Theology USA and Latin American Liberation Theology (1995, Orbis Books). He is currently working on a third project, which he hopes to complete in 2008.

In his work as a pastor, his primarily concern is that the Black church continues to provide a safe space where African-Americans can be friends of one another’s body’s, souls, minds and spirits and can collectively pursue the holistic liberation witnessed to in the gospel. Pastor Cummings believes from Martin Luther King Jr. has taught us that prophetic Christianity was a powerful instrument for the ongoing struggle. He further believes that Malcolm X has taught us that our history and culture should be affirmed. He challenges Christians to clarify their purpose, their vision and their mission, so that they might be a community of faith, dedicated to transforming our world.

In his involvement with scholarship, pastoring, teaching, fathering, “husbanding”, and leading, Pastor Cummings lifts up the words of the ancient African, St. Augustine, who said, “If you desire to praise Him…then live what you express…Live good lives and you yourselves will be His praise.” It is our pastor’s desire that he be a living witness to God’s grace, mercy and peace.

Since the beginning of the Imani church to the present, Pastor Cummings has empowered the church to expand it’s vision beyond the walls of the church. He is the current co-chairperson of the Board of Directors of Oakland Community Organizations (OCO), a faith-based community organization dedicated to training leaders to bring about social change. He has led Imani in establishing an Institute of Music in Limon, Costa Rica as a part of its global mission effort. In addition, he has developed a partnership in ministry with the Baptist Convention of South Africa, and the Kagiso Baptist Church in the township of Kagiso. In addition to the various ministries designed to nurture the Imani membership, Pastor Cummings is deeply committed to enabling the church to be an institution, which works to change the world around it.

Pastor Cummings believes that the community of faith must dream a grand dream, and have the discipline necessary to incarnate those dreams in community in such a way as to be the ongoing witness to God’s desire for the world. He dreams of a world in which the well being of all has been-achieved. For Pastor Cummings, this is shalom.


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