The Progressive Pastor

The Progressive Pastor

People 08.17.22

Jacqui Lewis

When Kerry walked into Middle Church it was a breath of fresh air. The 2,000-member congregation is multiracial, multicultural, many gendered, and all sexual orientations. Jacqui’s ability to transcend the confines of religion and weave the arts and activism into worship helped Kerry view her spirituality through a refreshing new lens.

“Middle is meant to be an artistic portal,” says Jacqui. “It is a place of worship, but you also might experience a bit of Broadway or a classical concert or maybe even some puppets and tap dance.” The first African American and first woman to serve as senior minister in the Collegiate Church, which was founded in New York City in 1628, Jacqui is unapologetic about pushing boundaries. “I transgress every day around the borders between secular and sacred,” she says. 

Raised by a family devoted to the church, but also activism, she jokes that she has a bit of ruler breaker in her DNA. A progressive Christian pastor and author of “Fierce Love”, she is a tireless advocate for racial equality, economic justice, and LGBTQ+ rights, making Middle a place of both worship and social justice. The congregation marches for pride, fights for living wages, and for body equality around pro-choice. “My idea of heaven isn’t a place you go when you die,” she says. “It’s right here, right now.”


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