Courtney Clayton Jenkins
Senior Pastor and Teacher at South Euclid UCC
A visionary pastor and teacher representing a new generation of leaders, Rev. Courtney Clayton Jenkins serves as the Senior Pastor and Teacher of South Euclid United Church of Christ (formerly Euclid Avenue Congregational Church). At the age of 27, Rev. Jenkins made history when she became the first woman, first African American and the youngest pastor called to lead this special congregation. Since that day in 2010, Rev. Jenkins has led the multi-cultural, and multi-generational congregation to become the vibrant church that it is today, but first she had to lead it out of the ashes.
Just six months before Rev. Jenkins was asked to serve, the historic church was struck by lightning and the architectural gem was completely destroyed by fire. With courage, the congregation called the young and dynamic preacher to become their pastor to allow God to do “a new thing.”
That “new thing” happened to be nothing short of a transformation. Under Rev. Jenkins’ leadership, the congregation adopted a new strategic plan for revitalization and a clarified mission for outreach, which includes innovative ways to use technology to do God’s work. Now in a new building and with a new name, the church is experiencing exponential growth and a revived passion for serving humanity through ministry and mission. In the midst of a growing congregation, Rev. Jenkins oversaw an $8.15 million construction project for the campus in South Euclid.
Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Rev. Jenkins holds a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary with a concentration in Preaching and Congregational Ministry. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Spelman College.
In the United Church of Christ denomination, Rev. Jenkins is an ordained minister and serves in several capacities. Previously, she served as the Designated Pastor of Shaker Heights Community Church, United Church of Christ. She is the first woman to be ordained at the historic Mt. Zion Congregational Church in Cleveland Ohio.
Rev. Jenkins is Co-Founder of the Without Walls Ministry, a retreat designed to glorify God and edify women in ministry. She has served on numerous boards and committees of local and national ecumenical organizations. She has also worked intentionally on teaching and training for anti-racism and youth ministry programs, life-skills for low-income and incarcerated persons, and anti-violence programs for young adults as a form of empowering and building community.
On April 5, 2018, Rev. Jenkins was inducted into the College of Pastoral Leadership at Morehouse College. The induction was held in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In June 2018, Rev. Courtney realized a dream of hers when she first assumed the pastorate at Euclid Avenue Congregational Church in 2010 (now known as SEUCC). She announced the opening of a Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School on the campus of South Euclid United Church of Christ in the summer of 2018. The six-week summer school program is designed to boost student motivation to read, generate positive attitudes toward learning as well as link children and families to the resources in their communities. Rev. Courtney spear-headed the church effort to raise in excess of $85K to fund the school through member donations, church events and community sponsorships! In 2019, Rev. Jenkins completed the Convocation of Christian Leaders at Duke University which is a program designed for emerging Christian leaders and their churches. In Spring 2021 she completed the Louisville Institute Program Pastors Working Together. Louisville Institute convenes a cohort of wise and exceptional pastoral leaders from across the United States for a season of sustained, in-depth conversation about their ministries and the future of the church
Some of her other awards and honors include:
The Grio Black Women preachers who changed and are changing history
YWCA Woman of Achievement 2022
Selected as one of Crain’s Cleveland Business “Forty under 40” for 2020
Star Award presented by the Women of Color Foundation to a young professional woman who is making a difference in Northeastern Ohio.
Alumnae Convocation Speaker at Spelman College.
Recipient of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s “Making a Difference Award” given to young professionals making a difference in and around greater Cleveland.
In March 2014, she was blessed with an amazing son, Caleb who is the love of her life!
In the midst of ministry and motherhood, Rev. Jenkins managed to add writer and Certified Leadership Coach to her growing list of accomplishments. “Stepping Back to Step Up” a Six – Week Devotional to Recharge, Refresh and Refuel women in ministry was launched and is on the fast track to success. Rev. Jenkins worked with The John Maxwell Company and is now one of their Certified Leadership Coaches. Consulting with many different historical congregations on vision casting, strategic implementation and leadership development has caused many to seek her counsel in revitalization.
Rev. Jenkins is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and Jack and Jill of America, Inc.
Rev. Jenkins is committed to and humbled by God’s calling and purpose upon her life. As she joyfully leads her congregation in serving God, she continues to pursue discipleship well beyond its walls to find new ways for the next generation to impact this nation with His unconditional love and almighty power.