By Tracie Isaac
On Sunday morning, June 26, Rev. Dr. Jonathan Jamel H. McReynolds preached his farewell sermon at Aenon Missionary Baptist Church to a full house of well-wishers including former Mayors, elected officials, Public Safety officers and various organizations for which he provided leadership and support.
Starting a new journey is in store for McReynolds who’s been Senior Pastor of Aenon Missionary Baptist Church since December 2016. He is headed to Seattle to lead another congregation there.
Aenon Missionary Baptist Church is one of the largest and most influential Black churches in Rochester with a legacy of pastoral leaders whose community engagement has added valuable resources, programs and advocacy to address issues that affect the quality of life for city residents.
“It has been an honor and joy to lead the Aenon Church for the last six years,” McRenolds said.
In a brief but impactful presentation, Mayor Malik Evans presented Dr. McReynolds with a Certificate of Special Mayor Recognition to “commemorate his prophetic leadership and contributions to various social justice issues and service to the city.”
In 2021, McReynolds was listed in the Rochester Business Journal as one of the 100 Power Players in the city of Rochester.
During a local news interview Dr. McReynolds stated that one of his greatest memories is engaging the community during challenging times of social justice and community crisis and felt that he was divinely appointed to be in Rochester during those tough times.
Additionally, in a statement reflecting on his tenure, McReynolds said “the church has experienced renewal, growth and has engaged in many community and social justice endeavors.”
He cited what he considered his greatest accomplishments as, “the growth of the youth ministries, community outreach, the training and development of new leaders and breaking the glass ceiling for women to serve in expanded roles of leadership.”
As part of acknowledging and elevating new leadership within Aenon, McReynolds appointed ten new deacons, nine of which were women who earned Doctorate Degrees.
To build bridges within the community and infuse change, McReynolds served as a Community Recruiter for the Rochester Police Department and was acknowledged by Officer Justin Collins for assisting in the recruitment of new recruits from the community.
Some of the new recruits were present for the farewell celebration and were requested to stand by Dr. McReynolds. Two pews of young adult men and women represented the diversity and leadership potential that the RPD is seeking to build
During the final sermon celebration, Senator Jeremy Cooney highlighted the spiritual leadership and guidance of McReynolds. Cooney commended him for the ongoing recognition of Single Mother’s Sunday at Aenon and acknowledging this segment of the community by providing initiatives to support single mother families, along with other community initiatives.
Cooney who shared that he is a child of a single mother and closed his statement by presenting Dr. McReynolds with an award of accommodation on behalf of the New York State Senate.
It seems that McReynolds left a valuable imprint on other officials such as Sabrina Lamar, President of the Monroe County Legislature. She shared reflections of meeting Dr. McReynolds and the words of wisdom he provided to her in support of her journey to the Legislature. Lamar presented a Proclamation to Dr. McReynolds in recognition of his work from the Monroe County Legislature.
Leaders of Aenon shared their sentiments of working with McReynolds:
Leslie Harvey, chairman of Aenon’s Board of Trustees, said he is ‘saddened by Pastor McReynolds’ decision to take on a new call of ministry outside of Aenon. However, I understand his desire to do what he feels God wants him to do.
“Not only am I losing a pastor but a dear friend whom I have grown to love and respect. Pastor McReynolds has done wonderful work at Aenon and the Rochester community in a short period of time.”
Lawrence Floyd, chairman of Aenon’s Deacon Board, also commented on McReynolds’ impact saying, “He brought a new level of ecclesiastical training and preparation to the Aenon clergy and diaconate. He also championed new and improved use of Aenon’s audio/visual and virtual ministry as a means of extending our ability to reach our parishioners and the world, especially during the pandemic season we are in.”
The vacancy of the Senior Pastor position will be promptly filled by the Aenon Deacon Board appointing an Interim Pastor by August 1st.
Church congregation members are invited to participate in a search committee which will soon begin the process of selecting a replacement Senior Pastor.
McReynolds shared that he looks forward to “continuing ministry initiatives in Western New York through virtual and in-person ministry opportunities in the future.”
The final sermon delivered by McReynolds was titled “Keep Your Dreams Alive” which was based on the book of Genesis chapter 37, the story of Joseph “the dreamer” who rose to become a prophetic advisor to the king.
Presenting the message about dreams was possibly a prophecy on Rev. Dr. McReynolds new journey. In words of wisdom from another pastor, McReynolds was reminded that he belongs to God and there are great things in store for his journey.
McReynolds is married to his soul mate, Princess McReynolds and they have four children, three boys and a daughter. Former First Lady McReynolds shared a tearful message of her journey and introduced their sons to the audience.