The Rev. Dr. Renee F. Washington Gardner, Senior Pastor of Harlem’s Memorial Baptist Church, is a woman of several firsts. She was the first woman to succeed her husband as Pastor of an established Baptist Church in Harlem. She is the first woman to serve as Pastor of Memorial. Upon marrying Rev. Dr. Sean P. Gardner, Senior Pastor of East Ward Missionary Baptist Church, she became the first woman to serve simultaneously as Pastor of one church and Leading Lady of another. In 2013, she was the first woman to be named a Moderator of the United Missionary Baptist Association in that body’s 60 year history.

 Affectionately known as Pastor Renee, she is an anointed woman of God.  Empowered by the Holy Spirit, she is called to preach, teach, counsel and utilize the gift of administration. She is a most sought-after speaker in Harlem and across the country. 

 A Brooklyn native, Pastor Renee was raised in the Holiness Church.  Committed women of God -- Evangelists, Pastors and Congregational Leaders -- nurtured her in the faith and facilitated much of her spiritual growth.  In later years, Pastor Renee joined the First Baptist Church of Deer Park, NY.  There she accepted her call to the ministry and was licensed to preach the Gospel by the Rev. John Mapleton and the church on August 31, 1986. Upon Rev. Mapleton’s demise, Rev. Winfred Pippin appointed her Church Administrator.   In 1995 Pastor Renee was ordained by the Rev. Dr. Preston R. Washington, Sr., Senior Pastor of Memorial Baptist Church.

 For nearly a decade, Pastor Renee served Memorial as Executive Pastor. The late Bishop Preston R. Washington Sr. and Pastor Renee, together in ministry worked diligently to increase and maintain the church membership, organized three weekly worship services, and developed a community revitalization project for homeless single parents and their children, known as The House of Hope. Pastor Renee she served as Moderator of the church’s Ministry Council; coordinated more than 25 church wide ministry programs, with special emphasis on Women’s Ministry. She also served as Project Director of the church’s “Welfare to Work” program and seminary interns. An astute teacher and counselor, Pastor Renee specializes in catechismal preparation for those seeking diaconal and ministerial ordination, and facilitates marriage and bereavement counseling. She is a member of the Ordination Council of the United Missionary Baptist Association.

 During her tenure as Senior Pastor, she reorganized all the ministries, instituted a finance committee, developed the MBC website, upgraded the church’s sound system and renovated several areas of the church edifice including the sanctuary, fellowship hall, kitchen and restrooms. In August 2008, the ribbon was cut for the Rev. Dr. Preston Robert Washington Sr. Educational Wing, which consists of an executive conference room and will soon feature a computer lab and educational resource center.  In 2011, Pastor Renee developed Beyond Vision 2000 Ministries and instituted new ministries such as the marriage, singles and seniors ministries, outreach ministry and missionary ministry.

 Pastor Renee’s commitment to ministry and leadership extends into the community via a diverse group of non-profit organizations.  Her previous positions include; Second Vice President, Council of Churches of Manhattan, board member, Harlem Interfaith Counseling Service, Inc. (HICS), member of the Black Leadership Commission on AIDS Women’s Group, board member of the Boy’s Choir of Harlem, Chairman of the Board and Spiritual Leader of the Harlem Gospel Choir, board member at Pleasant Avenue Day Care Center.

 Currently, she is the spiritual advisor for the Master Mime Ministry and member of the New York Coalition of 100 Black Women. In 2011, she was appointed to serve as Chaplain for the New York City Transit Authority.

 Among her distinguished honors are acknowledgement of distinguished service in ministry by the New Life Covenant Fellowship Conference; the NAACP’s Women's History Month Award for Outstanding Community Service through Ministry and Positive Promotion of Christian Ethics; The National Action Network’s Women's Auxiliary’s Women of Excellence Award for being an outstanding example of Womanhood and for the tireless efforts for peace and justice in the community; The Spirit of Hope Award, representative of her support for a cancer awareness and survivor organization; The Balm & Gilead Award for her leadership and contributions in addressing HIV/AIDS within the African American community, and the Ringling Bros./Barnum & Bailey Circus Community and Business Leaders Appreciation Award

 As a preeminent ministry leader, Pastor Renee has been recognized by local and national politicians, receiving citations and proclamations from Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Congressman Charles Rangel, C. Virginia Fields, former Borough President of Manhattan, and New York State Senator Bill Perkins. 

 Pastor Renee is a graduate of the New York Theological Seminary/Eastern Baptist Extension Program in Urban Ministry. She is a respected cosmetologist and has extensive training and experience in mortuary science, in addition to her ability to skillfully officiate at funerals. In May 2007, the St. Thomas Christian College awarded her an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. Pastor Renee is currently enrolled in the Veterans Administration CPE Chaplaincy Program, which follows her passion to provide support for members of the armed forces formerly and currently in service to their country.

 Pastor Renee is the proud mother of five sons and grandmother of 10.   

This year, Pastor Renee celebrates 30 years in the Gospel Ministry, seeking to do the will of Jesus the Christ. Rev. Dr. Renee F. Washington Gardner’s blessed assurance is heard frequently in her testimony and preaching, “When I think of the goodness of Jesus and all He has done for me, my soul cries out Hallelujah - I thank God for saving me”!                                            

 



 
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