Pennington Named New Executive Director of Back Bay Mission

the Rev. James Pennington joins Back Bay Mission in February 2021.

The Board of Directors of Back Bay Mission are pleased to announce that the Rev. James Pennington is the new executive director of Back Bay Mission. He begins his new duties in February 2021.

With the retirement of the Rev. Alice Graham,  the Board of Directors began a nationwide search for her replacement.  Pennington, a Mississippian, has most recently served as senior pastor of UCC churches in Phoenix and Minneapolis. During those calls, he provided extensive services for feeding people experiencing homelessness; was an advocate for migrants at the border; and conducted recovery groups, transgender support groups, and racial reconciliation groups.

Pennington has been recognized by the UCC’s Minnesota Conference for exemplary leadership. Particularly notable in his body of work is merging Spirit of the Lakes and Minnehaha UCC — a predominantly LGBT congregation with an historic church — to create a new church, the wildly successful Living Table UCC in Minneapolis, and providing ministry to its diverse congregation.

His years of ministry reflects a commitment to serving vulnerable communities in ways that support inclusivity and diversity.  In Milwaukee, as Executive Director of the LBGT Community Center, he served over 750 youth of color providing HIV education and advocacy. While there, he launched a charter high school focused on LGBTQIA and at-risk youth.

Pennington brings a wealth of experience in building strong community partnerships between minority communities and public service agencies.  For example, he has provided sensitivity training for the Milwaukee Police Department and other city agencies.

He earned a B.A. degree from the University of Chicago/Concordia University and an M.Div. degree from Concordia Seminary and Washington University.

Born and raised until 11 years old in Booneville, Miss., Pennington’s roots are in Mississippi soil and he continues to have family in Mississippi.

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CHHSM Board and Staff are grieved to learn of the death of our friend and colleague, Greg Watson, who died in October 2022. Greg was vice president of operations for Embrace Living Communities, based in Oak Brook, Ill.Greg was a graduate of CHHSM’s Nollau Leadership Institute, class of 2018-2019, and was consecrated as a Diakonal Minister during our 2019 Annual Gathering in Chicago. In an article about his class in June 2018 — not long after the group’s first retreat — Greg said, “The best part is not only beginning the process of clarifying your calling; but also, understanding and accepting one’s personal strength. Recognition of one’s ‘true' self enables us to serve from a place of wholeness.”Greg also served on the CHHSM Board of Directors, and was a beloved friend and colleague to many in the CHHSM family. Embrace Living stated on its website, “Greg was an outstanding servant leader for 17 years at Embrace Living Communities. He will be greatly missed.”CHHSM sends its prayers and love to Greg’s friends, family, and Embrace Living colleagues. ... See MoreSee Less
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