The New Jersey State NAACP will recognize a married couple – partners in life and the pulpit – for their years of dedicated service and proactive involvement in the social, economic, educational and political life of their communities at the organization’s Annual Conference on Friday, October 11, 2013, starting at 7 p.m., at Bally’s Hotel and Casino, in Atlantic City. The four-day conference is from October 10-13.

Reverend John Clinton Reynolds, Jr., a retired and decorated paramedic and frontline firefighter for 26 years in the City of Newark Fire Department, has served with distinction in the ministry for 25 years. He is currently the pastor of Grant African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, in Chesilhurst, in Camden County, NJ. With his wife, Rev. Darlene J. Reynolds, who serves as the Executive Minister at Grant, the couple has devoted their lives to strengthening families and encouraging stronger communities.

“Darlene and I are truly blessed, humbled and pleased to be recognized by the New Jersey State NAACP for our work in our communities and churches,” Pastor John C. Reynolds, Jr. says. “With the help of Almighty God, we help people and families to begin their journey of recovery and a life of faith. Through Christ, we help strengthen the social, economic, educational and political fabric of our communities.”

His wife, whose motto is “It takes a whole village (community) to raise one child”, agrees.

“I spend my time making sure the village is informed and equipped to handle the day-to-day experiences of family and community life through the power and wisdom of God,” Rev. Darlene Reynolds says.

Calling himself an instrument to be used by God, Rev. John Reynolds Jr. devotes his time to working with those who are disenfranchised. He counsels, refers and provides transportation for those who need to get to drug detoxification or rehabilitation. While in the City of Paterson, he and the congregation engaged in ministries that supported families. Community outreach programs included a day care center, the Abbott Preschool Program, Saturday Church School for Youth, HIV/AIDS Ministry that included community education, Family-To-Family Program, and a drop-in center for adults, in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services and the City of Paterson. He said these critical outreach ministries are reflective of ministry that the community of faith must have to survive spiritually, physically, socially, economically, and educationally.

Rev. John Reynolds’ memberships include the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey, Board of Trustees for Integrity House Drug Rehabilitation Center, the NAACP, and the Vulcan Pioneers International Professional Black Firefighters Association. For his work as paramedic and frontline firefighter for 26 years, he was decorated and commended for bravery above and beyond the call of duty by the City Council of Newark, the Newark Fire Department, the Police and Fireman’s Pension System, and the St. Barnabas Hospital Burn Foundation.

For more than thirty years, Rev. Darlene J. Reynolds has continued to educate herself and communities about drug and alcohol addiction, child abuse, family and community violence, HIV/AIDS, conflict resolution, poverty, community development, and ways to strengthen the family. She is a member of the NAACP, the Bridge to Recovery Network for Social Service Providers, serves as a chaplain for the Eastern State Prison, and Vice-President of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary Student Service Inquiry Organization.

In addition to her work in ministry, she has developed and led numerous initiatives at New Jersey AME churches. She works with community stakeholders to strengthen educational outcomes, increase recreational opportunities, and to create sustainable independence for youth and their families.

She is currently a recruiter and trainer for foster and adoptive families through the Harvest of Hope Family Services. Her most recent work experience includes the development of family-centered initiatives in the West Ward of Newark and for the City of East Orange, NJ. She says the West Ward Collective, Greater Essex Council of Child Welfare Collaboratives, the East Orange Family Success Center, and the Freedom School at Macedonia AME Church in Camden, NJ are initiatives that work to support community residents in their effort to share leadership, resources from government, and community/faith-based agencies for the specific task of strengthening families, and to encourage effective community partnerships.

John and Darlene Reynolds are both Newark natives that graduated from their local high schools: he from Weequahic and she from Westside. Both attended Essex County Community College. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from the College of New Rochelle, and received a Master of Divinity degree with a concentration on Urban and Crisis Ministry from the New York Theological Seminary.

She attended Upsala College to study Business Administration. While working as a Missionary and an Evangelist of the AME Church, she received her call to the ordained ministry and is currently in her last year of study at the New Brunswick Theological Seminary. In addition, she has also received training and certifications in child assault prevention and intervention, parenting skills, life skills development, case management, conflict resolution, HIV/AIDS prevention/treatment, HIV counseling and testing, and community economic development.

Together they nurture a family of eight children, ten grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and a host of “spiritual” children.

For additional information, contact Revs. John C. Reynolds and Rev. Darlene J. Reynolds at Grant AME Church at (856) 767-4959, or Sam W. Pressley, the church’s communications coordinator, at (856) 582-3836, or by e-mail: sampress@sampress.com. # # # #

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