Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley was installed as the 8th pastor of Alfred Street Baptist Church on September 28, 2008. A native of the south side of Chicago, he is only the 8th pastor in the 209 year history of this church. He is a beloved and courageous pastor, servant-leader, distinguished visionary, faithful friend and a highly sought after lecturer and preacher.
Since taking the pulpit in April 2008, nearly 3,000 have joined in fellowship with the Alfred Street Baptist Church family, bringing its membership to over 5,000. A new worship service was initiated for the young adults age 20 – 30 something entitled “Come As You Are” (CAYA). This worship service is held on the first Wednesday of every month with an average attendance of 300-500. In addition, a program that helps raise children and youth to know, love and serve Christ – the AWANA program – begun in September 2009. Also, in September 2009, a Saturday worship service was added, increasing the number of worship services to three; a Senior’s Bible study, Men’s Bible study, Praying with the Pastor and Chat with the Pastor have also been added to the spiritual programs of the church. He has begun the Christian Life Institute, offering courses throughout the year to help members address relevant life issues and to help with growth in spiritual development as disciples.
Ministries also birthed under Pastor Wesley’s leadership were AGAPE Counseling, Cub and Boy Scouts, Career Change, Cancer Awareness, Divorce Care, Gideon’s Crew, Grief Share, Intercessory Prayer, Married Couples, Men’s Liturgical Dance, Recovery, Ministers In Training, Entrepreneurship, Greeters, Military, Social Media, Single Parent, Singles (revived) and Culinary ministries.
An activist for social justice, Pastor Wesley led the church to purchase property adjacent to the church that kept affordable housing in historical Olde Town Alexandria. In addition, the Mission Ministry has placed more emphasis on domestic violence awareness, community awareness, mentoring programs and after incarceration assistance. The Mission’s outreach program consists of trips to New Orleans to assist in post-Katrina recovery; New Jersey to assist with post-Sandy recovery; to Haiti to participate in the rebuilding of homes after the January earthquake; and mission trips to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Philadelphia. Also, through partnership with Chosen 300 Ministries, Alfred Street participates in the distribution of food to the hungry in Nigeria.
Dr. Wesley recently traveled to the Middle East along with top leading Baptist denominational leaders on an educational Baptist leadership mission trip to Israel. The purpose of the trip was to learn the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship through firsthand experiences in Israel, briefings by experts on Middle East affairs and meetings with Israeli political elite.
Dr. Wesley has preached in Johannesburg, South Africa for the Progressive National Baptist Convention, was a member of the Pastoral Excellence Program with the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Convention, serves as Co-Chairman of the Young Pastors Committee of the National Baptist Convention, Inc. USA and just recently formed a partnership with the historic Regent Road Baptist Church, Sierra Leone, West Africa.
Reverend Dr. Howard-John Wesley represents the fourth generation of Baptist preachers in his family. The son of the late Rev. Dr. Alvin J. Wesley and Dr. Helene J. Wesley, he acknowledged and accepted his calling into the Gospel ministry at the age of sixteen and was licensed to preach in 1989. He was ordained in 1997 at his father’s church, the Hermon Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois by the Greater New Era Baptist District Association of the Baptist General State Convention of Illinois. He has also served on the staff of the Orange Grove Baptist Church of Durham, NC and the Concord Baptist Church of Boston, MA.
Dr. Wesley is a 1994 summa cum laude graduate of Duke University where he doubled majored in Biomedical and Electrical Engineering. After his first year in medical school, he yielded to God’s call once again and walked away from a medical career to attend seminary in preparation for serving God’s people. He attended the Boston University School of Theology where he was a Martin L. King, Jr. Scholar and a 1997 summa cum laude graduate concentrating on Biblical Studies and African-American religious history. His passion for preaching and learning led him to the Associated Chicago Theological School’s Doctor of Ministry in Preaching Program where he graduated from the Northern Baptist Theological Seminary with his Doctor of Ministry degree in 2003. His thesis, “Prescriptive Preaching: Effective Homiletical Methodology for the Next Generation of Black Churchgoers” is now being prepared for publication. Rev. Wesley has also completed post-doctoral studies at Oxford University in Oxford, England and has served as an adjunct professor of homiletics at Boston University and an adjunct professor of church administration at Hartford Seminary.
In 1997, God called Rev. Wesley to the historic St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield, Massachusetts. By the grace of God, under Rev. Wesley’s faithful and committed leadership and through his passionate and loving spirit, he led St. John’s into a period of unprecedented growth.
For his labor, Rev. Wesley has received numerous awards and accolades. He is associated with the Alexandria NAACP, the Northern Virginia Urban League, the Community Coalition for Haiti, a member of the Board of Directors for the Hopkins House, the Board of the John Leland Center for Theological Studies and the Institute for Responsible Citizenship; and a member of the board of Exceptional Gifts, an organization to advance the lives of underprivileged, special needs children and youth adults through educational and cultural experiences. He has also served as honorary chairperson for the African American Adoptions, Inc.
He is passionate about proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, making the Word of God relevant in the lives of believers, and building the Kingdom of God in the congregation and community. He was a keynote speaker for the People’s Inaugural Project Prayer Breakfast for President Barack Obama, and is a sought after speaker for events honoring Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr. Wesley is currently leading Alfred Street Baptist Church in participation with the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., National Baptist Congress of Christian Education, Progressive National Baptist Convention, Baptist World Alliance, the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Convention, the Baptist General Convention of Virginia, and serves on the Executive Board of the Northern Virginia Baptist Association.
He is an avid golfer who also enjoys movies, reading, and working out. He celebrated his 20th year in the ministry on November 29, 2009. He is married to Debbie McCain Wesley, and they are the proud parents of two sons, Howard-John, II and Cooper Reece.