An itinerate elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. Terrance M. McKinley is a former racial justice mobilizing director at Sojourners and led our Matthew 25 work, which is dedicated to racialized policing, immigration, and religious freedom. Rev. McKinley has a demonstrated commitment to matters related to faith and justice. He currently serves on the ministerial staff at Reid Temple AME Church where he launched the Moral Agenda Summit hosted at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and he helped design and launch the congregation’s Commission on Social Action. 
Rev. McKinley served for 10 years as a member of the ministerial staff of The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York, where former congressman Rev. Dr. Floyd H. Flake serves as senior pastor and Rev. Dr. Elaine M. Flake serves as co-pastor. 
He was ordained in the A.M.E. Church at age 23. He is an alum of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where he earned his bachelor's degree and holds honors. He is also an alum of Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J., where he earned his Master of Divinity degree. 
Essence Magazine recognized Rev. McKinley as a “Do Right Man” because of his work in the community beyond the walls of the church. The African American Pulpit Journal honored him alongside professors, pastors, and preachers from across the country as one of “The 20 to Watch Leaders Under 40.”  

Posts By This Author

An Open Letter to the Governor of Oklahoma

by Terrance M. McKinley 11-11-2021

People pray during a prayer service in support of clemency for Julius Jones on Nov. 6, at the Oklahoma state capitol. Photo: USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Connect

I am troubled about Oklahoma’s recent decision to reinstate the death penalty and to resume state executions. I know you are a Christian, governor. As a Christian minister myself, I believe that capital punishment should end.

But I am not writing to you today to debate policy; the occasion for my letter is much more urgent: The decision to kill Julius Jones or to spare his life rests in your hands.

Refusing to Erase the Tragedies of U.S. History

by Terrance M. McKinley 06-03-2021

Greenwood’s Gurley Hotel after the 1921 Tulsa Massacre. Photo by Rev. Jacob H. Hooker, Public Domain

This week, we marked the 100th anniversary of one of the most horrific moments in American history: On May 31, 1921, white mobs burned to the ground the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Okla., an area commonly known as Black Wall Street. White neighbors killed Black residents in what became known as the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. That story — and many other accounts of Black success and self-determination confronted by malice, terrorism, and destruction — are hidden in the corners of history’s closet by a dominant culture that prefers silence over truth-telling.

‘Just Because Something Is Legal Doesn't Make It Right’

by Terrance M. McKinley 05-27-2021

Benjamin Crump, center, joins Gianna Floyd, daughter of George Floyd, along with other family members raise fists at the White House following their meeting with President Joe Biden on May 25, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

On the eve of the one-year anniversary of George Floyd's death, Sojourners' Terrance M. McKinley spoke with Benjamin Crump, a national civil rights leader who has served as the lead attorney for the families of Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, and other Black people wrongfully killed by police or vigilantes. They discussed the road ahead and whether proposed policy change at the federal level could lead to needed change in policing. —The editors

One Year After George Floyd's Murder, Has Anything Changed?

by Terrance M. McKinley 05-25-2021

A man places flowers at a mural of George Floyd after the verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, found guilty of the death of Floyd, in Denver, April 20, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Mohatt

Many people in this country — and many others around the world — paid attention. We could not ignore the horror of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes 29 seconds as Floyd cried, “I can’t breathe.” Some of us watched as Floyd lay dying and unresponsive. That horrific moment is forever etched in our memory — and we reached a breaking point. We decried the violence and declared, “enough is enough.”

Racism Infects Our Politics and Theology. God Calls Us To Change Them

by Terrance M. McKinley 03-18-2021

Travis Cains, who grew up in Cuney Homes with George Floyd, speaks on the phone next to a mural of Floyd in the Third Ward ahead of the trial of the former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin in Houston, March 3, 2021. REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare

Last week, jury selection began in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who was arrested for the killing of George Floyd after kneeling on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — a horrific killing that sparked a movement of racial reckoning. In part, this trial is about justice for the Floyd family, about whether a jury will find Chauvin guilty in the murder of George Floyd. However, this trial, this moment, is about far more. It is about us and the future we want to build.

Pastoring Through Many Dangers, Toils, and Snares

by Terrance M. McKinley 02-04-2021

Volunteer hands out masks for coronavirus disease survival kits as part of an outreach program to the Black community to increase vaccine trial participation in Rochester, N.Y., Oct. 17, 2020. REUTERS/Lindsay DeDario

Early in the pandemic, during one of my “church check-ins” over Zoom, I opened the floor for our members to share any challenges they might be facing as a result of the shutdown so we could be more responsive and supportive. After a few responses, the call went surprisingly silent. I prodded the group and one of our wisest, most active retirees surprised me with her contribution: “We’ve been through challenging times before. We are resilient people. We are okay.”

It’s Time to Be the Conscience of American Politics

President Joe Biden addresses the nation after his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/Pool/File Photo

I believe fervently in the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said that “the church is not called to be the master or servant of the state, but to be the conscience of the state.” In that vein, we will be neither chaplain nor sycophant to our new political leaders. Instead, we seek to be a faithful conscience, serving as a bridge-builder and offering prophetic critique (and pressure) when necessary.

Poll Chaplains Report Intimidation Attempts, Stories of Hope

Rev. Kwasi Thornell, right, offers faithful presence outside a polling site in Miami, Nov. 3, 2020. Photo: Tony Barreau / Sojourners

In Alabama, polling sites in low-income areas of Birmingham were relocated with no explanation and very little warning to residents – many of whom typically struggle to acquire a reliable means of transportation. Luckily, poll chaplain commissioner Sheila Tyson was there to galvanize the community and organize free rideshare services to get these voters safely to the polls and back home.

If Not Now, When?

by Terrance M. McKinley 08-27-2020

A sign is displayed near a bottle of alcohol and flowers left in tribute to the victims of a shooting during Tuesday night's protests, at the site of the incident in Kenosha, Wis.,  Aug. 26, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

On Sunday, Aug. 23 at Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by Kenosha, Wis., police in broad daylight in front of his three sons ages 3, 5, and 8. The bullets damaged Blake’s spinal cord and left him paralyzed. His brutal shooting has not only left his body broken but it has also affected the psyche of his young children — another generation gripped by fear of police.

Trump's Dangerous Election Rhetoric

President Donald Trump speaks to the news media at the White House, July 29, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

This morning President Trump posted the following unconscionable tweet regarding our upcoming election that dishonors Congressman Lewis’ legacy and poses a direct threat to our democracy:

With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???

The Church's Apathy to the Earth Exposes the Gap in Discipleship

by Terrance M. McKinley 09-13-2018

But during that conversation with Rev. Dr. Durley, I realized that there is one compelling reason that Christians should all care about the earth — generational legacy. We have to create a legacy of and a world that is safe for future generations to breathe in, live in, and thrive in