On June 2, 2016, New York City (NYC) Mayor Bill de Blasio hosted the city’s first ever Emerging Leaders Evening in partnership with his Clergy Advisory Council, The New York City Leadership Center, Thrive Collective, NY CityServe, Mattera Management, Young Life NYC, and God Belongs In My City. Hosted at the Mayor’s personal residence, Gracie Mansion, a diverse group of interfaith and intergenerational leaders gathered to celebrate the raising up of a new era of strong, community-focused, emerging leaders. Guest speakers included Rev. Michael Walrond, Rev. Adam Durso, Dr. A.R. Bernard, Rabbi Potasnik, and Imam Talib.

Mayor de Blasio delivered a meaningful address reflecting on some of the valuable community initiatives and partnerships, which he and his administration have spearheaded. His focus on collaboration and the “irreplaceable role of community of faith leaders” was an invaluable contribution to an evening of connection and conversation.

Dialogue centered around the importance of collaboration in city leadership, various approaches to running vibrant houses of worship within the city, and the role of the millennial generation in challenging institutional approaches to leadership. Dr. A.R. Bernard, senior pastor of Christian Cultural Center, celebrated the emergence of more female leaders in leadership roles than ever before. So too was an emphasis placed upon the importance of undertaking a people-focused approach to leadership. Said Rev. Michael A. Walrond Jr., senior pastor of First Corinthian Baptist Church, “Building legacy is more than just building your name, but investing in people.” There was a call to remain engaged in urban and social justice issues facing communities across the city.

A portion of the evening was devoted to an interfaith panel which explored various approaches being utilized to engage younger leaders in houses of worship across N.Y.C. Panelists shared their experiences of being invited to serve on their house of worship’s board of trustees, building coalitions, participating in leadership training, and receiving mentorship as they seek to become more involved in the development and growth of their house of worship.

Millennial leader and evening attendee Alana Barrett-Adkins noted, “There is an African proverb which says, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ This evening I was reminded of this timeless truth which emphasizes the impact of collective agreement. Despite our differences in spiritual tenets, understandings, and observances, we can unite around common causes for the benefit of our community.”

Reflected Rev. Adam Durso, who spearheaded the vision of the evening, “Tonight, is the beginning of a conversation not the end of an event…We are going to continue this conversation around what does it look like when the most missionally-conscious generation steps up, outside of the four walls of our church buildings, outside of our own practices of faith, and does something that engages the community?”

We are extremely thankful to have had the opportunity to be part of an evening of such valuable dialogue and connection. Would you continue to partner with us in prayer as we uphold the leaders within our community?